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What are you listening to?

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby movieman1957 » September 12th, 2009, 12:36 pm

Rubber Soul. I haven't listened to it yet. They figure to have different albums soon and my gifts will continue.
Chris

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby charliechaplinfan » September 12th, 2009, 3:21 pm

I've been listening to my Beatles albums in order this week. I think my favorite is still Abbey Rd but it's a touch contest, The White Album and Sergeant Pepper coming a close second.

I've been looking at these new remixes, I'm tempted, I'm hoping hubby will want them for Christmas because he never knows what to have.

Heck, my daughter is a fan and she's 6. So many of their songs speak to children because the lyrics are so rich.
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby MichiganJ » December 9th, 2009, 4:14 pm

For the Beatles fans on the forum (hi Chris), I thought I'd give my two-cents on the merits of the new remastered Beatles stereo vs. mono CD collections. They both are terrific, and I am quite impressed with how much Paul's bass and Ringo's drums are brought out in both the stereo and mono mixes. If you already have some/all of the 80's CDs, the new stereo remasters are substantially better and worth an upgrade (remember, the CD's came out 20-years after the albums, so 20-years later doing another replace isn't so bad). Most of the mono mixes I've had on LP but they are a revelation on these new CDs and I heartily recommend the box set (pricy though it is, but the holidays are coming!)

(I'll break this in two because of the length)

Please Please Me--no contest, the mono version is the way to go. Although understandable at the time, because of only having two-tracks, George Martin mixed the stereo version with the vocals in one channel and the instruments in the other, but in the mono version vocals and instruments are together, as they were meant to be. Ringo's little "fills" are quite prominent and impressive, and just wait 'til you hear Lennon's vocal chords rip as he sings Twist and Shout. Brutally great.

With the Beatles--a favorite of mine, and again, mono rules the day for the same reasons as above. The attack on It Wont Be Long is worth it alone, but there's the vocal separation on Devil in Her Heart, too. (I love "call and response" type songs)

A Hard Day's Night--With four tracks, Martin and the boys didn't have to worry about bouncing too many tracks and here, the stereo album is superior. The vocals are centered with Paul's bass and Ringo's drums in one channel and the guitars and rhythm in the other. The acoustic guitar in I Should Have Known Better shines, and you can hear Lennon's smile as he sings (although I may just be remembering the film.)

Beatles For Sale--like A Hard Day's Night, the stereo mix centers the boys' voices and separates the rhythm from the other instruments. Even Mr. Moonlight, the Beatles "worst" song, sounds pretty good. The fade in on Eight Days a Week is chill inducing.

Help! --Help indeed. Okay, the mono mix is the best. But for the completists out there (or just me), the original 1965 stereo mix is brighter than the "new" stereo mix Martin did in 1987 (Martin didn't do the original '65 stereo mix for Help! or Rubber Soul). Fortunately, the 1965 stereo mix IS included on the mono disc, so with all three to choose from, how can you loose? (On the mono version you can hear Lennon's pick hit the strings of his acoustic guitar on You've Got to Hide Your Love Away. Why you'd want to--well, I'm just saying you can.)

Rubber Soul--Martin returns to the vocals right and instruments left in the stereo mix (and whoever did the 1965 stereo mix, does it too, which again, is also included on the mono disc) so the mono mix is far superior. That sitar on Norwegian Wood is amazing (and you can hear George striking the strings, too. Again, just saying'….)

Revolver--Back to the left/right again (Martin did this because the lads were using so many tracks for added instruments and it was easier to mix the vocals and bounce them to a single track). I'd thought Tomorrow Never Knows would have to be better in stereo, but nope. Mono it is! The mix is entirely different, with loops coming and going in different (and unexpected) places and the guitar solo is slightly different, too. Yellow Submarine is awesome, allowing one to differentiate all of the effects as well as the voices. More guitar on I'm Only Sleeping and just wait 'til you hear Got to Get You Into My Life. The horns are amazing, but when the guitars finally crash in, watch out!

