Major works

October 1, 2021, 5:39 AM · Are there any "big" pieces you don't like? As in to listen to or teach etc.?
I ask because I've recently found myself trying to myself to like the Brahms concerto. I don't dislike it, but I'd rather Wieniawski (either) or basically anything else. It just doesn't really do anything for me. How about you?

Replies (80)

October 1, 2021, 6:29 AM · Tchaikovsky first movement, I personally feel like it is so repetitive and find myself wanting to stop around 5 minutes in
October 1, 2021, 7:58 AM · Landon, the last movement is even more repetitive!
Edited: October 1, 2021, 8:19 AM · The Tchaikovsky violin concerto irritates me. For that matter, I find most Tchaikovsky irritating, even though I love many of his contemporaries and many composers influenced by him. I think it's the amount of repetition.
October 1, 2021, 8:43 AM · Those are a few of my favorite things!
October 1, 2021, 8:48 AM · Andrew, I find Tchaikovsky uneven as a composer: The contrast between the first two movements of his 2nd piano concerto is a case in point - I would be very surprised if anyone guessed my preferences the wrong way round.
October 1, 2021, 9:07 AM · Tchaikovsky for me too - I'm not sure why. I'm neutral about the Brahms - not one of my favourite composers, but it is a very fine violin concerto after all. I find Bartok 2 somewhat uneven - the first movement is very satisfying, but I find the second and third not quite on the same level. But I keep trying - maybe one day I will 'get it'.
October 1, 2021, 9:30 AM · I hope no one roasts me.

I do not like Beethoven's violin concerto at all (I'm a super big Beethoven fan when it comes to piano repertoire, just saying). I also don't like Lalo; it was probably the piece that made me feel the most unmotivated to practice. I would also copy Landon's comment and paste it to Paganini concerto #1.

October 1, 2021, 9:30 AM · Richard, I have never even attempted to listen to the third movement as I hated the first so much, though surprisingly I find myself loving the repetitive nature of the canzonetta, I feel like it fits more and is easier to make sound interesting.
October 1, 2021, 9:54 AM · Bruch Concerto No.1 I don't actively dislike it, but I don't find it very engaging.
October 1, 2021, 10:15 AM · For me with Brahms, I have enjoyed about 90% of everything else I have listened to of his (I adore his chamber music, for example). I also agree with Peter about Bartok 2: the first movement is one of my all time favourite movements, but the other 2 don't really stack up well.
October 1, 2021, 10:27 AM · Landon - yes, I agree about the Tchaikovsky canzonetta, especially that lovely repetition where the woodwind decorate (weep over?) the melody. I loved this concerto as a youngster. I still like it but in a more balanced way.

I find the Stravinsky concerto irritating and silly - not much better than works by Jacques Ibert. I don't think I'm alone in this: it seems not to be played that often. A shame though that, at least in Europe, Samuel Barber's violin concerto is under-appreciated.

October 1, 2021, 10:36 AM · To me, the key to appreciating the piece is finding something in the music that reflects the composer's inner "voice."

For example, during Paganini's childhood he heard lots and lots of Italian opera. If you take, say, the 1st movement of his 2nd Violin Concerto, to me it sounds like opera music, with the violin being the solo voice (even in the fast passages). In fact, during the orchestral introduction you can almost see a curtain opening, and the prelude to the violin's entrance is preparing for the solo singer. The solos have that vocal quality, and the orchestra sounds like a typical operatic orchestral accompaniment.

Likewise, I find myself listening to the 1st movement of the Tchaikovsky concerto with renewed enthusiasm. More and more, it makes sense to me to listen to it as if it is ballet music.

And as to Brahms, to me his focus is primarily orchestral music, with the solo violin not as a separate musical entity but as an an integral part of the orchestral pattern.

The point is, find something that reflects the composer's inner musical "voice." Use your imagination, both from the facts of the composer's life and inspiration, and from what to you makes sense. What do you think this composer is trying to express?

I don't have any "proof" for all this. But to me it's more than notes, pretty tunes, and challenging technique.

