Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

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vinteuil
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby vinteuil » Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:13 am

BKhon wrote:
KGill wrote:Not really, actually...many compositions from the Baroque era (much of Bach included) could be considered 'variations on the same theme' (as I believe I put it several years ago) to a certain extent, but that doesn't mean they're the 'same thing' necessarily, or that they're bad. In terms of sheer technical/contrapuntal ability, Bach was almost certainly the best ever. Not that that's the only criterion (he was among the best in several other things as well), but still. Have you ever tried to write music in the Baroque style? :) It's incredibly difficult even to get it to sound 'normal' (i.e., not like a total newbie, but still bland), and I can barely even imagine the sheer perfectionist genius that must go into a more 'advanced' style (such as Bach's).
Except that all of his pieces are variations of the same theme, or so it seems. I'm not really arguing against Bach's technical skill. In terms of contrapuntal writing, there is no doubt he was one of the bests ever. There is no doubt that Bach was a genius. Even so, I still believe he is extremely boring to listen to (for my personal taste). I greatly prefer Shostakovich, Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky, Khataturian, Villa-lobos, Prokofiev, Chopin, R. Strauss, etc.

No problem with preference—although I can hardly believe that anybody can find BWV 1049 boring.
BKhon wrote:Another few composers I think is overrated: Jean Sibelius, John Williams (come on... someone has to agree with that one), Listz, Bruckner, and Vivaldi.

I really want to say Borodin, but I find his melodies so beautiful that my analytical perspective on music becomes so scattered that I am rendered completely vulnerable to bad judgement. How can one argue with the pleasure of listening to his string quartets or Prince Igor?

Borodin's 2nd quartet tends to be underrated precisely because it is so attractive superficially. The first rambles a little, but is also very sweet.

Liszt: Yes, but it's a pity that he's overrated for the wrong things
Bruckner: Yes, but the 4th is fantastic
Vivaldi: Yes, but try listening to his contemporaries, and when you wake up, post. *ahem* Charles Rosen *ahem* has some useful comments on this point in Critical Entertainments
Sibelius: Sibelius is probably not underrated nor overrated. He has a lot of nonsense pieces (valse triste!), but the 4th and 7th, the violin concerto, the oceanides, Op. 22, and a few early pieces all merit status as brilliant works, especially the Seventh Symphony and the Oceanides.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby BKhon » Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:36 am

perlnerd666 wrote:
Sibelius: Sibelius is probably not underrated nor overrated. He has a lot of nonsense pieces (valse triste!), but the 4th and 7th, the violin concerto, the oceanides, Op. 22, and a few early pieces all merit status as brilliant works, especially the Seventh Symphony and the Oceanides.


I guess the violin concerto and Op.22 are OK. Maybe I'm a bit biased since I had the perform the violin concerto and had a terrible experience with the conductor :/ Likewise with respect to the Beethoven violin concerto, which I still can't stand. Although this is probably because I butchered the octaves at the beginning during performance... ahh! X-(

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby vinteuil » Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:46 am

BKhon wrote:
perlnerd666 wrote:
Sibelius: Sibelius is probably not underrated nor overrated. He has a lot of nonsense pieces (valse triste!), but the 4th and 7th, the violin concerto, the oceanides, Op. 22, and a few early pieces all merit status as brilliant works, especially the Seventh Symphony and the Oceanides.


I guess the violin concerto and Op.22 are OK. Maybe I'm a bit biased since I had the perform the violin concerto and had a terrible experience with the conductor :/ Likewise with respect to the Beethoven violin concerto, which I still can't stand. Although this is probably because I butchered the octaves at the beginning during performance... ahh! X-(

Congratulations on your technical achievement in being able to play the sibelius violin concerto...
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby Melodia » Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:44 am

BKhon wrote:As for the most overrated composer: Bach. I'm currently working on an article which will be one of the first articles ever written against Bach.


I highly, HIGHLY, doubt it'll be "one of the first ever".