Sgt. Pepper--okay, the stereo mix is ingrained in all of our heads (or should be), but the mono mix is so much better. So much better! It's like an entirely new album, it's that good. Seriously. Lucy in the Sky has so much more ambience it truly is "psychedelic", and you'd best be ready when the clanging guitars start Getting Better. She's Leaving Home is actually the right speed (the stereo mix has always been slow); whatever the Indian bass instrument is in Within You Without You, you'll feel every glorious note; Good Morning, Good Morning has more barn animals, etc; Sgt. Pepper Reprise has more vocals!, and the links/fades between the songs are faster and work much better. The greatest song ever, A Day in the Life, might make you tear up. The acoustic guitar is so crisp and Paul's bass so melodic…but listen to Ringo's drums, too. Phew. (One caveat--I wish they'd made the "inner groove" a separate track. It's fun and all, but... Oh, the mono mix does include the dog whistle in the final chord. My cat Nick went crazy!)

Magical Mystery Tour--As different as the stereo and mono mixes were in Pepper, both the mono and stereo mix of MMT are very similar. With the exception of Blue Jay Way, which pushes George's "floating" vocal slightly higher in the mono mix (which I really liked), I think I prefer the stereo mix. Strawberry Fields really takes advantage of the stereo dimension, which is odd since it was recorded and mixed before Pepper. (In the mono mix, however, there's a slight section where Lennon's dual vocal actually breaks into a slight harmony, which I'd never recognized in the stereo mix.) I also really like the stereo version of Walrus, especially when Ringo's drums kick in (the Shakespeare at the end sounds a bit louder in the mono).
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby MichiganJ » December 9th, 2009, 4:25 pm

(Beatles Part 2)

The Beatles (White Album)--phew! Okay, the White Album was never released in mono in the States and even the British and German LP pressings I have are in stereo, so I've never heard the mono before. Right off the bat things are different. The jet effects in Back in the USSR come and go in different places and Paul has a bit more vocal ad libs in the fade. Dear Prudence sounds awesome with that beautiful (but relentless) guitar picking the D & F# notes (I think). Paul's melodic bass is even more in front, and wait 'til you hear Ringo's drums near the end; he goes crazy! The mono Ob-La-Di lacks the carnival feel of the stereo, and the barroom piano is way too low in the mix. Not much can save Wild Honey Pie (but it's a fun song to play), but the stereo mix is considerably better, as is the opening Spanish guitar bit in Bungalow Bill (but the mono does have Yoko's background vocals buried deep). The mono While My Guitar Gently Weeps has George's double-tracked voice somewhat down in the mix (near Jagger's level on the Exile album) and Clapton's guitar just soars (there's a lot more guitar, too, in the fade out.) And then there's Happiness is a Warm Gun. The mono mix is amazing. ("Mother Superior Jump the Gun, Bang, bang, shoot, shoot" indeed!). Martha is better in stereo but I'm So Tired has such a different mix in the mono it's hard to say. Paul's bass thuds so deep that you'll feel it, and John's voice is not double-tracked, making him actually sound tired. The mono Blackbird allows you to hear Paul's fingers strike the strings and the sfx of the birds are different (and louder). The sfx in Piggies is also very different, but the acoustic guitar sounds so brilliant, and George's vocal seems to have a bit more snarky humor on display (it's also louder in the mix). Rocky Raccoon also has a brilliant acoustic guitar sound, and there's a lot more "fiddle" (too much) in Don't Pass Me By (and Ringo's voice sounds sped up even more than in the stereo mix). The vocal bass in I Will is way up in the mix (almost comically so), but Julia in mono will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Gorgeous.

