Felix Mendelssohn - Why doesn't he move me? - How about you?

val
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Post by val » Sat Mar 18, 2006 6:52 am

Really? I never noticed that, although Chopin's boldness is unmistakable. What Schumann piano works exemplify his inventiveness that you can recommend?

I am only familiar with the basics such as Kinderszenen, Carnaval, Album for the Young, the Concerto, etc. all of which I find incredibly charming. But none of them strike me as very groundbreaking (I can't put myself in early 19th century shoes)

Try the Humoresque, the first sonata (in special the first movement), the Novelettes (in special the 2nd and 8th), the Kreisleriana and the first piano Trio opus 63.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:15 am

greymouse wrote:
Schumann has, in fact, been accused of "destroying rhythm".
Really? I never noticed that, although Chopin's boldness is unmistakable. What Schumann piano works exemplify his inventiveness that you can recommend?

I am only familiar with the basics such as Kinderszenen, Carnaval, Album for the Young, the Concerto, etc. all of which I find incredibly charming. But none of them strike me as very groundbreaking (I can't put myself in early 19th century shoes). Thanks.
It is the sign of real genius when works don't at first appear as difficult, original or powerful as they are. Along with Val's suggestions I would add "Davidsbündlertänze", op. 6; "Fanatasie in C", op. 17; both the violin sonatas (opp. 105 and 121). Also, all late chamber works show an ever-developing and changing Schumann.

I'm not sure, but I think it was Roland Barthes who first commented on Schumann's penchant to "destroying rhythm". Just listen to those syncopations (e.g., First Trio, op. 63: 2nd mvt, Scherzo "suffers from a rush of too many dots to the head" said one critic(!!) and in many other works.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:42 am

val wrote: Try the Humoresque, the first sonata (in special the first movement), the Novelettes (in special the 2nd and 8th), the Kreisleriana and the first piano Trio opus 63.
Oh-oh, I'm slipping. I totally forgot the Symphonic Etudes, opus 13---the most important set of keyboard variations since Bach's "Goldberg Variations" (not MY opinion!).

They'll take some getting use to, but these strike a powerful, intense and totally original chord (pun intended).

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

greymouse
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Post by greymouse » Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:31 am

Thanks Jack and val. I will definitely get some recordings soon and expand my horizons!

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Post by karlhenning » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:20 pm

Well, last night I revisited the Opus 61 incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was charmed no end.
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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:08 am

karlhenning wrote:Well, last night I revisited the Opus 61 incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was charmed no end.
You're right, Karl. This is one of those absolutely immortal works of Mendelssohn which will always remain in everyone's heart and repertoire.

And thanks for getting us back to Mendelssohn - 'got a bit carried away with Schumann's piano music again.

Best,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

DavidRoss
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Post by DavidRoss » Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:44 am

Frank--I feel the same way you do about Mendelssohn. I enjoy his music when I hear it, especially the octet, the 3rd & 4th symphonies, and the violin cto, but it just doesn't grab me and move me like a lot of music by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, or a dozen or more 20th Century composers. Mendelssohn's hardly the only revered composer I respond to so tepidly; I feel the same way about Schubert and Schumann. Not until Brahms do I find another 19th C. German-speaker who excites my passion and kindles my imagination like Beethoven. Unlike their French, Russian, and Italian counterparts, the German Romantics mostly provoke little more than polite interest.

Note to fans of the German Romantics: Please don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm not saying they're bad or that those who love them are bad. I'm saying only that their music generally doesn't move me as strongly or as deeply as that of other composers whom I prefer. Some people like peanut butter cookies; I prefer chocolate chips.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

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karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:20 am

Wallingford wrote:Sir Thomas Beecham--who conducted St-Saens' music frequently--did not mean it as an insult when he said that "Saint-Saens was the greatest writer of second-rate music who ever lived."
And yet, it seems at best a backhanded compliment :-)
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DavidRoss
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Post by DavidRoss » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:33 am

karlhenning wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Sir Thomas Beecham--who conducted St-Saens' music frequently--did not mean it as an insult when he said that "Saint-Saens was the greatest writer of second-rate music who ever lived."
And yet, it seems at best a backhanded compliment :-)
Unless, like me, he uses the term "second-rate" to refer to things of such high quality that few are better, like a second-growth Bordeaux. :wink:
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:55 am

