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London Business School

A general listening list of classic recordings in unusual categories.

LIVE RECORDINGS

Ellington's version of 'Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue' with Paul Gonzalves breathtaking tenor sax solo will always be remembered as one of the greatest moments in Jazz, as will Benny Goodman's appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1938 - especially the version of 'Sing Sing Sing' at the end of the show.
Phil Minton's extraordinary contemporary vocal techniques never fail to send shivers down the spine - as in his track 'Noon', and Maria Callas's voice was one of the manifestations of heaven on earth.

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EPIC

Music can depict the monumental - ideas, events and emotions. Harrison Birtwistle's uncompromising 'Earth Dances' represents the movement of the tectonic plates of the earth, and Britten's War Requiem is a passionate anti-war cry. Philip Glass's 'Where have you been, asked the doctor' from 1000 Airplanes on the roof is a sci-fi surrealist nightmare, and the Dies Irae from Verdi's Requiem remains a cataclysmic musical depiction of the day of judgement, 140 years after it's composition.

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COLOUR

John Zorn is an American Jazz saxophonist with a music that defies categorisation and is as colourful as New York itself. Debussy's La Mer is a spectral tone picture of the sea, and Pat Metheney's “Secret Story' is a jazz album with beautiful, subtle orchestral colour added by English composer Jeremy Lubbock. Pierre Boulez, grand master of Modernism, shocked the musical world with his 'Rituel' where colour is derived from the orchestra being split into several groups, each progressing at at different tempo. The result is beautiful, disturbing and surprising.

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STRUCTURE

Daniel Barenboim's performance of Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' Sonata is a marvel of how to capture an audience. His obsession with correct  tempo being organic with the harmonic structure of music, and his awareness of how this affects the audiences perception of 'progress' through and abstract 'story' makes this truly different to any other performance. 'If I could' from Pat Metheney's 'First Circle' is a perfect example of the 'Golden Section' being used within 'time'. Harrison Birtwisle's 'Panic', which caused such a furore at the Last Night of the Proms, is based on the Greek epic poem structure the 'dithyramb''. The first movement of Bach's 1st Violin Sonata is a marvel of structure - pure music, mathematics, emotion and science connecting.

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EXCITEMENT

The opening bars of Gil Evan's arrangement of 'Porgy and Bess' for Miles Davis is one of the most exciting moments in Jazz, and 'Faces' by Earth Wind and Fire is the excitement of truly human rhythm - always moving, fallible and engaging. 'Prashanti' from 'Passages' by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar is the meeting of two energised virtuosi, and the last movement of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony takes one's breath away with it's torrent of notes and heroic defiance of fate.

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MELODY

'Yesterday' from 'Help', is an indestructible musical and melodic evergreen, whilst the Adagio from Rachmanninoff's Second Symphony expresses the beauty of pattern and emotion combined into a tearful wail. The counter-tenor soloist in Bernstein's 'Chichester Psalms' plays with major and minor keys in contrast, to create a music that is melodically neither sad or happy - just beautiful and androgynous, whilst 'My Friends' and 'Pretty Women' from Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd' display all that is best about music theatre - robust melody and plot development hand-in-hand.

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RHYTHM

Steve Reich, master American minimalist, builds a rhythmic intensity through 'Drumming' that is hypnotic, so that in Part 4 the groove takes on a life of it's own, and harmony seems unnecessary.  Thelonius Monk's Evidence is sparse and jagged, but compulsive, whilst 'The Black Page' by Frank Zappa is rhythmic complication in the extreme - surprising, virtuosic and shocking. The Rite of Spring ballet music by Stravinsky was originally thought to be undanceable, but it's primitive propulsions soon became part of the vocabulary of musicians and ballet companies everywhere.

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HARMONY

Antonio Lotti's 'Crucifixus' is a never-ending series of harmonic suspensions. Always moving forward, the harmony pleads for a final resolution. Jazz pianist Keith Jarret's recording of Bach's 'Well-Tempered Klavier' adds new insight to Bach's epic keyboard journey in the use of the sustaining pedal and unusual choice of accents in the middle harmonic developments.
'Music For Biscuits' is simply nostalgic fun. From a time (the 60's) when advertising music was always 'bespoke' to product, this famous 'close harmony' group are a delight. This is a rare and unusual CD - get it whilst you can!  Stravinsky's 'Gloria' from his Mass is an unnerving vision of contemporary harmony. It seems to be modern, yet simultaneously sounds like medievalism. Other-worldly.

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