October 1, 2021, 10:51 AM · Sander I completely get what you're saying. But for me, the third movement of Brahms doesn't fir the other 2. I think thats what bothers me most
Edited: October 1, 2021, 2:12 PM · Yeah, Bruch 1

Also, I think the vast majority of Paganini is just awful (but that's not exactly in the realm of the "3 B's")

October 1, 2021, 11:07 AM · Bruch 2 should be played more. Bruch 1 is so boring.
October 1, 2021, 12:56 PM · I pretty much don't like anything by Sarasate.
October 1, 2021, 2:14 PM · 3rd movement of the Brahms?....How about a Hungarian dance?
October 1, 2021, 6:29 PM · Bach S & P

Sorry, I know that's an awful thing to say but I just can't stand them anymore. It has become an almost nightmarish experience for me that never ever ends. I used to love them.

October 1, 2021, 6:50 PM · Hangarian Dances are great, yeah. Love them
October 1, 2021, 6:59 PM · As an orchestral player, the Great C Monster (Schubert 9)
October 1, 2021, 7:24 PM · I hear you Malcolm. One of the ‘Great’ technique damagers of all time.
Cheers,
Buri
October 1, 2021, 7:36 PM · Malcom and Buri, we are playing that in my community orchestra at the moment. I really like it
October 1, 2021, 8:44 PM · Anybody else signing up for Beethoven's Grosse Fuge? it is just so disconcertingly aggressive and sometimes downright ugly.
Edited: October 1, 2021, 8:46 PM · Greetings,
Jake, make sure you warm up and pay attention to using minimu effort for maximum output.(I’m sure you always do anyway!)
I was really impressed by Sander’s post. I’m gonna stick this on my wall and keep pointing at it when teaching:
The point is, find something that reflects the composer's inner musical "voice." Use your imagination, both from the facts of the composer's life and inspiration, and from what to you makes sense. What do you think this composer is trying to express?

On the other hand, I may have to somehow convert it into an emoji…
I have to confess to being put little puzzled by the negativity towards certain concertos that are so mainstream. I wonder if it has anything to do with today’s bizarre ease of accessibilty or not? Maybe when I was a kid and you had that one wax disc of Viotti 23 and nothing else you had to learn to like it because there was nothing else. The Bruch may have been murdered a million times by a million students but listening to Menuhin, Gitlis or whoever playing this , and pretty much anything else still just blows this particular old fart away.
Cheers,
Burp

October 1, 2021, 9:15 PM · When I was young, rebellious, and foolish, I did not like too much/appreciate certain hackneyed works that are truly masterpieces. Now devoid of youth-if not the other characteristics-I have come to love every masterwork, and am able do so without ignoring the other beautiful works that IMHO are so often unjustly neglected. One can stand for the "underdog" works without denying oneself the high art of the commonly regarded great concertos of the repertoire.

(Works like the Bruch G minor and Lalo SE are somewhat unjustly "hated" because of the silly "student concerto" moniker they are stamped with. Everything is a student piece... as they all need to be studied. Beautiful music is beautiful, whatever place they have in the common student concerto progression.)

Edited: October 1, 2021, 9:34 PM · Not for me, at least. My dislike towards Lalo SE has nothing to do with it being a student concerto at all; just feel unrelated when listening to it. On the other hand, I actually like Bruch.

Showing appreciation is one thing, but fall-in-love or even feel obsessed with it is another... Do I appreciate the way Beethoven's VC was written? Hell-ya. But if I were asked to choose a Beethoven concerto to listen to given 40 minutes of free time, is it my go-to piece? I'd probably pick Op. 37 or 73 over it.

October 1, 2021, 9:50 PM · You are in good company., Menuhin also never seemed to be able to get his head round the Lalo despite being one of the greatest heads that ever existed.
Cheers
buri
October 1, 2021, 10:48 PM · The Lalo I adore. I just love the Spanishness of it. I feel Tchaik second movement has a bit of Spanish flavor as well
October 1, 2021, 11:45 PM · Korngold. Can’t stand it.
October 1, 2021, 11:48 PM · The first movement of the Bruch has no melodies. It's just a bunch of noodling.
October 2, 2021, 12:52 AM · I disagree: That first movement of Bruch 1 is not in serious concerto first movement form. It is more of an introduction, a door opener and a very good opportunity for the solo violin to introduce itself, better in that regard than most concertos that start with a long orchestral exposition. It also has plenty of melody, just not in a strictly periodic, songlike way. Following such a first movement the adagio, which is just wonderful, becomes the main movement of the piece. It is the last movement that does not live up to the first two.
October 2, 2021, 2:58 AM · It's okay, but it's no Accolay ;-)

The 3rd movement may be second-rate Brahms, but it's the only part of the concerto I can stand aside from a short sequence of descending chords in the 1st movement that sound like they are the phrasal response to a good melody that doesn't ever come before.

