Required recordings, spring 2010

January 7, 2010

As I explained back in August, I’m having my university students purchase a required recording every semester.

The purpose of this, of course, is to help the students develop good aural concepts of tone, phrasing, expression, vibrato, ensemble, and so forth. To try to learn to play an instrument well without a solid aural concept is like trying to learn a foreign language from a textbook. You might pick up a few things, but you’ll be sunk unless you get to really hear—over and over—how the words and phrases sound.

I’m discovering that it’s a challenge to make the recording selections meet all the criteria I’d like. For example, I would like for each one to:

  • Be by a major soloist, preferably living
  • Contain very standard literature that my students should know, without too many repeats from previous selections
  • Contrast with last semester’s selection (for example, if last semester’s recording was music with piano, I tried to pick a concerto recording this time around)
  • If at all possible, contribute to a sense of diversity

The last one has been a challenge. So far my two-semester tally, selecting recordings for four different instruments, is six white men and two white women. I’d like to improve on that in the future, though I do think that, ultimately, what comes through the earphones is more central to this project than the colors or genders represented on the CD covers. I’ve got a few ideas for future selections and welcome additional suggestions.

Here are this semester’s selections:

Oboe: Nancy Ambrose King Plays Oboe Concertos

Repertoire: Concerti by Mozart, Goosens, Vaughan Williams, and Martinů.

Clarinet: Paul Meyer, French Clarinet Art

Repertoire: Sonatas by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc, Chausson Andante et Allegro, Debussy Petite Pièce and Première Rhapsodie, Milhaud Sonatine and Duo Concertant, and Honegger Sonatine.

Bassoon: Dag Jensen, Musique pour Basson er Piano

Repertoire: Tansman Sonatine and Suite, Koechlin Sonate and Trois Pièces, Dutilleux Saraband et Cortège, and various short pieces by Bozza, Bitsch, and Mihalovici.

Saxophone: Claude Delangle, Under the Sign of the Sun

Repertoire: Ibert Concertino da Camera, Tomasi Concerto, Ravel Pavane pour une Infante défunte, Maurice Tableaux de Provence, Schmitt Légende, Milhaud Scaramouche.

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