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby pml » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:57 am

You’re not at all the first to rubbish Bach, if I only go so far as citing a friend who is a prolific blogger and has a blind spot about “intellect” in composition, and decries the formal aspects of Bach’s work. She wrote a piece equating Bach’s liking for lots of semiquavers as being without rhythm and akin to the speech of a Dalek (and she’ll have my guts for garters if she finds me ranting about it here), and in general dismissed the entire Bachian corpus as lacking inspiration, passion, and being of only cerebral interest to technicians, rather than true artists™.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby vinteuil » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:36 pm

pml wrote: Bach’s liking for lots of semiquavers

As opposed to demisemiquavers? :mrgreen:
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby BKhon » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:29 pm

Does anyone think Dvorak is overrated? Does anyone think William Walton and Lutoslawski are underrated? The Walton viola concerto and string quartet are actually quite ncie. Lutoslawski's cello concerto, among other pieces, are masterpieces. Too bad we can't upload them to IMSLP :|

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby sbeckmesser » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:14 am

BKhon wrote:Does anyone think Dvorak is overrated? Does anyone think William Walton and Lutoslawski are underrated? The Walton viola concerto and string quartet are actually quite ncie. Lutoslawski's cello concerto, among other pieces, are masterpieces. Too bad we can't upload them to IMSLP :|



While I don't think Dvorak is overrated, i do believe that the broad extent of his oeuvre is underappreciated, probably because most of it is never performed. The same goes for Smetana, with his smaller output.

I think Walton and Lutoslawski are also underperformed, especially in the USA. Their reputations here rest on a very few pieces. Walton's on Belshazzar's Feast, Facade, the coronation marches, Henry V film music, the first symphony and the concerti. In the orchestral realm. Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra is about the only piece you find by him being programmed anywhere in the world. This is hardly a firm foundation for assessing whether a composer is over- or underrated.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby Funper » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:44 pm

perlnerd666 wrote:Hmmm....Liszt is sticky.
That the composer of the Grand Galop Chromatique could have written the b minor sonata...


It's an enigma in the true sense of the word.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby kongming819 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:55 pm

pml wrote:You’re not at all the first to rubbish Bach, if I only go so far as citing a friend who is a prolific blogger and has a blind spot about “intellect” in composition, and decries the formal aspects of Bach’s work. She wrote a piece equating Bach’s liking for lots of semiquavers as being without rhythm and akin to the speech of a Dalek (and she’ll have my guts for garters if she finds me ranting about it here), and in general dismissed the entire Bachian corpus as lacking inspiration, passion, and being of only cerebral interest to technicians, rather than true artists™.


I find her Dalek reference humorous, though I think Bach's music is hardly suggestive of obnoxious grinding repetition. She probably hates modernity, amirite?

I too have a friend who doesn't like Bach, partially because of the lack of "inspiration" and "passion." De gustibus non disputandum...
Personally, I do find inspiration and passion (not just in the Passion har har har) in Bach's works, especially in some of his concerto middle movements.

His "cerebral interest to technicians" aspect was certainly inspired too, wasn't it? Isn't that what made him a cut better than the others (save Telemann?)

Haendel was reportedly INSPIRED to write, what a couple of my friends have called dramatically insipid, the Messiah oratorio. I guess perceptions of "inspiration" change over time, and some people fail to realize that.
But, I am of the opinion that Handel's Messiah should be added to the list of overrated/overused/overdone pieces in the classical repertoire.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby gardano » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:40 am

EDIT: changed the quote attribution. Sorry KGill!

KGill wrote:
BKhon wrote:I do believe KGill agrees those opinions.

Not really, actually...many compositions from the Baroque era (much of Bach included) could be considered 'variations on the same theme' (as I believe I put it several years ago) to a certain extent, but that doesn't mean they're the 'same thing' necessarily, or that they're bad. In terms of sheer technical/contrapuntal ability, Bach was almost certainly the best ever.


BKhon wrote:As for the most overrated composer: Bach. I'm currently working on an article which will be one of the first articles ever written against Bach. While Glenn Gould hatted Mozart, I must disagree with his opinions about Bach. IMAO (ha-ha-ha), if you take all of the works by Bach and condense them, taking away the superfluous chords, you would be left with fundamentally the same thing. I do believe KGill agrees those opinions.


