Brahms real talent...

Dalibor
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Post by Dalibor » Sun Nov 12, 2006 6:54 pm

BWV 1080 wrote: Mahler's 6th has been called the first modern symphony. He was a primary influence on Shostakovich, Schnittke, Schoenberg and Berg.
His penchant for parody and irony has been widely adopted by later composers.
Why 6th and not some other? I don't see it as any more modern than other Mahler symphonies

"Penchant for parody and irony" is not suggesting a musician but a writter. I suppose Mahler must have had something more worth mentioning to teach new generations

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Sun Nov 12, 2006 7:53 pm

paulb wrote:Though my list is 'cast in stone", really thats not a sign of closed mindedness.
Thanks, again, Paul! That is easily the funniest thing I've read all day! :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
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paulb
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Post by paulb » Sun Nov 12, 2006 9:12 pm

karlhenning wrote:
paulb wrote:Though my list is 'cast in stone", really thats not a sign of closed mindedness.
Thanks, again, Paul! That is easily the funniest thing I've read all day! :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl, take notice of what i said before and afterwards, the context.
I said the list is the composers I am most affected by.
Mussorgsky has an opera and a orchestral piece, but I can't place him among my most beloved of compoers.

And take notice of my list. Spans, early renaissance, Byrd, Tallis, Vivaldi, Bach, to Mozart, even Wagner sits at the table!!!, Grieg, Albeniz, to Schonberg, Shostakovich and many others of this era, and completes full circle to Elliot carter, Schnittke and Pettersson.

That seems to me to embrace every layer of classical, every epoch and style of classical. IOW a wholesome, universal , inclusive attitude of the great art of classical music.

Look at others list, they almost entirely exclude the 20th century and especially late 20 th century. But i might be wrong, some 20th century composers may fall in their 11-20 fav composer list. But would Schnittke , Pettersson and carter be there in the 11-20 list?
Very unlikely.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

pizza
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Post by pizza » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:21 am

BWV 1080 wrote: Mahler's 6th has been called the first modern symphony. He was a primary influence on Shostakovich, Schnittke, Schoenberg and Berg.
His penchant for parody and irony has been widely adopted by later composers.
It was Mahler's 7th that first convinced Schoenberg of his greatness. As for parody, the last movement of the 7th parodies Brahms, Wagner and Strauss perfectly. I never could understand the difficulty people have in accepting it as one of Mahler's greatest. It has almost everything. If I had to pick a "first modern symphony", the 7th might well be it.

Mahler's musical irony begins with his Opus 1, Das Klagende Lied. It would be difficult to think of a more ironic outcome to a story.

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:30 am

paulb wrote: And take notice of my list. Spans, early renaissance, Byrd, Tallis, Vivaldi, Bach, to Mozart, even Wagner sits at the table!!!, Grieg, Albeniz, to Schonberg, Shostakovich and many others of this era, and completes full circle to Elliot carter, Schnittke and Pettersson.

That seems to me to embrace every layer of classical, every epoch and style of classical. IOW a wholesome, universal , inclusive attitude of the great art of classical music.

Look at others list, they almost entirely exclude the 20th century and especially late 20 th century. But i might be wrong, some 20th century composers may fall in their 11-20 fav composer list. But would Schnittke , Pettersson and carter be there in the 11-20 list?
Very unlikely.
Paul

Your list contains some very big holes, like a weird swiss cheese. There's a huge one in the middle right in the middle of the sandwich: Beethoven. OK, you've put in Wagner but I reckon that is largely a sop to make it look less daft.

No one would find your views even slightly odd if you personally merely said you aren't keen on a lot of Beethoven, but to write him off in the way you do (as if he couldn't compose) in favour of mere pygmies by comparison is what makes it all so odd. I thought you realised this? While your views are extreme you write as if it's the rest of us who are odd. Beethoven was the greatest, ever.

Sorry, but this man Schnittke is a second rater at best, in comparison. That's the truth of it on any fair, general assessment. Pettersson is so far off the radar, he may as well be on the "Dark Side of the Moon"; and you know what I'd far sooner listen to any day.


Saphire

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Post by paulb » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:11 am

Saphire wrote:
paulb wrote: And take notice of my list. Spans, early renaissance, Byrd, Tallis, Vivaldi, Bach, to Mozart, even Wagner sits at the table!!!, Grieg, Albeniz, to Schonberg, Shostakovich and many others of this era, and completes full circle to Elliot carter, Schnittke and Pettersson.