Disc 2--The opening salvo of Ringo's drums in the mono Birthday is more subdued, but Paul's bass is more prominent; Yer Blues is agonizingly brilliant in mono. John sounds utterly defeated, and Ringo's drums and Paul's bass overwhelm any guitar…until the solo! Again the acoustic guitar Mother Nature's Son is so crystal clear in mono, one wishes the other instruments would go away, and the segue into Everyone's Got Something to Hide is loud and as in your face as you'd want it (and can Ringo ride that cymbal or what?) It's the background vocals you'll really notice in Sexy Sadie (lotta "wa-wa-wa's"), but the hypnotic fade out in the stereo mix is missing. And then there's Helter Skelter. Yikes is Paul's vocal LOUD! All of the vocals are loud, as are the guitar solos. The drums kick in nice and loud at the first fade-out, and then…. But That's it! Helter Skelter ENDS! No fade back in. No "I've got blisters on my FINGERS!" It's a full minute shorter! Like I said, Yikes! Long, Long, Long brings George's voice up in the mix so you can actually hear him, and there's a piano and an acoustic guitar I didn't realize were ever there! Once again it's the acoustic guitar in Revolution I that one (I) immediately hear, but when the electrics kick in and the "shoo-be-do-wa" backing vocals arrive, what a great song. The fade-out is longer and there's a lot more guitar, too. More of that funky jazzy guitar in Honey Pie, and there's far better separation in the instruments in the mono mix and again George's vocal is higher in the mono mix of Savoy Truffle. The opening chorus in Cry Baby Cry sounds as if John is sitting in the room with you singing. It's almost eerie, but in a good way. There's lots more to hear in Revolution 9 (at one point John says "Onion Soup", which I never heard before), but I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the better mix. The strings and operatic vocal in Good Night are better in stereo. Ringo's voice is better in mono. Go figure. The chorus singing with Ringo is much more prominent in the mono mix, and adds an additional element lacking in the stereo. It's more schmaltzy, but again, in a good way.

Yellow Submarine--The official album was only ever released in stereo and, of course, only contains four "new " songs. The stereo CD represents the 1969 album well (I actually like Martin's orchestral stuff on "side 2"). Fortunately, they included the four "new" songs in mono as part of the "Mono Masters" disc. Only a Northern Song has a substantially better mix. George's vocals are a bit higher in the mix, Paul's bass, again, is everywhere, and all of the effects simply engulf you.The acoustic on All Together Now is terrific, but wait 'til the bass kicks in. The chorus features all four lads, and you can distinctly hear each voice. The sped up ending will certainly bring a smile to your face. And then comes Hey Bulldog. You know, the great thing about the Beatles is that silly songs like Hey Bulldog are among their best. More bass in mono and there's little question that John cracks up in the ending ad-lib bit. While It's All too Much is also better in mono, it is very disappointing that the complete 8-minute version isn't here. Still, the mix is gorgeous.

Abbey Road--of course only released in stereo. Worth the reissue for I Want You (She's So Heavy) alone. Each note, especially in the building climax, is clean and precise, and you can hear Lennon's final "yeah" without distortion. The CD allows that amazing abrupt ending (how great is it to simply "cut the tape"?) to then seamless segue to George's beautiful acoustic guitar opening Here Comes the Sun much better than having to flip the LP. Come Together, You Never Give Me your Money, heck, the whole album sounds new.

Let it Be--Okay, not a fan of the Spector mixes, but they do sound much better in the new mix; somehow more like his "Wall of Sound" although they are clearly not in mono. (Still, the songs are better in Let It Be, Naked, although that album sounds a bit sterile because all of the banter is removed. ) Hate the strings and female vocals in Long and Winding Road (not a particularly favorite song anyway), but Across the Universe sounds great, and Get Back has a great deal more punch.