Hey, try this. Listen to a bunch of, say, allemandes from different composers, and different performers too. Biber's Partia I from Harmonia artificioso-ariosa for a start. Listen to the Rare Fruit Council's take. Listen to Alarius Ensemble (long out of print, I'm afraid). THAT is how a great Allemande sounds. Now listen to, well, any horrible British performance of that piece. OK, now you have a grounding in how a German Allemande "goes". Now listen to Harpsichord Suites (either of the 2 surviving) by Marchand. Anything by Louis Couperin (especially played by Davitt Moroney). Gems one and all.

Now listen to mediocre ones. Perhaps Johann Jacob Walther from Hortus Chelicus.

So, now having listened to really nice Suites (and some rather boring ones), go back to listening to, say, a French Suite by Bach. What was missing for you was context. If you couldn't make it through this exercise, it's not Bach you find boring, but Baroque (or perhaps, pre-romantic?) music. Listening to Bach within the context of his contemporaries does not lessen the achievements of those contemporaries -- it elevates what Bach managed to do! The subtlety and mastery of his counterpoint is awe-inspiring to behold, for sure, but the way his dance movements *dance* is delightful as well.

I chose Allemandes as examples because I wanted to point out that, just as with any Baroque dance movement, and Allemande "goes" a certain way. (Well, I also chose allemande as a starting point because I love that dance type so much). It's a "walking" type of movement. To me, it's "walking" in the sense of "taking a leisurely walk and smelling the roses". Not trying to *go* or *arrive* anywhere other than the next beautiful or interesting or introvertedly emotional place. In general, no bombast or flashing lights. Not boring, but rather quietly sweet and fulfilling.

I get the feeling that people who proudly proclaim Bach to be boring are like people who eat too much spicy Chinese food for too long and then complain that boeuf bourguignon has no taste. Take a vacation from the shiny doodads for a while and [re]-learn to appreciate music again!
Last edited by gardano on Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby KGill » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:03 pm

Gardano, you're replying to my comment, but where did I say Bach was boring or inferior to others? :? I may not prefer to listen to Baroque music, but that's not because I find it uninteresting, it's simply a matter of preference...

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby Peterdyson49 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:26 pm

Bach...... When I was young my father told me not to worry and that I would appreciate Bach when I was an old man. So I think I must be reaching the end of middle age (certainly if we go by male life expectancy in Russia)!
So no ageism intended... I never ceased to be amazed at the vast quantity of music to be discovered out there that is worth a listen.... especially when it is performed live... and thank heaven people drag me off to concerts I would not have thought of going to.
What a good job we all have passions for different things.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby NLewis » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:56 am

Well, I think Bach is a very interesting case. A name that makes composers tremble, makes performers fall to their knees, and bores everyone else. I think that a majority of the dislike for Bach comes from the fact that it's not very easy music to know, and liking means knowing. He does, however, have incredible chorals - the paramount of voice leading -, powerful organ music, charming flute music, singing warmth of certain melodies (air on the G string comes to mind), and incredible command over fugues (art of fugue).

A majority of Bach's music however, seems more like motion than emotion. And I think the lack of emotion in many of the works is a major problem for musicians failing to see the brilliance of Bach. I think another reason is because it's not immediately dramatic, and therefore becomes monotonous. We've been so spoiled by the dramaticism of Shostakovich, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and other music written after Bach, that we've come to expect drama in one sort or another in music. Well, what makes "drama"? In a simple word, contrast. The contrast between two emotions in a piece of music, masculinity vs. feminineness, good against evil, joy and grief etc, that create a sort of pull and strain. Well, in Bach's time, this principal of duality was not entirely developed. Bach had more of the view "one thing at a time". Masculinity or feminineness. Joy or grief.

We must come to the realization and appreciation for having one thing at a time ;)

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby pjones235 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:17 pm

Fame doesn't matter... Most of today's famous musicians aren't good, they're just famous. Bach is famous because he was a genius..


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