Also, I forgot - The Elgar Cello concerto is a bunch of hokey melodrama - What a terrible piece!

October 2, 2021, 4:02 AM · Not telling. What I like and dislike is of no consequence in the great scheme of things
October 2, 2021, 6:36 AM · Sorry, but what a depressing topic.

However, thank you Sander for a great post, made it a little worth while.

October 2, 2021, 8:24 AM · Buri, actually my favorite concertos are Bruch 1 and Lalo SE, with a particular like to how they are paced. I can feel like I’m moving through the piece and each moment feels like it has meaning.
October 2, 2021, 8:28 AM · Christian, Elgar composed his cello concerto in 1919, shortly after the end of WW1. It reflects in many ways the general reaction of people in the aftermath of that dreadful conflict. Melodrama? - perhaps, in the best sense of the word; but certainly not "hokey".

I studied that concerto in-depth for my Grade 8 cello, in which I am happy to say I attained top marks.

Edited: October 2, 2021, 11:46 AM · I think how one feels about particular pieces of music depends on their individual life experiences. It can also depend on how they have heard the music played.

I have always felt positively about the major violin concertos discussed thus far. However, my father was an amateur violinist and he practiced those concertos. This was in the days of 78 rpm recordings when it required 3 to 5 records to hold an entire concerto. I can only recall 4 that we had at home: Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky - all with Heifetz as the soloist. Heifetz was my idol!

So I grew up with those sounds - Heifetz and my father and when I resumed playing at age 13, after an 18 month hiatus followed by the Bach A minor and Mozart's 3 & 5 those sounds I had grown up with became my inspiration and I worked on the Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky concertos. I really worked long and hard on the first two, but only a few occasional read-throughs of the next two over a number of years. I finally concluded that I would never be able to do justice to them or Paganini-1, I think I was about 40 when I discovered Bruch - and that went OK.

With the arrival of adulthood and the advent of LP recordings (and later CDs) I gradually built my own record collection and learned that there were actually other (and perhaps even better) ways to interpret those concertos that the way Heifetz had.

I think that if anyone, including myself, does not like a piece of music that others are willing to listen to, it is likely that either I have not heard it played properly or I have not figured out how it should be played. (--- or maybe we were right all along{:-)}

I think some music IS BAD. I remember attending a concert where the SF Symphony performed the Schoenberg orchestration of the Brahms G minor piano quartet. Now, I was coached years earlier by Colin Hampton (cellist of the Griller Quartet - "back in the day") on that piano quartet and performed it at a workshop. There are some pieces of music that do not transfer well between instruments. Some pieces require the instruments they were composed for - and that is one of them. So is the Beethoven violin concerto when it is transformed to the PIANO version - it just ain't the same music.

TIMBRE and phrasing are really important. A few years ago I attended a Midori master class - as far as I am concerned her phrasing and timbre are such that I would be satisfied hearing her play just a single note.

October 2, 2021, 1:01 PM · I find that my feelings about a work can change a lot when I study it. I often found the Beethoven boring until I studied it myself, for instance, and now I really love it.

On the other hand, the Chausson Poeme is so uninteresting to me that I don't think I'd ever want to study it.

Edited: October 2, 2021, 1:16 PM · Andrew, since you just mentioned the possibility of transforming Beethoven VC into a piano version, I actually looked up and such arrangements exist.

This might be an even worse opinion as this is a violin forum... but I found myself actually liking the way Beethoven VC sounds now if the solo part is played by the piano.

Edited: October 3, 2021, 7:42 AM · Beethoven himself transcribed his VC into a piano concerto, apparently at the request of his publisher Clementi, who was worried by the poor reception the VC was getting - not helped by its near-disastrous first performance. The piano concerto transcription is catalogued as piano concerto no 6 op 61a. Here is a live and unedited performance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMzZq8CcjmY

I think it is a pity that Beethoven did not compose his Kreutzer sonata as a violin concerto, or even as a double concerto for violin and piano. Technically, the violin and piano parts of the sonata are well up in the soloist ranks, and for a solo violin concerto the piano part of the sonata could be the basis of the orchestral parts - in some respects, it is already orchestral in its approach. See this studio performance by Patricia Kopatchinskaja & Fazil Say, which demonstrates what I mean:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OF9fneQ50Us&t=130

October 2, 2021, 4:05 PM · Mavis, it wasn't a "possibility." I had heard it as a piano concerto (I think it is hidden within my iTunes library) and listened to as much of it as I could tolerate.

