Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby ZacPB189 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:17 pm

Lyle Neff wrote:"played most often" means "overdone."

Not just Mahler No. 1, but also Schubert's "Great," Stravinsky's Firebird, Petrushka, and Rite of Spring, Orff's Carmina Burana, and Mozart's/Verdi's/Faure's Requiems. :mrgreen:


That's true. I wish there were more recordings and performances of Orff's other works, such as Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby madcapellan » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:09 am

dwil9798 wrote:In my opinion, Mahler's First is the least refined (bare with me on that one) and least interesting/most boring of all his symphonies.


I'd normally say I assume you've never listened to his Eighth, but you probably have and like it better than the First. The 55-minute second movement is the most ridiculous thing he ever wrote. I know it's basically an opera act, but I can't believe how long it drags every time I listen to it (which isn't often). The first movement fares much better, but it isn't consistent enough throughout (even though it includes the Schindler's List theme that Williams "borrowed"). All four of Mahler's middle period symphonies are long, drawn out, and far less effective than those in his other two periods. The Fifth especially remains popular for some reason (probably because of the number), and the Eighth was inexplicably Mahler's greatest public success. Ironic, of course, because the Eighth is easily his worst symphony, with the 55 minutes of yuck that is the second movement the prime reason for it.

It's clear that Mahler's personal style wasn't as developed in the First as it would be with later symphonies (it would've seemed more like a typical Mahler symphony if he kept the Blumine movement, but it doesn't make the work a better piece). But it's also clear that his First is one of his best symphonies. All four movements are strong and memorable, even though he heavily looted his Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen for a lot of the melodic material. Quotation would play a far bigger role in classical music from then on (Ives, "P.D.Q. Bach", and Shostakovich somewhat). Every moment from the opening harmonics to the final excuse-me ending (terrible and great at the same time) is perfect. It might be the least Mahler-like of his symphonies, but he never bettered it.

Of course, it's accessibility is the likely reason it's programmed more often than the others (it's also the shortest, generally), and not because anyone agrees with me about the stature of it in his oeuvre. Although the truth is that programming a Mahler symphony is still a difficult task for many orchestras (not most professional ones, obviously). All of his symphonies outside of 1 & 4 last over an hour, with most in the 1:20-1:40 range. Each symphony is a concert in itself, which doesn't fit with the normal concept of a concert with an intermission between two halves (not that they should). Like Bruckner, you really have to be in the mood to listen to something that long, which makes them difficult even though they're all rather tonal (compare what Mahler was doing in the first decade of the 20th century to Schoenberg and Berg, for instance). Unfortunately, the sad truth is that audiences aren't adventurous and don't want to be challenged. I don't think that the bulk of Mahler's work really repays the effort it takes to listen to them, but there's no question that especially the later period symphonies should be heard more than they are.

On the whole, I'd say Mahler is rather overrated among composers, but that he still generally wrote good music much of the time (his orchestral songs especially are probably the best of their genre). It's better to say that Mahler as a whole was influential, rather than any single specific piece he wrote. I suppose that's indicative that the least typical of his symphonies (1 & 4) are his best.

Mahler's certainly got nothing on Brahms though, whose popularity continues to mystify me to this day. Although at least he was clearly a talented composer. I still don't know why Schumann or Wolf are famous. Especially Schumann, who everyone says was a terrible orchestrator, and who has nary a piece that I would consider repertoire-worthy. But yet he'll still get plenty of mentions on this board. I guess if you like bland Romantic-style music, he's your guy. I expect he'll get many defenders here, and we'll have to agree to disagree. If you really think Schumann was a great composer, it's obvious that we're looking for different things in classical music.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby allegroamabile » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:39 pm

madcapellan wrote:it's obvious that we're looking for different things in classical music.


What things are you looking for in classical music?
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby sbeckmesser » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:13 am

madcapellan wrote:
dwil9798 wrote: If you really think Schumann was a great composer, it's obvious that we're looking for different things in classical music.