That seems to me to embrace every layer of classical, every epoch and style of classical. IOW a wholesome, universal , inclusive attitude of the great art of classical music.

Look at others list, they almost entirely exclude the 20th century and especially late 20 th century. But i might be wrong, some 20th century composers may fall in their 11-20 fav composer list. But would Schnittke , Pettersson and carter be there in the 11-20 list?
Very unlikely.
Paul

Your list contains some very big holes, like a weird swiss cheese. There's a huge one in the middle right in the middle of the sandwich: Beethoven. OK, you've put in Wagner but I reckon that is largely a sop to make it look less daft.

No one would find your views even slightly odd if you personally merely said you aren't keen on a lot of Beethoven, but to write him off in the way you do (as if he couldn't compose) in favour of mere pygmies by comparison is what makes it all so odd. I thought you realised this? While your views are extreme you write as if it's the rest of us who are odd. Beethoven was the greatest, ever.

Sorry, but this man Schnittke is a second rater at best, in comparison. That's the truth of it on any fair, general assessment. Pettersson is so far off the radar, he may as well be on the "Dark Side of the Moon"; and you know what I'd far sooner listen to any day.


Saphire

Oh goodie, I caught a fish. Let me reel him in.

Saphire, I have proposed the idea that there are 2 branches of classical music. Oh now go ahead and protest: "preposterous, we are all one, classical music IS ONE ENTITY"

I've come to this conclusion as of 6 months ago and your post has provided more substance for its validation.
The 2 branches are, if you do not know: The Mozartian and Beethovenian.
Obviously no need saying which family I owe my allegiance, my devotion.
Of course there is some slight overlapping in subsequent compoers.
And you will argue Dvorak draws just as much from Mozart as he does from Beethoven. Whereas I disticntly hear Dvorak as "Ludwig Junior". Mahler, Brahms, Sibelius syms, that entire romatic period is Beethovenisque.
Except Wagner has moments of his braek from Beethoven in his 3 greatest operas, which are the only ones I like from him, The others are too Beethovenisque for my taste.
Of course there's Grieg, whose music is inspired by his lands folk melodies.
Yes there is a huge gap in my favorite composer time line. But so many flocked after, or were unconsciously drawn into Beethoven's powerful influence.

I am Mozartian, pure and simple. Beethoven and anything with his influence is opposed to my musical sensibilities.
Sure Shostakovich has much influence from Mahler, and mahler has strong connections with Beethoven.
But you certainly can't say, "well gee, if you like Shosty, it stands to reason you will like Beethoven".

There's no where i state that Beethoven was a lousey composer. To the contrary he was a masterful composer, very eloquent in all genres of composition.

Now if you Beethovenians/romantics, choose to ignore a few late 20th century compoers, its your god given right to do so.
We live in a country of freedoms, and so can chose our own destiny.

I cannot make any claims of judgement as to your Royal Roundtable Of Composers, nor should you find fault with mine.

Let us find that common ground of neutrality and friendship where 2 or 3 composers on my list match the same 2 or 3 on your list.
Our kingdoms will live in peace.

NOTE: "oh thats nonsense, the 2 divisions, the 2 schools of classical"
Oh it is lets see we have 2 main branches of all major religions, every countries political parties are divided into opposites, North Korea vs South Korea. the list could be extended INDEFINETLY.

Nice Day

Oh yes : "is it possible to be Beethovenian and a Petterssonian and/or a Schnittkeian at the same time?"

You think you have trapped me, do you.

Yes there are cases of one being at the same time a Beethovenian and a Schnittkeian. But then consider the man may also love Mozart, and so that blows the idea that if one is Beethovenian, then how is it he also can like Pettersson or Schnittke? Because he may also like Mozart as much or in fact more than Beethoven.