Speaking of the Kreutzer Sonata, I could not agree more with Trevor - but strangely enough one of the most compelling accounts of it I have heard was with the violin part played on the MARIMBA by a SF Symphony percussionist with his wife playing the piano part (on piano).

Edited: October 2, 2021, 6:59 PM · Got it. Unlike the piano arrangement of Brahms' VC by Dejan Lazic (which I don't like... it sounds zillion times better on a violin), I think the piano arrangement of Beethoven's VC sounds amazing.
October 2, 2021, 8:26 PM · I really like Robert Schumann’s arrangement of his cello concerto for the violin and orchestra. I think it works very well for the violin.
October 2, 2021, 9:13 PM · When I was in college (and grad school), I use to love listening to "bad" cheap recordings of major symphonies and concertos. Looking back, I only wish I could have sounded like those recordings.
Edited: October 2, 2021, 10:39 PM · I don't think I can be convinced to like the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. I've heard it live 8 times (I've heard no other violin concerto live more than three times), one of them from the viola section, and I've studied the score in detail. I still find it barely tolerable.
Edited: October 2, 2021, 10:48 PM · I think the Tchaikovsky is lovely-as I hinted at above, I learned to better appreciate it as an older musician.

What I do not do is go out of my way to listen to the Tchaikovsky at any concert hall, unless it is being performed by a few favorite violinists. It is programmed all too frequently, and by the usual, well known artists. The performances may indeed be great, but with finite resources, I rather enjoy another work live, and listen to the Tchaikovsky in one of the "thousands" of recordings available. I think it's just too popular-but really beautiful when played at a high artistic level.

Edited: October 3, 2021, 9:54 PM · I just went to see Karen Gomyo play the Tchaikovsky yesterday. While I really enjoyed her sound, I didn't hear a very cohesive rendering. I think the concerto, and Tchaikovsky in general, needs a lot of shaping and finessing to make it cohere, since Tchaikovsky often just restates themes, and piles melodies on melodies, without developing the themes that much, or having an underlying organization that is easy to intuit.

So when someone plays the Tchaikovsky concerto and doesn't really think about how to smooth transitions between all the little sections, and have a really particular plan for shaping the work, it ends up looking like a big quilt with all the seams showing. It's strange, but a good performance makes it seem like the most obvious and natural thing in the world, but a bad performance leaves me thinking, upon the 3rd or 4th restatement of some theme, "man, Tchaikovsky could really have used an editor".

The 4th symphony really grew on me despite having some of those same qualities, but I recall a totally electric and organic rendering a few years ago at the Colorado Music Festival (I imagine Mary Ellen was playing in that very concert) that totally blew me away. The conductor, Andrew Grams, shaped the symphony in such a way that I couldn't imagine what could be done to surpass it - Combined with William Wolfram playing Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto just exquisitely and Grams' very sensitive accompaniment, it's probably the best concert I have ever been to - I never figured I would say that about a program with a Tchaikovsky symphony.

Edited: October 3, 2021, 12:01 AM · I've never gone out of my way to hear any concerto -- I'm generally much more interested in symphonies than concerti. In fact, I've heard the Tchaikovsky concerto far more often than any other in spite of some efforts to avoid it!

I also dislike the majority of his other music, including every symphony except his 6th, for a lot of the same reasons as the violin concerto.

