Least favorite concerto?

Edited: July 5, 2020, 5:07 AM · Mine is... idk

Replies (65)

Edited: July 4, 2020, 4:08 AM · Probably the Tchaikovski Violin concerto in D major. The opening sounds like an audition piece or what someone would play when trying out a violin.
Edited: July 4, 2020, 4:26 AM · Elgar?

or Mozart 1, but only because it seems so trite after listening to the oboe, and to a lesser extent, the flute concertos.

I have no ambitions beyond chamber music. Forced to solo a lot on the piano in the 70s. Hated it. Never understood how anyone could tolerate doing it for a living.

July 4, 2020, 5:47 AM · Tchaikovsky violin concerto. I find the last movement irritating, especially the slower second theme. (Not that I'll ever have any reason to learn it, seeing as I'm almost exclusively a violist.)

On the instrument I actually play, my least-favorite is the Stamitz concerto.

July 4, 2020, 6:36 AM · I hate to read unthinkingly negative opinions of pieces I love to death. Elgar indeed.
Edited: July 4, 2020, 10:50 AM · Andrew, which Stamitz do you mean? I rather like the slow movement of the D major Viola "Opus 1", and I wouldn't refuse to perform the rondo again.
As for MY least favourite concerto, I've probably neither heard not written it - The pit's the limit (Can't say "The sky's the limit" in this instance!). Millies's C-major (an emaciated reflection of the Vivaldi A minor), of the ones I've heard, is a contender. I don't think Nardini is that wonderful, either. And, of the Great Concertos, I do see what people mean about the Tchaik.
July 4, 2020, 8:39 AM · Well, my first answer is anything by Viotti, but those are student concertos so I am not sure they count.

Of the major concertos, my least favorite is Paganini. It's a whole bunch of tricks with no substance.

July 4, 2020, 10:47 AM · The Viotti Concertos are not student pieces-they are mature works of the period, even if mostly played by students nowadays. If they are, so are the Mozart, Bach, Lalo, Bruch, etc. The true student concertos are the Seitz, etc. I always find it amusing how modern taste "herd" mentality deems some concertos unworthy, when they were real favorites among the now deemed great composers.

Just a sample of poor students who never made it to "the Bruch level" (I searched the website for instructions on how to post links so they show directly. Did not find a way.):





(Kreisler's own version-differs a bit from his own published version for violin and piano, but has some of the changes.)

There are also some more modern recordings around, but just wanted to highlight how violin music is not about "student" vs "real" works. A badly performed Mozart 3 sounds as bad as a massacred Viotti 22nd. A well-performed Viotti is great music-unless one wants to restrict one's "real music" repertoire to a handful, "concert hall-vetted" few works.

That said, Ms. Agrawal's viewpoint is common among the modern teacher-student-parent dynamic of our day. This is not a personal attack, but more a lamentation about this whole way of thinking on my part. If you think the above artists besmirched their instruments and artistry by deigning to play such a despicable, unworthy work, then that is your choice.

Many also think the Vieuxtemps, Spohr, Wieniawski, etc. are student works, and even the Lalo SE. So be it. On my part, I shall treat them all as music on their own merits, rather than comparing everything to the Brahms Concerto.

The Paganini are great too, but it is impossible to convince someone who who has a natural disdain to any resemblance of virtuosity in music. It is not something I want to elaborate further on. I could listen to his concertos any day, and most times, however.

On topic: I do not think I hate any concerto I have heard except a few by very modern composers-it wasn't that they were modern, but that I did not like the music (and I do not remember the composer's names.) Some modern works are great.

When I was young I had a tendency to dislike the more hackneyed pieces of music that everyone had to play, but now I am older, and better understand the value of these important works in the repertoire.

(That said, younger players should be wary to so readily dismiss chamber music, even if you do not often play in ensembles. So much great music out there that is not soloistic in nature, and is also essential to round out one's musical growth.)

Best wishes to all, and stay safe. Feel free to disagree.

