Thursday, October 9, 2014

musical commentary

Lisa Irontongue is passing along a meme of asking for pieces you never want to hear again and pieces you want to hear more often.

The concert music I most devoutly wish never to hear again consists almost entirely of bloated, self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing sludge from the gasbag Giganticist period of the turn of the 20th century, and a Top Ten might look like this.
  1. Mahler, Symphony No. 5
  2. Mahler, Symphony No. 6
  3. Mahler, Symphony No. 7
  4. Mahler, Symphony No. 8
  5. Mahler, Symphony No. 9
  6. Mahler, Symphony No. 10
  7. Strauss, Death and Transfiguration
  8. Strauss, Ein Heldenleben
  9. Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra
  10. Brian, Gothic Symphony
It only remains to be noted that the openings of the last two works are absolutely gripping, and it's a pity that they soon both devolve into acres of worthless crap. Everybody's lists of "want to hear more often" seems to focus on early and recent music. I can still find some 18th and 19th century composers I'd like to hear more often. To name one I have heard in concert a couple times, how about Arriaga? One striking piece of his I have heard played is this. The orchestral supposed warhorse that's the most underplayed these days compared to its deserts is the Franck Symphony. It has three movements, and here they are in the best recording I've ever heard, by Pierre Monteux and the Chicago Symphony: first, second, third. Over at my workplace, it appears that reviews of the Kronos Quartet attract angry responses even when I don't write them. One of our newest reviewers got slammed in comments for a "hit job" when, it seemed to me, his only crime was daring to give a negative review for a piece the commenter liked. I've been there, so I stepped in for the defense - even though I'd heard the work at another venue and liked it more, though possibly the venue accounts for the difference. I also know and like another piece on the program better than he does, but he justifies his opinion well, so I have no complaints.

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