Edited: October 3, 2021, 3:53 AM · Ditto, except that I mostly listen to baroque, Prok and Bartok, just for the rhyme! On piano when I was young the big works were the limited number of concerti by Beethoven, Grieg, Rachmaninov and Tchaik, and it was way too easy to OD on those unless you were a big fan, so I haven't bothered very much with the violin equivalents, apart from Pag and Prok, and it's been a long time since I bothered with Pag. I asked a couple of years back for suggestions and bought CDs of a couple of dozen 'big' pieces, but I've only listened to them once each (The Bartok concerti passed me by, so I've just ordered Ehnes, including the viola one). Monty Python spoiled the Tchaik violin for me. I could post a Youtube link, but it's really not as funny now as it was when I was 12!
October 3, 2021, 5:03 AM · my answer is "no" :-)
October 3, 2021, 7:24 AM · “The 4th symphony really grew on me despite having some of those same qualities, but I recall a totally electric and organic rendering a few years ago at the Colorado Music Festival (I imagine Mary Ellen was playing in that very concert) that totally blew me away.“

I was. :-)

Edited: October 3, 2021, 8:02 AM · Mahler didn't compose a violin concerto (did he?), so I'm thankful it's not there to add to the list proposed by OP Jake.

Explanation: In years long gone by, for my sins, I played cello in three of Mahler's symphonies - and the memories still lurk.

Edited: October 3, 2021, 9:44 AM · Elise: Thank you for the kind words.

In the spirit of this discussion, here is something that in 2012 I posted on violinist.com. Hopefully, it will add something useful to this discussion:

----------

Posted on violinist.com, on September 3, 2012
(regarding the first movement of the Beethoven Violin Concerto)

The piece begins with 5 drumtaps.
Actually, I believe, those first 5 drumbeats are the breath
of life. Allow me to explain. Beats #1-4 parallel the inhaling
of an ordinary, everyday sigh, like the kind of shallow but
tension-relieving sigh we all take several times a day
without even noticing it. And there is a build-up of tension
on beats 1-4, just as there is when we inhale during a sigh.

On beat #5, we relax and exhale. And the tempo is exactly the
same as the everyday sigh. So, Beat #1 of one breath is
simultaneously beat #5 of the previous sigh. So we have a
constant juxtaposition of the beginning of an inhalation and
the relaxing exhalation - they overlap.

And this constant pattern is built into the orchestral part of
the orchestra's music. We're talking now just about
the orchestra part. It has 5-beat motifs everywhere,
like a giant jig-saw puzzle in sound.
Everything (even lengthened melodies and those
16-note figures) are all in beats of 5. Listen to the melodies;
each has its "resting points" on a 5th beat.

This is the micro-structure of the 1st movement. Beethoven
captured, I believe, in the orchestral part of that
first movement, the very breath of life. And since there
is always that juxtaposition going on of Beats 1 and 5
simultaneously, you never hear the piece exactly the same
way each time.

That, I believe, is the meaning of why he began with 5 drumtaps.

Even that loud passage where the orchestra bangs out those
5 notes, there's a measure of silence in between. Even the
silence is in a 5-beat motif. No?

OK, so don't believe me. But I think it's there, and it's one
of the things that makes this piece endlessly alive.

And what is the contrast between the solo violin and the
orchestra? It is, in one word, to listen to the violin part
as if it is an improvisation. And, remember, Beethoven was
famous for his ability to improvise. So, the solo violin
sometimes joins the 5-beat rhythm, and sometimes plays
passages in which there is no sense of beat. That's how the
violin as the solo instrument provides contrast.
The violin part is written as if it is an improvisation,
so listen to it that way.

My favorite recording? Zino Francescatti, Philadelphia
Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy (about 1950). Because, among
other things, they stick to that inner 5-beat pulse.
Francescatti's small pauses and rubato phrases are not
overdone and are just right. It's a great, great performance
among many great performances.

Edited: October 4, 2021, 5:55 AM · I really like all the "major works", but I agree with many of us that the finales are a bit of a let down. After a magnificent landscape in the first movement, a tender love song in the second, the finale brings us down to earth with a bump! At least we won't leave the concert hall in a transe and get run over by a bus..

However, since at 72yo I have nearly finished with my teenage angst, I can now appreciate the earthy vigour of most finales.

October 4, 2021, 11:47 AM · I really shouldn't be reading this thread because I get baffled and depressed when someone lists a piece I truly love as their most hated. There isn't much I dislike, maybe Berlioz Harold in Italy is the only thing that makes me rush to the radio to turn it off. I hope I haven't baffled and depressed some lover of that piece.
October 4, 2021, 1:09 PM · You have!
October 4, 2021, 1:15 PM · It's not a "major work" but "Jazz Legato" by Leroy Anderson is absolutely wretched.

The only piece we've listened to as a family that my wife and daughters have said they never want to hear again is "Hallelujah Junction" by John Adams, which I think is a marvelous piece.