He's what a call a member of both schools, and thats fine too.
But as to us pure Mozartians, we love certain composers, and exclude others.
Its the way we are wired.
So its expected you romantic(Beethovenians) faithful will not like Pettersson nor Schnitkke, its the way you are wired.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

pizza
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Post by pizza » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:34 am

paulb wrote:
But as to us pure Mozartians, we love certain composers, and exclude others.
Its the way we are wired.
So its expected you romantic(Beethovenians) faithful will not like Pettersson nor Schnitkke, its the way you are wired.
And those of us who like all and exclude none are haywired! :wink:

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Post by Sapphire » Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:59 pm

Paul

Three points in response:

1. You appear to think it's normal to like either Mozart or Beethoven. I would have thought that normality is the other way round, namely that someone who likes one would normally like the other.
2. You overlook that Beethoven spanned the Classical and Romantic eras. Roughly one-third of Beethoven''s output (measured in terms of Ops) was in the late classical mould in the "early" part of his career, i.e. from about 1793 to 1800. This included 2 symphonies, 21 piano sonatas, 9 violin sonatas, 6 string quartets, 2 piano concertos, a septet, two romances for violin and orchestra, and various others splendid works. Do you not like any of these?

3. On a separate occasion, you have said that Ravel's and Debussy's adverse view of Beethoven made you feel the same way. But why? Neither of these produced consistently wonderful material. I personally think most of it is second-rate. Even if it was all brilliant, their opinion wouldn't make the slightest diference to my view of Beethoven, who is self-evidently very clearly in the very highest tier of composers.


Saphire

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:01 pm

But as to us pure Mozartians, we love certain composers, and exclude others.
Its the way we are wired.
So its expected you romantic(Beethovenians) faithful will not like Pettersson nor Schnitkke, its the way you are wired.
But this is exquisite banana oil!

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
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paulb
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Post by paulb » Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:41 pm

Saphire wrote:Paul

Three points in response:

1. You appear to think it's normal to like either Mozart or Beethoven. I would have thought that normality is the other way round, namely that someone who likes one would normally like the other.
2. You overlook that Beethoven spanned the Classical and Romantic eras. Roughly one-third of Beethoven''s output (measured in terms of Ops) was in the late classical mould in the "early" part of his career, i.e. from about 1793 to 1800. This included 2 symphonies, 21 piano sonatas, 9 violin sonatas, 6 string quartets, 2 piano concertos, a septet, two romances for violin and orchestra, and various others splendid works. Do you not like any of these?

3. On a separate occasion, you have said that Ravel's and Debussy's adverse view of Beethoven made you feel the same way. But why? Neither of these produced consistently wonderful material. I personally think most of it is second-rate. Even if it was all brilliant, their opinion wouldn't make the slightest diference to my view of Beethoven, who is self-evidently very clearly in the very highest tier of composers.


Saphire

I wouldn't know the exact figures, but I'm guessing, in Beethoven's time, maybe 80% of the folk loved his music, 10% indifferent, the other 10% did not pursue to hear his music, after several listens.
I
'm guessing this average can be carried through present day, 2006.
So 2 out of 10 classicphiles can not be included in the beethoven fan club.
Sorry you can't have a 100% rating.
Though I surmise you believe that everyone just loves Beethoven, now don't you.
And that those who do not aspire to love Beethoven, well he's just quirky. There's presumption on your part to over extend Beethoven's popularity, especially in the last part of this century.
Regardless of the %age. And I'm not going to emphasize Debussy and Ravel's feelings towards Beethoven and other romantics. You know how composers feel about the ones they don't care for.

Sure Beethoven has a prodigious and spectacular composing career, most of which is as you say top tier. There's no denying the man's supreme genius. Even Debussy and Ravel clearly knew this.

What do I find of interest of Beethoven? I like his 3rd, 4th syms, 1st pc, the vc, a few of his piano sonatas.
If I get a chance to hear these works in a concert , performed well, I;'d be delighted to attend.

What i was getting at by the 2 distinct styles of Beethoven and Mozart, there seems to be those composers who draw more from Beethoven and others who take Mozart's course, the free creative way.
Debussy and Ravel seem to me of the Mozartian style of composing. music that issues from the gut, the deeper recesses of the soul, which is the spontaniety of the spirit.

Beethoven seems to have worked things out more on the cognitive level. As did Bruckner, Mahler, Brahms, Dvorak, etc etc etc. Most compoers take Beethoven's influence or methods. Sibelius in his syms fell under Beethoven's ideas.

I would not say that Debussy(Mozartian) and Sibelius(Beethovenian) have much association.
I'm just postulating 2 broad categories of style of writing, with Beethoven and Mozart as the origin and birth of these 2 styles.
Wagner drew about equal from both, and is a rare example.
Schonberg had many styles and is difficult to categorize.