July 4, 2020, 11:56 AM · I actually really like Paganini's music. His melodies are more like those of the Italian opera composers of his time, like Rossini. He has some beautiful second movements and other slower works, which admittedly tend not to get much play in the concert hall.

DeBeriot No. 1 shows up on the soundtrack for Age of Empires 4, if I recall correctly. It's more of an earworm than you might guess, if heard repeatedly.

July 4, 2020, 2:00 PM · @Adalberto, I have to strongly disagree with you on Viotti. I've analyzed a few of them and they just are not constructed very well. They are sub-par compositions in my opinion. The melodies are lackluster; the form predictable. They have none of the elegance and galant style of Mozart. It has absolutely nothing to do with them being student concertos. There are plenty of student concertos I really like -- heck, I think Seitz #3 is awesome! And I have a fondness for Accolay, even if it is a bit hokey at the end.

As for Paganini, there are tons of Paganini pieces I do like. The concerto #1 ranks low on my list of Paganini works. I don't hate it; it just is my least favorite of all the major concertos.

July 4, 2020, 2:38 PM · The Brahms concerto. The last movement sounds out of place compared to the rest
July 4, 2020, 3:12 PM · I actually do like Seitz and the Accolay. I just do not think in terms of "student pieces" vs "masterworks", as the latter are especially constrained and limited in our modern days. There is plenty of DeBeriot that I like too (though I believe many of his works were also not initially pedagogical, as they are often seen now.)

Viotti was so influential for our violin world, we may have had a different history without him. Paganini gladly played his works when he was young, and I bet many important performers of the day did so as well. Maestro Brahms and his friend Joachim most certainly appreciated the 22nd, and it was only later in the 20th century that the piece started to be neglected, and deemed more of a stepping stone, "student work". I could say that the 23rd is beautiful, but the 22nd is masterful to me, and quite inspired.

Paganini 3 is awesome, perhaps his most Rossinian of the 6, though all owe a lot to Rossini. The 4th, the 2nd, the 5th with those melancholy, singing octaves in the 1st mvmt. His violin voice was that of a virtuoso diva of the time.

As I have said before, however, I like most violin works-perhaps the secret behind my poor musical judgement.

On topic-I used to dislike the Shostakovich Concertos as a young musical ignoramus, and now love both!

July 4, 2020, 5:09 PM · Where does one even find performances of Paganini VCS beyond the second?
July 4, 2020, 5:49 PM · Salvatore Accardo recorded a full set of the six Paganinis that are quite lovley.
July 4, 2020, 6:45 PM · Massimo Quarta, and Accardo (twice) as Ms. Leong stated. I do like Accardo's earlier version with Dutoit better.

Buy the CDs, and enjoy. You can always transfer CDs to digital format if you wish. I found the included booklets a fun read.

July 4, 2020, 6:50 PM · John, I am referring to the most frequently played Stamitz viola concerto, the D major Op. 1.
July 4, 2020, 6:55 PM · Andrew I enjoy the Stamitz D major. Although its my least favourite. The Benda F major and Hoffmeister B flat are superior in my opinion
July 4, 2020, 7:01 PM · Elgar-- occasionally, a violinist can spin gold from straw. I performed it once with Oscar Shumsky and heard some wonderful bits of magic in rehearsal. Unfortunately, it usually strikes me as like walking through mud in snow shoes, while singing all of Lloyd-Webber's worst tunes.
Edited: July 4, 2020, 11:16 PM · Another two thumbs up here for Viotti No. 22. Adalberto there is a great recording by Lola Bobesco on YouTube that you didn't link. Fairly telling that Grumiaux put it on the same album as the Beethoven!

Nobody talks about the other Viotti concertos (well sometimes people mention No. 23), but on the other hand in this thread you've got people saying Mozart No. 1 is "trite" too.

Coming back to which concerto(s) I don't like: Viola concertos. They're about as useful as bassoon or trombone or alto saxophone concertos.