October 4, 2021, 10:35 PM · Now we are getting somewhere!
I have -tremendous- respect for George Michael, but a pathological loathing of ‘last Christmas’ which is played in Japanese shops from around November 1st to the New Year.
Cheers,
Buri
October 4, 2021, 11:06 PM · I also can’t stand most Shostakovich symphonies. They sound like circus music to me.
October 4, 2021, 11:55 PM · Are they too in-tents for you?
Cheers,
Buri
October 5, 2021, 3:22 AM · I like Shost, but I bought the jazz suites recently and they were surprisingly bad except for the one well-known movement.
October 8, 2021, 8:36 AM · My parents weren't musicians, but they were classical music lovers. I grew up in a house where I was always encouraged to find something positive in every piece of music, no matter the genre or the composer. I never remember my parents "hating" any classical music. I learned that there was always something worth listening for, if you take the time to do it.

So, I grew up with the attitude that if there's something I'm not appreciating, it's because I'm not listening for what the composer was trying to express. This has opened my heart and mind to find what to appreciate in countless pieces of music I would have otherwise dismissed as boring or unattractive.

To me, each piece is like a person. Getting to "know" it is sometimes just as complex and challenging as getting to know a person.

Edited: October 8, 2021, 10:02 AM · Yesterday I listened briefly to the three Bartok concerti (two violin, one viola). I was disappointed by what seemed to me to be unnecessary violinistic clichés.
E.g. the rapid string crossing arpeggios - Mendelssohn did that. It didn't need to be done a second time. Rapid rising arpeggios and scales. It's all been done to death, and Bartok should have known better. I've had enough of what Pag did. Prok managed to avoid it all. I'll listen more closely to Bartok some other time.
October 8, 2021, 11:49 AM · If you make technical novelty the criterion for a concerto you'll have to dismiss a whole lot of concertos, in fact almost all of them, starting with Vivaldi a-minor!
October 8, 2021, 12:14 PM · 12 tones, 4 strings and 4 fingers - WTH do you want?

Give the poor composers a break!

October 8, 2021, 12:31 PM · Wait, Gordon, so Prokofiev doesn't use rapid rising arpeggios and scales? Maybe you're talking about the other Prokofiev...

Playing in front of the bridge? Pfft - Been done! All my homies play behind the bridge.

October 8, 2021, 12:37 PM · I'm sorry, but I just can't listen to Schumann's Violin Concerto in D minor.
October 8, 2021, 3:08 PM · For a long while I didn't like the Mendelssohn concerto - I always found it whiny. The last few years, however, I've got into it.

Also @Alexander, that's ok, hardly anyone does listen to Schumann's violin concerto ;)

October 8, 2021, 5:14 PM · On October 10, each finalist will perform either the Brahms or Schumann Violin Concerto with NDR Radiophilharmonie and conductor Andrew Manze,

Breaking news, finalists at the Joachim Competion will now e required to play Brahms or Go.

October 8, 2021, 8:28 PM · "I hope no one roasts me.

I do not like Beethoven's violin concerto at all"

Pity and understanding, no roast, although it is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.

People refer to pieces by name as if that's definitive. If it was, we might have stopped playing them centuries ago, and should do so now. Each performance is an opportunity for a new interpretation, and perhaps we just haven't heard an appealing one yet, or found ourselves in the appropriate context for it.

Beethoven's is a tough one to interpret and enjoy in some respects, and not something that I'd like to listen to every day or month, but it is a treasure.

And I find that I love a recording of it that many people, especially critics, really hate. So what? Maybe there's an interpretation of it that will work better for you some day. If not, obviously, de gustibus...

October 8, 2021, 8:33 PM · "that's ok, hardly anyone does listen to Schumann's violin concerto ;)"

Well it is was even suppressed by people close to him. I happen to love it, and am of course hardly anyone too.

October 8, 2021, 10:23 PM · I love the Schumann concerto, but I think it needs a really deliberate conception (And the Kulenkampff version where he transposes the violin into all kinds of different registers is just AWFUL - Every change he makes is for the worse). I think Szeryng's rendition with Dorati is just the ideal version, and Menuhin's ain't too bad either.
October 9, 2021, 12:43 AM · Schumann was quite an unique composer, misunderstood by even his famous friends, especially during those last years of his life. Joachim could have done better, but we cannot change history. Forget the "crazy Schumann" narrative, and enjoy his works as they are-wish Joachim and friends would have been more fair to him rather than "help/protect him" by suppressing his works.