DavidRoss wrote:Mendelssohn's hardly the only revered composer I respond to so tepidly; I feel the same way about Schubert and Schumann. Not until Brahms do I find another 19th C. German-speaker who excites my passion and kindles my imagination like Beethoven. Unlike their French, Russian, and Italian counterparts, the German Romantics mostly provoke little more than polite interest.
It depends on how deeply one wishes to go into their music, which shows considerably more depth than Rossini, Gounod or Borodin.

Certainly the "red-hot" revolutionary Romantics, Schumann and Wagner, are not everyone's taste---and some like only one or the other. By comparison, Schubert and Mendelssohn are often a bit "tepid". But I find quite a lot of Brahms a bit tepid, too (e.g., the Double Concerto, certain chamber works).

For those who perfer Italian or French opera to the German Romantics there is no argument in matters of taste. But at least two of these Romantics have an emtoional range in the neighborhood of a Handel, Mozart or Beethoven.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

SamLowry
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Experience Italian!

Post by SamLowry » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:14 pm

I couldn't resist pasting in this quote. (Hey, I almost don't own a single Mendelssohn recording, shame on me!)

- - - - - - -

Regarding the Italian Symphony:

"My friends, if you can find someone who doesn't like this symphony, you have found someone for whom joy, beauty, song, and dance are meaningless! Someone who can neither enjoy nor deserves the Italian experience which is at its essence what Mendelssohn's 4th is all about."
- Robert Greenberg

DavidRoss
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Why Mendelssohn doesn't move us...?

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:44 pm

Perhaps for the same reason that we seem to learn more from painful experiences than from pleasant ones?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Corlyss_D
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Re: Experience Italian!

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:27 pm

SamLowry wrote:I couldn't resist pasting in this quote. (Hey, I almost don't own a single Mendelssohn recording, shame on me!)
You definitely need to rent Breaking Away and give a look-see.
Corlyss
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Mark Antony Owen
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Post by Mark Antony Owen » Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:41 am

This is purely personal preference, but give me Mendelssohn any day over Mozart. Felix's music, like that of Schubert, really speaks to me. I find it emotionally stirring; and speaking as a creative individual - professionally and personally - I'm drawn to the (melo?)drama of Mendelssohn. Classicist he may have been in many respects, but for me, he took that classicism and infused it with just enough romantic fervour to make a beautiful mixture of the two. As for particular works, I'm quite taken with his String Symphony No. 7 as heard here:

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FrankAderholdt
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Post by FrankAderholdt » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:50 am

I'm surprised this thread is still alive. Again, I appreciate all the great comments since my first post.

I have reconsidered Mendelssohn and found that the problem was with me, not the composer. I was trying to make Mendelssohn into something he's not. As I've always preached about other composers, Don't force them into someone else's mold.

There are plenty of composers with more "depth" and emotional impact than Mendelssohn, but few with his combination of charm, proportion, balance, good taste, and technical excellence. More and more, he leaves me with a sense of satisfaction and completeness. Of course, there's more intellectual challenge in Bach, more joy in Haydn, more drama in Beethoven, more high seriousness in Brahms. Mendelssohn, though, is like a friend who helps you relax on a pleasant evening, with no crises, no distractions, no agonizing over life's great issues -- just good friendship. That's pretty good in itself.

I stand corrected about Mendelssohn.
"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise." -- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

lmpower
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Post by lmpower » Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:42 am

That's a fine statement, Frank, but the fact remains that Mendelssohn doesn't move us as deeply as Beethoven, so you weren't that far off on your original post. I have several Mendelssohn records in my collection out of a desire to give him a reasonable chance. I get a fair amount of enjoyment out of their rather infrequent playing.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon May 01, 2006 12:30 am

Technically speaking, Mendelssohn was weakest in rhythm. Often he used pizzicato as background support for his melodies.

If only he had been a Beethoven or a Schumann in the realm of rhythmic power!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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