I'm not sure what your point is about Debussy and Ravel. "inconsistent material", "second tier".
Why? Just for the sake of highlighting your points of my lack of interest in Beethoven?
As with my disinterest in Beethoven will not in any degree affect your enjoyment of Beethoven or other romantics, likewise what you feel about Debussy and ravel has no bearing on my deepest appreciation for these masters.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:22 am

Saphire wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:As soon as I saw Tschaikowsky on that other list ahead of Schumann I knew it was just another popularity contest. Tschaikowsky has VERY few unblemished masterpieces, wrote less than HALF of what Schumann wrote and has barely a handful of what psychologist and musicologist Hans Keller writes of Schumann's music, "spotless works of genius".

Jack
But Jack, I'm keen on ballet! And ballet without Tchaikovsky would be like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Fewer masterpieces than Schumann? I'm not so sure about that. What about?
  • Nutcracker
    Swan Lake
    Romeo & Juliet overture
    Sleeping Beaty
    S4
    S5
    S6
    Piano Con 1
    Piano Con 3
    Violin Con
    Francesca di Rimini
    Capricio Italien
    Serenade for Strings
    Marche Slave
    Piano trio in A Min
The ballets alone are monumental works. So too are the late symphonies. I must admit that my like of Tchaikovsky is partly a throw-back to my youth when he and Mozart were Nos 1 and 2. I then lost interest to some extent but later became keen on ballet, and found a renewed interest in Mr T. I don't know whether you are interested in ballet, but if not currently and if you were to become so I almost guarantee your opinion of Mr T would go up.

Some would say Tchaikovsky was one of the greatest composers of melody who ever lived, along with Beethoven and Schubert. For me many of his works - especially the ballet music - paint florid scenes with brilliant orchestration. I consider his special skill was bringing the melodies just at the right moment. If you watched a ballet you'd know what I mean.

He was certainly more diverse than Wagner and some would say more innovative and creative than Brahms. As is well-known it is often said that Brahms basically imitated Beethoven and Mozart, and did nothing that had not really been done before. That's not to say Brahms was poor innovately. In fact I don't think this is quite true, and in any event I prefer Brahms overall, imitation or not. I've said so in my rankings. Also, remember that Tchaikovsky had a poweful influence on later generations too. So no apologies from me in saying I like Mr T.

As for Schumann, you know I like his work a great deal. But I wouldn't pretend that everything he wrote was brilliant, any more than I would say the same of Beethoven or Schubert. My admiration is based on the general thrust of their style, not because I thought they wrote perfectly on all occasions. I love Schumann mainly because of his unique solo piano style which I happen to like more than most others. There is other material I like too. I love Schubert because of his chamber works, piano sonatas, lieder, and late symphonies. I love Beethoven because he made such an important break in music and produced some of the cleverest and perfect pieces that one can possibly imagine. In actual fact, I'd place Beethoven miles higher than the rest. His late String Quartets are unbeatable....

Saphire
Beethoven "miles higher..."(?!)...not for musicians----and certainly not here in Germany. Let's not bend Beethoven's contributions out of reality. Schumann's music is worthy to follow Beethoven's---as well as the symphonies of Bruckner and Brahms are.

Schumann, like Brahms, is considered a "musician's musician". Of his 148 opus numbers, circa 137 are considered masterpieces.

With Tschaikowsky things are quite different. His works are often very uneven, his greatest masterpieces included. He himself was aware of this and undertook measures to make his musical thought-processes more compact. Although the works you mentioned are very familiar to the music-loving public, many of them are more of lighter entertainment value---like the ballets....wonderfully charming and full of infectious themes.

"Francesca da Rimini" is dramatic and impassioned, but goes on too long. "March Slav" is a neat tone-poem, but should not be rated higher than "Finlandia" or "Bolero". "Capriccio Italien" is likewise superficial, but quite attractive.

Of the works you mentioned, the 4th, 5th and (perhaps) 6th symphonies, the Violin Concerto, "Romeo and Juliet", the popular Serenade in C" and the ballets are top-drawer Tschaikowsky, though he is occasionally even here a bit "over the top".