Oh .. you meant violin concertos. I don't like the Schoenberg violin concerto, but that could be because it's basically a student piece.

July 4, 2020, 11:28 PM · A bit OT but I need to get this off my chest.

A few years ago, I overheard a comment while we were waiting for a concert to start. A teenager was talking to her parents' friends and said rather loudly for everyone around her to hear, "Well, he (the soloist) is only playing Bruch. It's a popular student concerto. I played it when I was 13."

I don't know why some people feel this way about violin repertoire. My middle school's drama coach was a big Shakespeare fan so we did one production each year. Still, I didn't go around thinking afterward that Shakespearean plays were student-grade stuff.

Going back to the question at hand, I don't get Vieuxtemps.

July 4, 2020, 11:56 PM · Hate those people, music is not just learning notes, there are interpretations. Bruch 3rd mov is not a student level work either! Some people shouldn't learn to play any instruments. I wouldn't wanna listen to an ignorant 13 year old play Bruch. Even within a single piece there are different levels of playing. Saw a comment on Sumina Studer's Mozart 3, it said that "I'm playing this at 12 years old, so why is she playing it?"
July 5, 2020, 12:24 AM · I enjoy Vieuxtemp's music as a whole. His viola stuff is pretty decent
Edited: July 5, 2020, 2:06 AM · Our particular dislikes reveal more about ourselves than the things we dislike. I dislike ostentatious displays of virtuosity (because I can't do it?) which means I get little pleasure from most violin music of the 19th century, violin sonatas excepted. There are only a few violin concerti from the romantic period in which I feel every note is musically justified. Beethoven's is surely the first and greatest "romantic" concerto, without a single superfluous note until his unwritten cadenza in which I hear him thinking "I suppose I'd better give this chap his chance to show off a bit". Mendelssohn's is another in which the player's technique is put entirely in the service of the music. After that it's hard to think of any until...Elgar.
July 5, 2020, 5:08 AM · Brahms Vc isn’t too showy, it has a beautiful orchestration.
July 5, 2020, 5:11 AM · In Brahms I’m too impressed by the music to be impressed by technique.
July 5, 2020, 7:34 AM · Yes, you're right, in the Brahms the virtuosity does have a clear musical purpose.
July 5, 2020, 1:52 PM · I didn't say it was showy
July 5, 2020, 2:47 PM · Was talking to Steve not you Watson
Edited: July 5, 2020, 6:20 PM · I don’t think I have a least favorite (although I haven’t warmed up to Berg or Schoenberg yet but I will give them another chance. I can’t get enough of Vivaldi). But I do have have a question. Does a concerto need to have more than one movement? Are there any one movement violin concertos? (Perhaps because a movement was lost or not completed by the composer, or there was a single movement by intention).

July 5, 2020, 6:33 PM · Apparently there is one by Amanda Maier who appears to be a Romantic composer
July 5, 2020, 6:38 PM · Vieuxtemps 5 is basically one movement, I believe he originally intended it to be so.
July 5, 2020, 7:05 PM · Isn't the Accolay concerto one movement?

If you want something that's not a student concerto, the recently rediscovered Florence Price Violin Concerto No. 2 is one movement.

The most famous single-movement concerto (for any instrument) is probably Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.

July 5, 2020, 9:53 PM · Khatchaturian.
July 5, 2020, 10:12 PM · Glazunov is a single movement.

July 6, 2020, 1:04 AM · There are a few that are continuous, but you could argue really have more than one movement. The Glazunov and Vieuxtemps 5 are continuous, but I would say are pretty clearly a few different movements. The Szymanowski 2 is continuous, but is really 2 movements split up by a cadenza. I had to look up the Bartok 1 to make sure, but it is clearly 2 separate movements which usually seem to be played with little to no pause between.

The Szymanowski 1, though, might be hard to classify as separate movements within a continuous piece - I think it's pretty close to a real single movement.