Wow, in one posting a trashing of Mahler, Brahms, Schumann and Wolf. And on top of this we got an over-valuation of Mahler's weakest and most derivative Symphony, original though parts of it may be, and an undervaluation of the "middle" symphonies, which are admittedly difficult, but which remain extraordinarily original masterpieces that stand quite far above almost all the other symphonies from Mahler's era (the big exceptions being Dvorak, Bruckner and Tchaikovsky's last symphonies, the first four of Sibelius, and both of Elgar's). There's a reason posterity has called all these composers geniuses. And, thank goodness, it will continue to do so, even in the face of listeners who fail to appreciate their greatest achievements.

--Sixtus

PS: I myself had trouble with Mahler's middle symphonies (Nos. 5-7), especially with certain movements like the Scherzo of 5, the unrelenting last movement of 6, and the finale of 7 (being a fan of Goethe's Faust, I've never had difficulties with 8I). But these were unfavorable impressions formed only by listening to recordings. Once I started hearing these works in person performed by great orchestras under great conductors, I began to like them as much as my other favorite Mahler scores (Syms 3, 4, 8, 9 and Das Lied von der Erde, which I consider his greatest work). With recordings you completely miss the sense of theater of a live performance and let's not forget that Mahler was a man of the (operatic) theater. Like seeing an opera you know only by recordings live on stage, when you hear them in a live concert -- the "theater" for which Mahler's symphonies were written -- it can be a revelation to sense what he was up to in these three works.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby madcapellan » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:09 pm

sbeckmesser wrote:There's a reason posterity has called all these composers geniuses.


Posterity considers Schumann a terrible orchestrator. I didn't make that one up. A "genius" would probably not have difficulties orchestrating bland works, and a "genius" wouldn't ruin his performing career by "exercising" his fingers with machines that destroyed them instead. I guess in your rose-colored world, every composer you've ever heard of is a genius. But if you really believe Schumann was a genius, you must have an IQ of about 2, because Schumann's couldn't have been much higher with the stupid stuff he did in his life.

And I notice how you focused on Mahler, sidestepping the fact that both Schumann and Wolf never wrote a repertory-worthy piece. This is especially true of Wolf, of whom only a few songs are played with any regularity, and certainly nothing for orchestra.

And it's also funny how you tossed out the word "derivative", failing to mention that Mahler borrowed from himself, not other people, which is what the word is usually reserved for. And you also fail to mention that this self-quotation was actually rather innovative for its time. You won't see the word "innovative" anywhere near Schumann or Wolf.

Audiences of classical music have notoriously been unable to follow composers into the 20th century, and thus works from the 19th century constantly dominate programs to this very day, while contemporary composers have extreme difficulties in getting their works performed (outside of the top few, of course, but even they write for chamber ensembles more often than not now). Audiences are not infallible, as you seem to suggest. Which is what I said before. A lot of people apparently only listening to classical music for something soothing and extremely undifficult. Something they can rely on that won't challenge them at all. Which I guess is fine if that's really what you want.

I understand why Brahms and Mahler are still famous. They were great composers, who for various reasons didn't often write great music (especially true of Brahms). But as far as I can tell, Schumann and Wolf are only still famous for their lieder, which aren't all that great either. Schumann is considered a terrible orchestrator, and Wolf as zero orchestral pieces played on any program ever. I do not know why either of these guys are still famous. They don't really deserve to be based on the low quality of their work, but I guess they fit into the style enough that no one notices.

The Sibelius, Elgar, and Mahler symphonies you mentioned are not great works. Not a one of them. I have given them a chance time and time again (especially the Mahler), but they're just not as consistent or near as good as other symphonies out there (there's no comparison if you look at the top Beethoven, Shostakovich, and even the late Dvorak ones). Sibelius is too gimmicky (and too Brahmsian), Elgar is a stodgy Englishman, and Mahler got too big and out of control in the middle period. They all have their merits, but your all-knowing audience won't see any of these pieces on programs as much as the ones I mentioned (with Shostakovich making strides in recent years). You can make up reasons and justifications, but it won't change the truth.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby perlnerd666 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:47 am

madcapellan wrote:
sbeckmesser wrote:There's a reason posterity has called all these composers geniuses.


Posterity considers Schumann a terrible orchestrator. I didn't make that one up. A "genius" would probably not have difficulties orchestrating bland works, and a "genius" wouldn't ruin his performing career by "exercising" his fingers with machines that destroyed them instead. I guess in your rose-colored world, every composer you've ever heard of is a genius. But if you really believe Schumann was a genius, you must have an IQ of about 2, because Schumann's couldn't have been much higher with the stupid stuff he did in his life.

