A classical education with Alex Ross

The New Yorker's author of the recently released collection Listen to This, touches on five must-owns for the classical-music neophyte.

Photograph: David Michalek


Beethoven, “Eroica” Symphony: “Two crashing chords followed by 45 minutes of conflict—this revolutionary symphony is the first novel in sound. Leonard Bernstein conducts it vibrantly on a Sony CD, then explains how it works.”
Buy Bernstein’s 1966 recording of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony on iTunes


Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring: “Esa-Pekka Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic (DG) have made perhaps the best modern recording of Stravinsky’s masterpiece of controlled chaos.”
Buy Salonen’s 2006 recording of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring on iTunes


Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians: “Toward the end of a difficult century, the minimalist pioneer reasserted the power of clear, crisp harmony. There’s a vivid, youthful recording of the piece by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble.”
Buy the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble’s 2007 recording of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians on iTunes


Bach, Mass in B Minor: “Philippe Herreweghe, on Harmonia Mundi, goes deeper than any recent conductor into Bach’s labyrinth of musical faith.”
Buy Bach’s Mass in B Minor on iTunes


Schubert, String Quintet: “If you don’t mind a slightly scratchy acoustic, Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals and friends, on Sony, deliver an impassioned performance of a work that essentially closes the conversation on musical beauty.”
Buy Stern’s 1953 recording of Schubert’s string quintet on iTunes

On Sun 3, Ross will be discussing Listen to This at The New Yorker Festival.

Buy Listen to this by Alex Ross on Amazon.com | Buy it on BN.com

See more in Books