Past Masters--While the stereo set does include those songs that were only ever mixed in mono (Love Me Do [single version], She Loves You, I'l Get You, You Know My Name), the mono set does not include those songs only ever mixed in stereo (The Ballad of John and Yoko, Old Brown Show, Let It Be), which is too bad because, again, the mono set is better than the stereo. The harmonica is more pronounced in Thank You Girl; the piano pounds in Long Tall Sally, and the second guitar solo really rips, with "more" notes heard than in the stereo version; cow-bells-a-go-go in I Call Your Name; a slightly different guitar solo in Matchbox (and more piano); the bass becomes integral in She's a Woman (there's more piano, too, helping to mitigate the pulsing guitar beat); you can easily distinguish the three-point harmony in Yes It Is (with George being the most prominent voice, until John's solo of course); you have to check out Paul's bass in Paperback Writer (one of the truly great 2-chord songs); Rain is gorgeous in mono, with John's vocal a bit louder in the "Rain/Shine" part you can hear him struggle just a tad to hold the final note long enough. There's a better all around balance in The Inner Light, and the flute (or whatever) is a bit more prominent. Hold your breath, for the very beginning of Hey Jude will likely take it away. The bass notes in Paul's piano actually help drive the song (until the actual bass kicks in), Ringo's drums and the collective "na-na-na's" are beautiful. And John's counter harmony on the final verse is much higher in the mix. Talk about "make it better", wow. Do not, I repeat, do NOT have any beverage near you when Revolution starts. Phew. (Wish someone warned me….) Get Back sounds a bit hollow in mono, although John's backing vocal is a little higher. Don't Let Me Down really highlights Paul's counter-point singing, making the song nearly a duet. I'm not a huge fan of the "alternate" Across the Universe, it's too fast for such a tender song and I hate the female chorus. It does sound "better" in mono and you can hear Paul's "ah-ah'" more. (But you can also hear more of the women, too.) Paul's harmony on the fade out is nice, though. You Know My Name, same on both versions. Great.

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby movieman1957 » December 9th, 2009, 4:46 pm

Hi!

Good heavens. You mean I am going to have to get both sets. I have a couple of the new stereo CDs* but with the monos all coming in the boxset (or most of them) that is going on the back burner. I still have me old LPs though they are the US versions save for "Please Please Me" which is a British import.

I find all the discussion over the two types very interesting and would love to listen to them to compare.

I am astounded at the detail you go into on your reviews. I wonder if I would be so conscience of it all. You go to great depths in this and I marvel at the detail. I'm glad you mentioned "Let It Be - Naked." Different enough that I am glad they released these recordings just as an alternate to what Spector did.

BTW, I always liked the Bond-esque edit on the beginning of the US "Help" soundtrack LP.

(Help, Rubber Soul, Pepper and Abbey Road.)
Chris

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby feaito » December 9th, 2009, 8:54 pm

I'm listening frequently to Eliane Elias' awesome Bossa-Nova renditions. What a voice!

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby MichiganJ » January 2nd, 2010, 9:38 am

Some of my favorite CDs from the last year. (From my overly lengthy notes posted earlier, the Beatles' mono and stereo sets are a given.)

Neko Case--Middle Cyclone--gets better and better with each spin. Even if you don't believe in climate change and think polluting the environment is A-Okay, you can tune out of Case's lyrics and simply glide on the beautiful melodies.

Bob Dylan--Tell Tale Signs--some think ol' Bob is putting out the same album time and again. So what? So did the Ramones. Seriously, this decade Dylan has put out one stellar album after another (his Christmas album not withstanding). The bonus disc of his radio show has me really considering signing up for satellite radio.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs--It's Blitz--Took me aback how little guitar there is, but the Yeahs took a terrific chance on this third album and hit a home run. They are in for the long haul. (I hope.)

Sonic Youth--The Eternal--More Kim Gordon! 'Nuf said.

Nellie McKay--Normal as Blueberry Pie (A Tribute to Doris Day)--Certainly one of the most inspired performers from the last decade, there's no predicting what McKay will do next. This album is fabulous and has been in constant rotation for when my wife and I prepare dinner (much dancing in the kitchen!)

PJ Harvey & John Parish--A Man A Woman Walked By--I know, PJ again (or still). What can I say? (Harvey's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea is one of the best albums of the decade.)

Lily Allen-It's Not Me, It's You--funny, thoughtful and pure pop with attitude, (and a fair share of naughty words.) Have you noticed, cursing with a British accent makes the words considerably less offensive?

Lucinda Williams--Little Honey--not getting much love from the general public, but this album rocks (maybe that's why). Best since Car Wheels.