OK, first, please don't take that kind of tone. I, who happen to know a great many composers who I think are not geniuses (starting with Mahler) at least will call Schumann a genius.

If we dismiss Schumann because of his silly mechanical contrivance, one could easily dismiss Van Gogh for cutting off his ear, or even Django Reinhardt for knocking over a candle in a highly flammable area.

I myself believe in the heaviness of Schumann's orchestration (note my comments on the French forum), although Gardiner seems to think that it's underrated. However, if we dismiss all composers who couldn't orchestrate (Fauré comes to mind) and then judge them solely on their orchestral works, we are using not much more than 2 IQ points; one does not judge a politician by his poetry, and similarly we do not judge a composer like Schumann whose piano works and lieder are the very best in their media based on his orchestral works—although I admit that I have a weakness for Genoveva.
madcapellan wrote:And I notice how you focused on Mahler, sidestepping the fact that both Schumann and Wolf never wrote a repertory-worthy piece. This is especially true of Wolf, of whom only a few songs are played with any regularity, and certainly nothing for orchestra.
c.f. above. Do you really only care about orchestral music?????? And Wolf, while perhaps a second-rate composer, has quite a few more than "a few" songs in the repertoire...attend Lieder recitals and you shall find...
madcapellan wrote:And it's also funny how you tossed out the word "derivative", failing to mention that Mahler borrowed from himself, not other people, which is what the word is usually reserved for. And you also fail to mention that this self-quotation was actually rather innovative for its time. You won't see the word "innovative" anywhere near Schumann or Wolf.

You started out good, but the second half is plain wrong. Self-quotation is a tradition dating back as far as musical history can remember (lest we forget the looseness of Rossini and Bach in this respect). And innovative is one of the words that will indeed be seen next to Schumann (read any good text on romantic music), and Wolf was at the forefront of the German avant-garde; his fusion of text and music, Mussorgsky-like, was something that he took further even than Wagner.
Again, you judge Schumann on his conservative orchestral works and show your narrow-mindedness.
madcapellan wrote:Audiences of classical music have notoriously been unable to follow composers into the 20th century, and thus works from the 19th century constantly dominate programs to this very day, while contemporary composers have extreme difficulties in getting their works performed (outside of the top few, of course, but even they write for chamber ensembles more often than not now). Audiences are not infallible, as you seem to suggest. Which is what I said before. A lot of people apparently only listening to classical music for something soothing and extremely undifficult. Something they can rely on that won't challenge them at all.

That is very true. What's worse is when a good conductor like Alan Gilbert patronizes his audiences when he plays the Webern Op. 21 (which is hardly a difficult piece anymore). Then again, Jascha Heifetz compared Bach to spinach (in a bad way) when "serving" it to soldiers...
madcapellan wrote:I understand why Brahms and Mahler are still famous. They were great composers, who for various reasons didn't often write great music (especially true of Brahms). But as far as I can tell, Schumann and Wolf are only still famous for their lieder, which aren't all that great either. Schumann is considered a terrible orchestrator, and Wolf as zero orchestral pieces played on any program ever. I do not know why either of these guys are still famous. They don't really deserve to be based on the low quality of their work, but I guess they fit into the style enough that no one notices.
.
Brahms is a genius (Listen to his Lieder especially), but he is certainly not "innovative" and frankly Mahler isn't anywhere close in most cases—look at Skrjabin, Bartók, Stravinsky, Ives, Schoenberg, and others and he seems dead conservative (even Debussy looks more forward!). While Wolf was certainly a specialist in Songs, no pianist does not play Arabeske or Carnaval; frankly one could deride Mahler as being known only for a couple of symphonies and song cycles which aren't that good either. He has zilch in the chamber music, piano, solo, dramatic, or choral repertoire. I do not know why he is still famous. He doesn't really deserve to be called a genius, based on the tastelesness of his work; but I guess that he is popular with audiences who like that which is soothing and extremely undifficult. Something they can rely on that won't challenge them at all.
madcapellan wrote:The Sibelius, Elgar, and Mahler symphonies you mentioned are not great works. Not a one of them. I have given them a chance time and time again (especially the Mahler), but they're just not as consistent or near as good as other symphonies out there (there's no comparison if you look at the top Beethoven, Shostakovich, and even the late Dvorak ones). Sibelius is too gimmicky (and too Brahmsian), Elgar is a stodgy Englishman, and Mahler got too big and out of control in the middle period. They all have their merits, but your all-knowing audience won't see any of these pieces on programs as much as the ones I mentioned (with Shostakovich making strides in recent years). You can make up reasons and justifications, but it won't change the truth.