Just recently read that it wasn't all that "bad" at the sanatorium, but isolating him from his beloved Clara-who so loved him-until almost the very end was a crime of ignorance at best.

Love his third violin sonata (1853), his full version of the F.A.E. without the other composers' contributions. Nothing in it is crazy. What is crazy is to adjudicate madness to everything he composed during his later years. Severely misunderstood even by Brahms and Joachim. Let us not make those same mistakes. We should know better at this day and age of supposedly less ignorance. One is free to not like this creative period for whatever reason-and some of it sounds "different"-but his ailment, whatever it was, should not be used as a convenient excuse to excoriate his late musical works. His works tended to be highly individual even before this horrible period in his life. Perhaps it was mere experimentation or an evolution of his style (combined, in the case of the violin compositions, with not enough input from other violinists such as Joachim, who likely dismissed the works.)

Not dissing Joachim-he probably liked Schumann and meant to help him... sadly.

Edited: October 9, 2021, 4:20 AM · To hate a work of art is harsh. To dislike one (somewhat privately, maybe) is, however, to exercise your right to develop your own interests and tastes. Schumann ('the wrong shoe'?) is a composer whose work calls for more effort than some others.

That said, I vigorously reject the work of Karl Orff. It's the back story of his politics, but also the braying vulgarity of so much of Carmina Burana.

I have been surprised by some of the responses to the Beethoven violin concerto. As a Beethoven-fixated teenage, I went through six-month episodes with many of the major works. The violin concerto's appeal was its 'innigkeit', a quality it shares with the 4th piano concerto.

October 9, 2021, 4:29 AM · ..and the Pastoral symphony, and the C major mass: four serene, radiant works.
October 9, 2021, 5:15 AM · The politics of artists is an interesting topic.
I know two Marxists. One won't go near anything by Richard Strauss or Karajan or Elizabeth Schwarzkopf or Wagner or anyone or anything even remotely related to them. The other Marxist couldn't care less and loves all of that.
October 9, 2021, 6:26 AM · Adrian - good additions, and I like your adjective choices.

Gordon - you have interesting friends! To stick with the composers rather than performers, I nearly mentioned Richard Strauss in my earlier post. He is a much more talented than Karl Orff, but his politics are also grimly worrying, even while I have never had the misfortune to live, as he did, under a brutal regime, and so am under-qualified to comment authoritatively. There are some works I like and make exceptions for: Four Last Songs and the Oboe Concerto. After 'Salomé' and 'Electra' a lot of his writing seems to be a kind of autumn-sunset wash, very skillful but overly general. His operas: I am prepared to attend ONE performance only of each, and I don't have CDs of them after putting 'Der Rosenkavalier' into plastic recycling. I had bought it carelessly and each subsequent effort to listen to it revolted me more and more.

Wagner is more difficult again, and vastly more talented than Ricky Strauss. I am still trying to figure my feelings out here, but I own CDs of almost all of the major operas, and attend performances.

October 9, 2021, 7:05 AM · I despise bigots, but Wagner's music is often beautiful. Definitely prefer Strauss as a violinist, but Tannhauser-which is likely "conservative Wagner" musically speaking and one he was apparently dissatisfied with-is utterly beguiling from beginning to end (I like the Dresden version more).

I believe that one does not become a bigot by listening to bigoted artists and/or composers' music. I will never defend their views, and will gladly expose them whenever possible. If I knew all the possible ethical and moral faults of all the composers I like, I may end up not liking much music-which is not saying that Wagner's (and others) bigotry was "minor", or the same as other offenses.

October 9, 2021, 7:09 AM · Yes, the problem with the first Marxist's attitude is, just how much do you have to research something before deciding if it is fit for your patronage or not?
Edited: October 12, 2021, 9:18 AM · I believe that your primary focus as a performing artist playing any given composition is not to use it as an excuse to express how you feel and impress an audience with your brilliance. Your primary focus is on sharing your perception of the composer's vision with your audience, and that should certainly include what that has touched within you. If you feel strongly negative about a composer's politics (which is certainly the case with some that have been mentioned) or other downsides, then don't choose to play anything by them.


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