July 6, 2020, 3:54 AM · When is the world ready to accept Vieuxtemps 5 as a one movement concerto?
July 6, 2020, 7:05 AM · I mean there are three completely different characters, tempos, sets of markings in vieuxtemps 5. I would call that 3 movements.
Edited: July 8, 2020, 2:33 PM · Re: Viotti 22..

Viotti wrote some really rubbishy "concertos" for students ("But Mr. Heath, this isn't even music!") and No 22 is one of the exceptions.

However, despite some stellar recordings (Kreisler, Oistrakh, Grumiaux) and some really beautiful lyrical melodies, I find much of it pompous and disconnected.

I have similar reactions to much of Vieuxtemps and Paganini: lovely tunes, with inferior padding.

July 6, 2020, 6:25 PM · Vieuxtemps 5 is played like a single movement, even the length suggests so! Didn’t he write it for his students to use in auditions or something? Probably made it 3movement just to look like a real concerto!
July 6, 2020, 6:35 PM · Jk love u Henri
July 6, 2020, 10:52 PM · Xuanyuan have you been drinking?
July 6, 2020, 11:56 PM · Hydration is paramount!
July 7, 2020, 12:51 AM · I would love to learn Vieuxtemps 5, so virtuosic. I think 4 has a more interesting orchestration though. I can’t learn Wieniawski 1 anytime soon so Vieuxtemps seems like a good stopgap solution.
July 7, 2020, 1:54 AM · Xuanyuan, you might dig the Saint Saens 1st violin concerto, Op. 20. It's essentially a single movement.
July 7, 2020, 2:32 PM · Saint-Saens 1 is really nice
July 7, 2020, 8:12 PM · The Faure is a single movement. He used the material again in his string quartet, which I like a lot better,
July 7, 2020, 9:59 PM · I think, more correctly, he only got around to one movement. Sounds like an interesting curiosity, though.
July 7, 2020, 10:28 PM · Adrian, Viotti did NOT write student concertos.

Viotti was the touring French virtuoso of his time. He wrote his concertos for himself. He strongly influenced writing for the violin during his time period -- notably even Beethoven and his violin concerto.

Edited: July 8, 2020, 12:27 AM · Was just listening to Viotti's 29th to make sure of this supposed pompous quality to his music in his other concertos not named the 22nd. I did not find any such attributes, but then again my music taste is quite suspect, I suppose. His imprint, yes, but no such self-importance; while "no 22nd", I can imagine the audience of his time loving listening to Viotti perform it at his best.

(Side note/performance: this is Mr. Beilman playing the Kreisler's arrangement of the 22nd concerto, for violin and piano, as printed not so long ago by Carl Fischer:


Not for purists, but then again Kreisler was never too "pure", and "purity" wasn't the point in his time-or if it was, he did not mind it very much.)

To add a note about the aforementioned-and much disliked-violin composers above, I always find it funny how Paganini's 6th/"0" Concerto sounds like a traditional homage to Viotti, "super-powered" with lots of Paganini's technical wizardry, though even then he restrained himself quite a bit from what he was to do beginning from #1.

Also, to "get" Vieuxtemps-and I get why some would not "get him"-one would do well to study his other concertos and works that led to the more famous 4th and 5th concertos. The Paganini influence is evident (listen to No. 1), but he tempered what he could do quite a bit to serve the music-an alternate, more "restrained" take at virtuoso violin playing. It is, in my opinion, modern taste that deems his music mostly trite-so if one thinks Viotti is "self-worship", of course both Paganini and Vieuxtemps will be even more disliked, despite the latter being so well-respected as a composer during his day.

I know I will never convince anyone predisposed to dislike music from all of these composers from changing their opinion, but perhaps someone may read this one day, and find value in investigating-and perhaps even performing-their works.

Take care-keep practicing, and keeping yourselves safe.