Well, let's start with Sibelius 4....(gimmicky? Give me a break).

So:

You cannot deride Schumann for being derivative; his innovations in lieder (piano prelude and postlude, form, harmonies, treatment of text), piano music (piano-cycles of character pieces, treatment of stylized dances), and harmony are so well-documented that you are frankly sounding a bit uneducated—IMSLP has all of the scores; try playing some of the piano music through sometime.

Wolf may be tasteless at his worst, and even at his best, but if we ignore Feurreiter, then we find that his best songs are at least as good as any of Schubert's, and certainly better than Klagende Lied
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby Melodia » Fri Sep 24, 2010 5:54 am

...Schumann only famous for lieder? WHAT?

I mean, did I enter a parallel universe or something?
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby sbeckmesser » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:20 am

madcapellan wrote: Posterity considers Schumann a terrible orchestrator.


Let's dispose of this old canard, on which much of your argumentation seems to be based. Posterity, it turns out, does not consider Schumann a terrible orchestrator. He was not considered a terrible orchestrator when his works were premiered. And the revisions he made in his orchestral works (see the critical reports to Linda Roesner's Eulenburg critical editions of the Symphonies) seem mostly to be of accents and other details that, when performed to audible effect, will do much to clarify his orchestral textures. But what Schumann did in his recasting of his "4th" Symphony also shows that this density of the middle and lower voices was something he wanted. It isn't there by accident or incompetence. And this sound quality was picked up, for better or worse, by others later in the century (Brahms and Bruckner just to name a couple). It's definitely a Germanic sound, compared to, say, French or Russian orchestration.

And it turns out that if you perform the myriad of Schumann's phrasing and dynamic details with an orchestra of appropriate size (Mendelssohn's Gewandhaus orchestra would now be considered a large chamber orchestra) in an acoustically appropriate venue (a shoebox-shaped concert hall holding no more than around 1200), and with the orchestra deployed on stage in a historically appropriate manner (e.g. split 1st and 2nd violins), the textures thought by "posterity" to be the result of "terrible orchestration" open up. They are still congealed, compared to those Berlioz or Mendelssohn, but not to the point that reorchestration is necessary.

The "posterity" that considered Schumann a terrible orchestrator basically originated with the great composer-conductors of the turn of the last century, two of the chief culprits being Mahler and Weingartner, and ended with the deaths of their disciples. You can gauge the sound that Weingartner was seeking out of these works by reading his suggestions for their reorchestration. They speak of an early 20th century, post-Wagnerian conception of orchestral sound, not a mid-19th century post-Beethoven/Weber conception. You can hear Weingartner/Mahler-style reorchestration of Schumann symphonies in commercial recordings as late as those by Klemperer and Szell and Riccardo Chailly has recently recorded Mahler's rescorings of the Symphonies, ironically with the same Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra that gave the world premiers of Syms 1, 2 and the first version of 4. But by the turn of this century, successful performances and recordings by conductors under the influence of the historical performance movement together with new critical editions of the scores (Eulenburg and Breitkopf) have prompted a reevaluation upward of Schumann's orchestration. Have a listen to the recordings by Florian Merz, John Eliot Gardiner and Douglas Bostock (who lead the first recording of the Breitkopf urtext scores). While Schumann's orchestration is not great, it is neither "incompetent" or "terrible." It, like Chopin's similarly maligned orchestrations of his piano concertos, is "apt" for the material it is conveying -- you hear what you need to hear.