The great emotion of Tschaikowsky's music should not influence us to make false claims for his depth. I know all 7 of his symphonies by heart, everything on your list (except the 3rd piano concerto) I've know since forty years. I enjoy this music immensely, but---objectively heard---his world cannot compare in content, depth, complexity or perfection with those of a Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann or Wagner.

There is simply so much more that is sublime in those composers' universes, so much of which I am still discovering.

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

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:45 am

paulb wrote:I wouldn't know the exact figures, but I'm guessing, in Beethoven's time, maybe 80% of the folk loved his music, 10% indifferent, the other 10% did not pursue to hear his music, after several listens.
You understand this is pure, arbitrary science-fiction? You cold-blooded murderer of cultural history, you!

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
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Post by karlhenning » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:59 am

Just consider it respectful dissent, Jack :-)
Jack Kelso wrote:With Tschaikowsky things are quite different. His works are often very uneven, his greatest masterpieces included. He himself was aware of this and undertook measures to make his musical thought-processes more compact. Although the works you mentioned are very familiar to the music-loving public, many of them are more of lighter entertainment value---like the ballets....wonderfully charming and full of infectious themes.
Well, I would not consider his greatest masterpieces uneven.
"Francesca da Rimini" is dramatic and impassioned, but goes on too long.
Hmm; don't know that it goes on too long, at all.
"March Slav" is a neat tone-poem, but should not be rated higher than "Finlandia" or "Bolero".
No substantial argument.
"Capriccio Italien" is likewise superficial, but quite attractive.
Well, in the first place, superficial sounds dismissive, and I object. God save us, if all music were so navel-gazingly serious as Pettersson or Schnittke 8) I find the piece entirely charming, and that charm is enough.
Of the works you mentioned, the 4th, 5th and (perhaps) 6th symphonies, the Violin Concerto, "Romeo and Juliet", the popular Serenade in C" and the ballets are top-drawer Tschaikowsky, though he is occasionally even here a bit "over the top".
There can be moments even in the abstract piece where the content/presentation gets rather "stagey"; but at any rate, in none of these works listed do I find this anything like a flaw.
The great emotion of Tschaikowsky's music should not influence us to make false claims for his depth.
This strikes me as a false dichotomy. And I really believe that the only way to find Tchaikovsky "inferior" to Mozart (e.g.) in matters of content, depth, complexity or perfection, is arbitrarily to set Mozart as the goal, a goal which any other composer necessarily misses by a narrower or wider margin, simply because no two great composers' work is anything like identical.
There is simply so much more that is sublime in those composers' universes, so much of which I am still discovering.
Jack, Tchaikovsky is not one whit less sublime. It is only that the sublime in Tchaikovsky possesses a character different to the sublime in Beethoven, Schumann or Mozart.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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pizza
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Post by pizza » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:08 am

Both Tchaikovsky and Schumann used Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred as the basis for their music: Schumann's Manfred Overture and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. It can easily be argued that Tchaikovsky did more with it in terms of musical ideas and development than did Schumann.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:35 pm

pizza wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote: Mahler's 6th has been called the first modern symphony. He was a primary influence on Shostakovich, Schnittke, Schoenberg and Berg.
His penchant for parody and irony has been widely adopted by later composers.
It was Mahler's 7th that first convinced Schoenberg of his greatness. As for parody, the last movement of the 7th parodies Brahms, Wagner and Strauss perfectly. I never could understand the difficulty people have in accepting it as one of Mahler's greatest. It has almost everything. If I had to pick a "first modern symphony", the 7th might well be it.

Mahler's musical irony begins with his Opus 1, Das Klagende Lied. It would be difficult to think of a more ironic outcome to a story.
The 7th is one of my favorites as well. Aside from being earlier than the 7th, it is the nihilistic nature of the 6th symphony that makes it modern. As Berg famously said "The only Sixth, despite the 'Pastoral'."

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:25 pm

Jack

I must come back at you on some of your comments above (which I will not copy it as it is too long).

1. I very clearly noted that in my opinion Beethoven is “miles higher” than anyone else. You questioned this. That is my opinion. I’m not saying either that I consider the world thinks so, or even less that the world should think so.

2. You say that in Germany Beethoven is not considered the highest, but that Schumann, Bruckner, and Brahms are considered worthy contenders, and you imply that this situation is more likely to be reflective of majority opinion elsewhere.

