Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Classical Music for Summer Gatherings?

 

Dear Salt Water New England,

I am hosting a few gatherings in early August and have what feels like a unique question.  I always have low classical music playing during open-houses in autumn and winter.  I want to have some music playing for these as well, but I don't have any great ideas for summer classical music.  Any suggestions?  Thank you! 

 

40 comments:

  1. Vivaldi The Four Seasons, Mozart Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, Mendelssohn A Midsummer Nights Dream

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  2. Debussy's Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune is another well-known piece that feels summery to me. I tend to like piano music rather than chamber/symphonic for the kind of gathering you have described. There are a large number of Mozart piano concertos and Chopin piano concertos and nocturnes that might work for you; five Beethoven piano concertos too.

    If you want to go a little more modern/popular, bridging toward jazz, a little more upbeat, Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue, Porgy & Bess, An American in Paris), Cole Porter, perhaps some of the lower-paced Duke Ellington works, all classics.

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  3. Grateful Dead. Oh wait, Chopin.

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    Replies
    1. Sugar Magnolia is the perfect summer tune!

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    2. Agreed. Plus, Lonely Island's I'm On A Boat. Or Chopin.

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  4. With respect, The Four Seasons, A Little Night Music, and the Mendelssohn strike me as classical Muzak, elevated elevator music. Instead of predictable warhorses, consider Bach's Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello--Yo Yo Ma's or Casals' versions--the age of reason made music. Rachel Podger is a gifted violinist who plays a period instrument with real gut strings--less vibrato. Her two volumes of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are sublime. And spritely. Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. Daniel Varsano has recorded a lovely album of Satie's piano works. All that said, I'd still play Bill Evans's Waltz for Debby first.

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    1. Anyone hunting for Bill Evans should look for Bill Evans' complete 1961 Village Vanguard sessions - Waltz for Debbie among them.

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    2. Spot on for Waltz for Debbie. Also that mid-1950s recording of Gould playing the Goldberg Variations is way beyond sublime.

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  5. Wagner's "Parsifal," five hours of music guaranteed.

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  6. Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz is my favorite as a music history grad, and always what I recommend to those who don't listen to classical regularly. Read up on how it was compsed!

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  7. Corelli concerti grossi would be pleasant summer music

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  8. Replies
    1. I put this on: https://youtu.be/4L1nYj7DwBs
      then under that the slow ocean waves
      https://youtu.be/vPhg6sc1Mk4

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  9. For background, I have Pandora streaming to my TV and then run the audio through my surround sound system in the great room. You can use an already configured stream (we like Dinner Jazz and Classics at Work) or you can configure your own "station." There are a few commercials on the free version which are not that annoying. With morning coffee at the windows overlooking the pond and the bird feeders, Pandora is always on the Shuttle Channel which provides a nice mix using the streams you have already selected.

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  10. Yo-Yo Ma's Adagio

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  11. Biggie Small "Back to Cali"

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    Replies
    1. Very descriptive with the lyrics, isn't he?

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  12. For a fun twist check out the "Yacht Rock" playlist on Spotify. Classics.

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  13. Sinatra, the Summer Wind.

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  14. Agree with the Bach heavy list above. Also, Haydn’s many quartets, while serious music to be sure, can be played in lively succession (there are so many) at length without seeming obtrusive or too heavy for the evening or the season. A lot depends on the mood: HR Sanctioned corporate, obligatory and everyone out by 10:30 - no 10:00 (cello suites); festively guarded, socially strategic and “we would love to come by for dinner” (Brandenburg concerti, like being on Firing Line); or familiar and friendly (partitas and sonatas).

    And though you did not ask, others have chimed in with alternative genre suggestions, so here is mine: Billy Holiday “The Complete Decca Recordings” if you have the windows open and the event is during the current heat wave. Languidly, pre-air conditioning paced music (and at least 70 songs?) with indiscernibly wistful lyrics. The overall effect is condensation on a high ball with old metal fans whirling. I’m no great jazz or blues fan, but a couple in our set always plays BH at summer evening gatherings and it’s become an understated, always pleasing signature and part of the summer soundtrack.