--Sixtus

PS: People with supposed IQs of 2 don't usually get into Ivy League universities nor do they graduate with a Magna cum laude in Music, as I did. Much of my studies centered on 19th- and early 20th-century orchestral performance practice, including conducting style. I put these facts forward as independently verifiable evidence that at least my IQ is 3 or greater.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby Melodia » Sat Sep 25, 2010 7:54 pm

Personally I find Schumann's transitions (especially in the 1st symphony) more odd then the orchestrations, which may not be Berlioz, but they work just fine.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby perlnerd666 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:18 pm

Again, Gardiner really does seem to think that Schumann is a good orchestrator.

I would put forward that Brahms is a better orchestrator; also heavy and thick in the middle, but his treatment of the winds is wonderful.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby BKhon » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:19 pm

perlnerd666 wrote:
madcapellan wrote:
sbeckmesser wrote:There's a reason posterity has called all these composers geniuses.


Posterity considers Schumann a terrible orchestrator. I didn't make that one up. A "genius" would probably not have difficulties orchestrating bland works, and a "genius" wouldn't ruin his performing career by "exercising" his fingers with machines that destroyed them instead. I guess in your rose-colored world, every composer you've ever heard of is a genius. But if you really believe Schumann was a genius, you must have an IQ of about 2, because Schumann's couldn't have been much higher with the stupid stuff he did in his life.

OK, first, please don't take that kind of tone. I, who happen to know a great many composers who I think are not geniuses (starting with Mahler) at least will call Schumann a genius.

If we dismiss Schumann because of his silly mechanical contrivance, one could easily dismiss Van Gogh for cutting off his ear, or even Django Reinhardt for knocking over a candle in a highly flammable area.

Wolf may be tasteless at his worst, and even at his best, but if we ignore Feurreiter, then we find that his best songs are at least as good as any of Schubert's, and certainly better than Klagende Lied



First: A lot of geniuses were mentally unstable... in fact, recent estimates project that 21% of all creative geniuses suffer from a whole array of mental disorders (like bipolar, schizophrenia, etc). IMHO, a genius is any creative field is eccentric. As Perlnerd666 pointed out: Van Gogh cut off his ear.

A perfect example of this "insanity" can be found in the genius of Hugo Wolf:

"Hugo Wolf, a German eccentric, was most well known for his art songs. Hugo Wolf’s life was one of melancholy and despair. Although a musical prodigy in various instruments, including piano and violin, his severe depression, mood swings, and contumacious nature prevented him from completing any enrollment in music schools. As a composer, he was influenced by Richard Wagner’s music; and although Wolf did not complete any large scale works, his musical style is still reminiscent of Wagner. With a great passion for poetry, he decided to set the words to music, often times using poems already set to music by other composers, as he felt the music did not do the poem justice. At the height of his song writing career, he suffered from mental deterioration, which was a byproduct of syphilis. This eventually caused him to stop composing all together. At the height of his instability, he attempted to drown himself, before seeking refuge in an insane asylum. He died there, with his mind decayed."

~ This is an article from the IMSLP, which I am quoting.



In my opinion, the most under-rated composer is Villa-lobos. He was an absolute "genius", and composed some of the greatest works ever. Listen to choros No.8 and sexteto mistico. Unfortunately, the score is blocked on IMSLP for both, since it's under copyright in the US and EU.

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

Postby perlnerd666 » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:55 pm

BKhon wrote:In my opinion, the most under-rated composer is Villa-lobos. He was an absolute "genius", and composed some of the greatest works ever. Listen to choros No.8 and sexteto mistico. Unfortunately, the score is blocked on IMSLP for both, since it's under copyright in the US and EU.

Wow, this is interesting. Villa-lobos tends to be mostly built on energy. There isn't much substance there, although those two happen to be absolutely brilliant, yes.
I might nominate Fauré.
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.