R.E.M.--Live at the Olympia in Dublin--a terrific live album where R.E.M. "practices" before an appreciative audience. There's plenty of false starts, wrong notes and oh so much fun. Stipe is in great voice and the entire band seems to be having the time of their lives dancing on this razor's edge. Plenty of nuggets in the play list, too.

Paul McCartney--Good Evening New York City--this two CD, 1-DVD set features McCartney's return to Shea Stadium (okay, Citi Field. While the stage isn't exactly where second base should be, he still gets further than the Mets last season--but this year is the year). This is McCartney's millionth live album and like all the others, holds some great gems but repeats an awful lot. The band is in great shape, and McCartney does perform A Day in the Life leading into the Give Peace a Chance chorus. One wishes that Sir Paul would dive further into his Wings past, but who can blame him for wanting to continue to play Hey Jude? The in-between tunes banter is missing, which is too bad.

Buddy Holly--Memorial Collection--3-disc collection containing 60 of Holly's best. Each disc clocks in at about 40-minutes, so it could have been put on 2-discs, but three is the perfect way to hear Holly's development as a songwriter. It's interesting to think where Holly was heading, as his last released recordings seemed to be heading in the direction of the schmaltzy Pat Boone productions (or, maybe, more Perry Como), yet one of Holly's greatest songs (of many) is True Love Ways. Amazing to think of the quantity and more importantly, the quality of songs Holly produced in such a woefully short time.

Buddy Holly--Down the Line Rarities--As great as the Memorial collection is, this is superior on so many levels. Yes, you need to hear and love the original recordings, but here many of the great songs are striped down to their barest, and the power they have is enormous. Oh Boy, without the background vocals, is raw, exciting and quite modern (The background vocals, while terrific, surely date these songs, and besides, they are there in your mind's ear, anyway.) Not Fade Away, while still essentially the same, now rivals the Stones energetic take. There are so many jewels in this collection; and then there's the apartment banter between Holly and his wife, Maria Elena. Just try and not get a bit teary. (And Holly's Texas drawl, especially as he makes fun of himself not being able to sing Take Your Time is worth the price of the collection.)

Tom Petty--Live Anthology--Talk about nuggets! This album proves that The Heartbreakers are the tightest band in the business. You know how Henry McCullough's guitar solo lifts McCartney's My Love to classic status? Mike Campbell does the same thing with nearly every solo he takes! (And the rest of the band ain't bad, neither!)

Most jazz I pick up are re-issues but two new ones I like a lot are Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi and Gary Burton & Pat Metheny's Quartet Live.

Classical has to be The Brahms Symphonies by The Berlin Phil under Simon Rattle. My favorite is Sym. 2, but 3 never sounded better!

Enough for now, 'cept to say that a few days before Christmas the used book store in my area had the three Complete Stax Singles box sets (from 1959 thru 1975) on an amazing sale (20 smackers for all 27-discs). Needless to say, I'm working my way through them and am embarrassed at how much of this terrific music I'm unfamiliar with. It says something that the "biggest" hits, the ones we all know, don't stand out, because all of the music is that good.

Happy New Year, everyone!
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby movieman1957 » January 2nd, 2010, 10:28 am

I wish I had your broad tastes. I have felt the same way about McCartney's live albums. Lots of the same stuff. The first time I heard "Things We Said Today" live was a real treat. I wish there were more buried gems like that. You can't blame him for playing "Hey Jude" but I already have two live recordings. I agree that more Wings stuff would be interesting especially with a new arrangement.

I also enjoy the Brahms' Symphonies. I have an old George Szell set. I like them all but have an ear for the 1st. My favorites are the Piano Concertos. I think the only things I have by Rattle are Tchaikovsky's "Mandfred" Symphony and a set of Brahms' "Serenades."