3. The situation you describe in Germany is most certainly not the position the UK. On popularity, Schumann got only one entry in a top 300 poll of works earlier this year on a major classical music UK radio station. Bruckner got none at at all, and Brahms only got a few. On rank, Schumann is well down the list (near the bottom). I am not suggesting this is the finest or most reliable guide. It is one indicator which I have looked at which is amenable to objective assessment. The top 5 - based on the number of favourite works as voted - and weighted by rank, and according to my calculations) were:
  • 1 Mozart
    2 Beethoven
    3 Tchaikovsky
    4 Rachmaninov
    5 Elgar
4. I have no hard information on taste patterns in places like the USA, Russia, and France. However, I doubt that Schumann is even in their top 10. I concede that Brahms may well be.

5. You say that of Schumann’s 148 opus numbers some 137 are considered “masterpieces”. While I greatly like many of Schumann's works, it seems a bit strong to say that 137 out of 148 works are considered “masterpieces”. I suppose it depends on one's definition of a "masterpiece" but on a reasonable interpretation I would not think that even Beethoven got anywhere near that number, nor Mozart, nor Bach. I certainly can't believe that over 90% of Schumann's works are universally considered "masterpieces". In the UK only a handful of his works ever gets played.

6. Tchaikovsky. You say his ballets are “light entertainment”. I would not agree with that for one moment. To describe the ballet music of say Sleeping Beauty as mere “light entertainment” is surely a gross exaggeration. The Royal Opera House (and similar places in other parts of the world) don't put on light entertainment. Such works are of high quality, as too are many of Tchaikovsky’s other works, which you consider not that brilliant. The majoity opinion on another website I have visited places Tchaikovsky ahead of Schumann in terms of overall greatness measured by number of masterpieces, popularity, influence etc. This does not reflect my personal viewpoint. Like you, I think Schumann is great. However, as I have previously noted, my strong liking is not usual. At most I have detected only a partial liking, mainly for some of his solo piano works, piano concerto, and a couple of his symphonies, but beyond that not much interest.


Saphire

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:34 am

pizza wrote:Both Tchaikovsky and Schumann used Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred as the basis for their music: Schumann's Manfred Overture and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. It can easily be argued that Tchaikovsky did more with it in terms of musical ideas and development than did Schumann.
On the contrary. Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name, whereas the painfully intense and highly-charged Schumann "Manfred" Overture enjoys a repertoire position even higher than the "Tragic Overture" of Brahms.

Not even Tschaikowsky's extremely popular mystique and magnetic name with average listeners has not brought his "Manfred" Symphony to high acclaim or popular appeal. Musically, it is considerably weaker than his nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Still, I personally enjoy it---as it contains the beloved language, orchestration and style, if not the inspiration, of Russia's most popular Romantic Era composer.

Remember too, that Schumann composed arias, choruses, intermezzi and orchestral background music to Byron's dramatic poem. which (typical for Schumann) have been greatly neglected.

My complete recording of the Schumann I culled from German radio.

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

Jack Kelso
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Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:06 am

O MY GOSH---WHAT HAVE I DONE...?!? It looks as though I might have inadvertently started "World War III in the Music World"----the Tschaikowskyians are coming, the Tschaikowskyians are coming!

Seriously, though Karl and Saphire et al.....some works of his just don't "do it" for me anymore. Otherwise, I know and love all of his works---for what they are intended and for what they express: honesty, integrity, despair, passion, drama---in other words, very much the same as what Schumann expresses---but with a difference....and a semi-Slavic soul.

Certainly the general populace is going to gravitate more to Tschaikowsky than to Schumann, who doesn't give up his secrets quite so readily. And no one knew this better than P.I.T. himself, who regarded Schumann as the greatest musical genius since Beethoven. He only couldn't understand why Schumann used such a "dry" orchestral palatte to get his ideas over.

Oscar awards, beauty pageants and greatest composer lists aside, there is no reason why I can't someday go back and enjoy "March Slav", "The Nutcracker" Suite and "Capriccio Italiene" as I did some decades ago.

Still, I try to be 90% objective on this site....and reserve 10% for my personal opinions. Regarding Schumann's high masterpiece percentage, it's true: yep, he's got the percentage record (unless you believe those who want to tear down the late works like the Mass, op. 147 and the Requiem, opus 148---which I know you don't).

Challenge: Name a Schumann work---and I'll do my best to find out if it's a masterpiece or NOT....okay? I'll do my objective best!