Wow, this is interesting. I'm curious—what do you mean by "superfluous?" If you take away all the chords in anything, you get...Schenker...
Well, I have to disagree. You can take the Cantata BWVs 105 and 106 (I just listened to them, obviously, so they're on my mind) and compare them to the Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue, and start to see that you do not get the same thing at all.
Telemann, perhaps, and much worse so the lesser composers of the Baroque and Classical periods—sorry Abel, sorry Veracini, sorry especially to people like Riciotti.
Bach is music, obviously. But the point of Bach is that no matter whether the work is a public work—an organ prelude and fugue or a cantata—or a private work—the 6 partitas—is that there is an incredible amount of contrapuntal, textural, and harmonic invention, along with perfect smooth voice-leading. The point of Bach goes beyond contrapuntal artifice—just listen to Missa Prolationum for that—or any sort of "perfect" pretensions. The point of Bach is that he achieved the best possible synthesis of styles and techniques to generate a body of works that lacks imperfections.
I can name a bad work of almost any other composer (exceptions: corelli, bartók (except maybe some very very early music unearthed recently), victoria, brahms). Not Bach—maybe boring, maybe "standard"—never bad.
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby KGill » Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:39 am

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. 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).
perlnerd666 wrote:Wow, this is interesting. Villa-lobos tends to be mostly built on energy. There isn't much substance there

All right, everyone who knows me could foresee a certain disagreement with that statement, but in all fairness, you are passing an extremely harsh judgment here. The most balanced thing one can say about Villa-Lobos is that he was uneven. His works do contain a certain irrepressible energy, possibly because most are essentially 'first drafts', written without too much thought towards revision. While he certainly produced a goodly crop of mediocre works this way, his serious achievements are all the more astounding for it. Firstly, he was almost certainly one of the greatest orchestrators of all time (possibly the greatest) - Amazonas and Choros 8 are good demonstrations of this. The gigantic ensembles are handled with a variety and richness of texture rivaled only by the likes of Richard Strauss; hugely different timbres mix and mingle freely (although the result is frequently equivalent or superior to a carefully controlled orchestration), producing an extremely distinctive sound. In this way, he is definitely an important predecessor to Messiaen. Orchestration aside, saying that there "isn't much substance" in his music seems an amazingly narrow view once you've heard his 17 string quartets (easily one of the three best sets of the 20th century, along with Shostakovich's and Bartok's), plus the better examples among his myriad piano works (Cirandas, Prole do bebe Nos.1 and 2, Rudepoema, and so forth), several of his other symphonic poems (and a few of the symphonies), and also some of the art songs (which, incidentally, probably make up the majority of his output). Most or all of these works contain a great deal of substance, by almost any definition I can imagine. He did have an especial talent for the control and release of energy, but that is far from the only redeeming quality of his works.
All that being said, my candidates for 'greatest ever' remain Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Varese, Revueltas, Bartok, and maybe Berio (even if Villa-Lobos is my personal obsession)...
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Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby BKhon » Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:02 am

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.

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?
BKhon
 

Re: Overrated, Overused, Overdone, underrated etc.

Postby perlnerd666 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:07 am

KGill wrote:
perlnerd666 wrote:Wow, this is interesting. Villa-lobos tends to be mostly built on energy. There isn't much substance there
Orchestration aside, saying that there "isn't much substance" in his music seems an amazingly narrow view once you've heard his 17 string quartets (easily one of the three best sets of the 20th century, along with Shostakovich's and Bartok's), plus the better examples among his myriad piano works (Cirandas, Prole do bebe Nos.1 and 2, Rudepoema, and so forth), several of his other symphonic poems (and a few of the symphonies), and also some of the art songs (which, incidentally, probably make up the majority of his output). Most or all of these works contain a great deal of substance, by almost any definition I can imagine. He did have an especial talent for the control and release of energy, but that is far from the only redeeming quality of his works.
All that being said, my candidates for 'greatest ever' remain Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Varese, Revueltas, Bartok, and maybe Berio (even if Villa-Lobos is my personal obsession)...

Sorry for expressing such a view (I do agree with you about coros 8!). I suppose I haven't listened to him enough ;).

Although anyone who knows me on this forum is going to anticipate my response to that SQ question...Carter...(Maconchy, Tippett, Britten, Babbitt, Nancarrow and others also come to mind).

Interestingly, art songs make up a majority of composers' outputs from Webern to Brahms, and yet only certain composers are really known for them. It's a very strange situation.



But going back to underrated, I wouldn't call him as such. He may be under-played, but a composer like Saint-Saëns ("greatest of the minor composers" :evil:) or even Franck, who despite his myriad flaws, is on many people's "do not listen" lists—actively, not passively. I note my consideration of mainly french composers.
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