BTW, your Beatles review wasn't too long. I really enjoyed it and plan to use it when listening to the albums.
Chris

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby charliechaplinfan » January 2nd, 2010, 11:03 am

Don't laugh, mother in law bought me the sound track to Fiddler on the Roof, it's her favorite, so I've been listening to that and enjoying it. It's been ages since I watched the movie.
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby MichiganJ » January 2nd, 2010, 11:15 am

CCF:
Never saw the movie but love the soundtrack (and have it on now--thanks!) "If I were a rich man, do-do-do-do-do…"

Chris,
Love the Brahms' piano concertos!

I think piano concertos by most composers are my favorites. Love Rachmaninoff (even #2, although he ripped off Eric Carmen.) My favorite of all is Prokofiev's number 3. The first movement is absolute perfection. Never tire of it.
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby charliechaplinfan » January 2nd, 2010, 11:20 am

It's so catchy, I'll be singing it all night now. The film is very good, perhaps a little sad but never dull.
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby movieman1957 » January 2nd, 2010, 11:33 am

MichiganJ wrote:I think piano concertos by most composers are my favorites. Love Rachmaninoff (even #2, although he ripped off Eric Carmen.) My favorite of all is Prokofiev's number 3. The first movement is absolute perfection. Never tire of it.


Prokofiev has never been a favorite of mine and I don't recall listening to his 3rd. Must give it a try.

Imagine Rachmaninoff ripping off Eric Carmen. I have a recording by a singer named Jane Olivor that has a little bit of the Rachmaninoff #2 in it as well.

My bride and I have tickets to a small Baltimore Symphony series and the Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony is on the bill.

Do you have a favorite Piano Concerto? (Prokofiev's 3rd?)
Chris

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby MichiganJ » January 2nd, 2010, 4:53 pm

movieman1957 wrote:Do you have a favorite Piano Concerto?

By far my favorite piano concerto is Prokofiev's No. 3 in C ( I like Marta Argerich and the Berlin the best, but there is a recording of Prokofiev himself playing it lightning fast that is pretty great, too.)

In classical music I tend to either like the symphonies and piano concertos more than chamber music (although there are way too may exceptions). But I also love solo works, particularly on piano or guitar. I can listen to Chopin nocturnes or Beethoven's sonatas (by Barenboim especially) anytime. And Debussy! Can't forget his solo piano works!

Favorite symphony is Mozart's 25th and Beethoven's 2nd (or maybe 8th.) Love Stravinsky, and Prokofiev, too. Mahler (when I have the time), and Wagner, Holst (although my days in Public Radio have burned me out on The Planets--that, like Rachmaniff's 2nd piano concerto and plenty of others were in "high rotation").

Been listening to the late string quartets of Mozart lately (one of the "way too many exceptions" in regards to chamber music).

What are you favorites?
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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby movieman1957 » January 3rd, 2010, 7:19 pm

"Mahler, when I have time." I agree. I like Mahler's 5th best of his works.

Like you I tend toward the symphonies and concertos though I have loads of chamber music. In addition to Brahms' work I like Beethoven's 3rd and 4th Piano Concertos. I like his 8th Symphony too because it is unlike the others. Mostly I prefer his 3rd Symphony. I like Tchaikovsky's 2nd Piano Concerto, Elgar's Cello Concerto, Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini." My favorite piece of all is Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony. Oddly, I like Beethoven's Triple Concerto. Not a major piece but enjoyable.

For chamber music most anything by Beethoven (especially late works)or Brahms (he has wonderful early piano sonatas.) His String Quintets being favorites. Mendelssohn's Piano Trios. I also enjoy Bach's Cello Suites.

I have many Beethoven Sonatas by Brendel. I like Barenboim and Ashkenazy on piano. I use to love Lynn Harrel on cello. Many of my recordings I got back in the 70s so recordings of Serkin, Alicia de la Rocha and Emanuel Ax pepper my collection.

I have to check my library for Prokofiev.
Chris

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Re: What are you listening to?

Postby CharlieT » January 4th, 2010, 7:29 pm

movieman1957 wrote:

Do you have a favorite Piano Concerto? (Prokofiev's 3rd?)


I do. I love Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor.
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