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  15. Music that is orchestral or frenetic makes poor back ground music in my esteem. I also find picking music because it is said to have a seasonal theme is pretty limiting. Solo piano or guitar music can work in that sort of a setting. I would suggest things like Erik Satie Maurice Ravel, or Claude Debussy piano music. The less classically structured pieces crossing over from late romantic into more modern are among my favorites, but they do not compel more casual listeners to perk up and pay attention. Some of the late classical, early romantic works like bagatelles from Beethoven or Tcherepnin work, too. If your tastes take you to earlier periods, I'd skip over the Classical era and get out Bach variations.

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  16. One song you might tuck into your playlist is "It Fell On a Summer's Day" by Thomas Campion (1567-1620), played by the wonderful Julian Bream Consort on its "An Evening of Elizabethan Music" album (1963.) It would be fun to see if any of your guests notice the saucy lyrics.

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  17. Since others have already moved out of classical to Sinatra and yacht rock, I'll stick with my previous recommendation of solo piano (or guitar) and suggest as great non-classical selections Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck if you can edit out the more frenetic pieces like Rondo a la Turk, and maybe Mose Allison. If you want soft vocal stylings, Nora Jones ain't too shabby. It is very important to select records that keep the right mood all the way through. One evening we put on Coltrane's My Favorite Things. When Coltrane really took off (wow) all conversation stopped, and everyone listened. If you lean towards guitar, I'd stay away from jazz guitarists. Even when they are soft they tend to be dazzling. No one will want to talk if Kenny Burrell is playing. Stick to classical guitarists like Julian Bream or Christopher Parkening.

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  18. Two Cellos. Joshua Bell.

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  19. Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer - Bach Trios

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  20. classical summer music would be cool jazz

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  21. Soundtrack to American Graffiti.

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  22. A very pleasant "bridge" between classical and contemporary is the music of Claude Bolling ... lighthearted enough to be considered summery. I first heard it at a lovely cocktail party hosted by my father-in-law, a retired college president, and his genuinely charming Southern Belle wife

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  23. If you have the Spotify app, search “Jazz Meets Classical”. In my opinion, it has the perfect summer feel. Lighter and not as heavy as pure classical. The Pandora app probably has something similar.

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  24. Star Wars soundtrack (45th anniversary), A Summer Place (Percy Faith), Victory At Sea (Richard Rodgers)

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  25. I love all the suggestions here, but would like to add another possibility--the much loved Grammy-winning pianist whose compositions and piano art fitting for summer entertaining "background" music. Her name is Ann Sweeten. Among her albums are Sapphire Days, Prism, Reflections, A Place in the Sun, Where Butterflies Dance, Before Today-Beyond Tomorrow, and Change is in the Wind.

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  26. Nothing says summer like Jimmy Buffett and Carolina beach music.

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    Replies
    1. Classical music is my favorite but you can't beat Carolina beach music in the summer. It immediately makes me feel young again.

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  27. This may be a bit off the usual track, but a couple of years ago, I played the soundtrack from a movie called "A Good Year" at an outdoor cookout. The soundtrack is an eclectic collection of songs including a French version of "Hey Joe." It went over surprisingly well.

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  28. In all my fifty working years, I had only been to one summer gathering in which music was played, which in that instance was live music with a singer. The only number I remember was "Summer Samba."

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  29. Garrison HalibutJuly 25, 2022 at 9:29 AM

    A lot of people commenting here apparently don't know what classical music is, or simply want to air their opinions about music without any regard for the needs of the person who posted the question.

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    1. Garrison Halibut is absolutely correct. Let me mediate by suggesting Claude Debussy and Frederic Chopin!

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  30. French jazz at an outdoor meal in August is a fun choice...try Pomplamoose, Les Escrocs, Stephan Grappelli etc...played on lower volume and serve lots of Jacquelines, a chilled cocktail made of white wine, grenadine and soda..

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