July 8, 2020, 12:28 AM · Vieuxtemps went through a phase of Paganini admiration like how teens go through a phase of rebellion, they come out 3x as wise and 10x more ashamed.
July 8, 2020, 9:07 AM · The number of other composers that have used Paganini material ...
He must have had something going for him!
No one has mentioned Cantonella, which does have some musical qualities - I gather he sacrificed some flashiness to make more satisfying music? There's a YouTube of it being oerformed on the viola.
Edited: July 8, 2020, 2:34 PM · Well, I shall have to find more of Viotti's concertos to review my judgements. The ones imposed on my students were certainly void of musical sense: a sort of super Accolay.

Perhaps being brought up on the Anglican choral tradition plus discs of the big romantic concertos has distorted my taste!

So, off to U-Toob..

July 8, 2020, 9:03 PM · Adalberto, it's always interesting to hear a different opinion. As a mom of a young violinist, I don't have a say in her repertoire selection so I am learning to live with composers outside of my personal preference and I am open to the possibility that perhaps one day, I'll actually like these composers.
July 8, 2020, 10:58 PM · Kiki I think thats the best way to be haha
Edited: July 8, 2020, 11:28 PM · "As a mom of a young violinist, I don't have a say in her repertoire selection..."

Au contraire! If your daughter is doing Mozart 3, you're supposed to be hounding her teacher to let her do Bruch. If she's doing Bruch, then "when is Mendelssohn" and so on. It's the tiger-parent way. LOL.

(By the way Viotti never comes up in such discussions.)

July 8, 2020, 11:41 PM · Viotti concerto no.69 op.420 is a nice one. Beautiful harmonies and melodies, good orchestration and a nice flex.
July 9, 2020, 12:42 AM · Nice
July 9, 2020, 1:41 AM · Sorry for the dead meme guys, I have no idea why this meme became the big funny of 2019.
July 9, 2020, 7:54 AM · I'll bet most violinists don't know how many concertos Viotti wrote without looking it up. Quite a few! Still, it's not a sin to be prolific. Look at Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert. I think if I were a young student studying composition I would forget about trying to find "my own voice" which nobody would probably listen to anyway and I'd figure out what made guys like Mendelssohn really tick. And I'd write another Mendelssohn concerto. Probably it would never be performed though. It wouldn't be hard enough and people would assume it's a "student" concerto.
July 9, 2020, 10:45 AM · A Student Concerto is not necessarily easy, it's just mindless.
July 9, 2020, 1:01 PM · Just downloaded all 31 concertos from a U-Toob playlist. Stop.
Will report later.Stop.
July 9, 2020, 7:14 PM · It would probably be taken more seriously if it has some left-hand pizzicato in it.
July 9, 2020, 7:33 PM · Nah, left hand pizz is easy.
July 13, 2020, 10:03 AM · Hi,

These are concertos that I hate:

- Elgar
- Viotti n°1 - n°29
- Ligeti


July 15, 2020, 10:29 AM · I'm not that mad keen on De Beriot, but if Berio had written one, I think it would make it to my hate list. I've not listened to Tartiniana, but I suspect, from my experience of Dallapiccola's Vivaldi realizations, that it might make it too.
Edited: July 16, 2020, 10:22 PM · I actually like DeBeriot's Scene de Ballet. :P He was an important teacher to be sure.

Another gentleman that never made it past student works:


In all seriousness, I do not mind being in the minority, and no one should be forced to like Viotti. I just wish people knew better what they hated, rather than just accepting and repeating modern, "common knowledge" based on their limited experience with this important violinist composer based on the 22nd and 23rd concertos alone, and them being offered as student works by many teachers. No one should download his full concertos to force himself/herself to love something they may never be predisposed to enjoy-much less on my account.

(Yes I understand some of you may know the works and just do not like Viotti. But I am *sure* at least one person above knows little of the composer, and still hates all of his output based on the expertise of youth. Nothing wrong with being young, of course-I once was as well, and for better or worse, also dismissed many composers and works I would never do today. Bye.)

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