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

pizza
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:46 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:Both Tchaikovsky and Schumann used Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred as the basis for their music: Schumann's Manfred Overture and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. It can easily be argued that Tchaikovsky did more with it in terms of musical ideas and development than did Schumann.
On the contrary. Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name, whereas the painfully intense and highly-charged Schumann "Manfred" Overture enjoys a repertoire position even higher than the "Tragic Overture" of Brahms.

Not even Tschaikowsky's extremely popular mystique and magnetic name with average listeners has not brought his "Manfred" Symphony to high acclaim or popular appeal. Musically, it is considerably weaker than his nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Still, I personally enjoy it---as it contains the beloved language, orchestration and style, if not the inspiration, of Russia's most popular Romantic Era composer.

Remember too, that Schumann composed arias, choruses, intermezzi and orchestral background music to Byron's dramatic poem. which (typical for Schumann) have been greatly neglected.

My complete recording of the Schumann I culled from German radio.

Tschüß,
Jack
Popular neglect proves nothing other than popular neglect. It has no bearing on the merits of a composer or his work. Bach was neglected for over a century until he was rediscovered by Mendelssohn. Does that prove that during his period of musical obscurity Bach was not the equal of Mozart?

It is certainly harder and costlier in terms of orchestral resources to mount a production of Tchaikovsky's symphony than Schumann's overture. The fact that the average listener has been deprived of hearing live performances of a difficult work says more about bland and repetitious programming than it does about the merits of neglected works. The sad history of programming is replete with neglected masterpieces that are "suddenly" discovered when enough pressure is placed on lazy administrators. Aside from all of that, a glance at recent recording and performance history shows a marked increase in interest in the Tchaikovsky symphony. Mariss Jansons' Oslo P.O. recording on Chandos is one of the most spectacular Tchaikovsky performances ever released and proves that in the hands of a sympathetic and knowledgeable musician, the work equals or surpasses most others of its genre.

No matter how you slice it, Tchaikowsky did more with the idea of Manfred in terms of the development of a major work than did Schumann.
Last edited by pizza on Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
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Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:04 am

pizza wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:Both Tchaikovsky and Schumann used Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred as the basis for their music: Schumann's Manfred Overture and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. It can easily be argued that Tchaikovsky did more with it in terms of musical ideas and development than did Schumann.
On the contrary. Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name, whereas the painfully intense and highly-charged Schumann "Manfred" Overture enjoys a repertoire position even higher than the "Tragic Overture" of Brahms.

Not even Tschaikowsky's extremely popular mystique and magnetic name with average listeners has not brought his "Manfred" Symphony to high acclaim or popular appeal. Musically, it is considerably weaker than his nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Still, I personally enjoy it---as it contains the beloved language, orchestration and style, if not the inspiration, of Russia's most popular Romantic Era composer.

Remember too, that Schumann composed arias, choruses, intermezzi and orchestral background music to Byron's dramatic poem. which (typical for Schumann) have been greatly neglected.

My complete recording of the Schumann I culled from German radio.

Tschüß,
Jack
Popular neglect proves nothing other than popular neglect. It has no bearing on the merits of a composer or his work. Bach was neglected for over a century until he was rediscovered by Mendelssohn. Does that prove that during his period of musical obscurity Bach was not the equal of Mozart?

It is certainly harder and costlier in terms of orchestral resources to mount a production of Tchaikovsky's symphony than Schumann's overture. The fact that the average listener has been deprived of hearing live performances of a difficult work says more about bland and repetitious programming than it does about the merits of neglected works. The sad history of programming is replete with neglected masterpieces that are "suddenly" discovered when enough pressure is placed on lazy administrators. Aside from all of that, a glance at recent recording and performance history shows a marked increase in interest in the Tchaikovsky symphony.

No matter how you slice it, Tchaikowsky did more with the idea of Manfred in terms of development than did Schumann.
Sigh! If only Tschaikowsky's inspiration had been up to his ambition! It contains some attractive passages, but lacks the intensity of his better symphonic efforts (not to mention Schumann's work). Had he given the work a number instead of a title (which doesn't fit that well anyway) it wouldn't have fared any better.

Since when is a production of a symphony such a costly affair? There are symphony concerts every day all over the world. And how can you compare the discovery of Bach's music with the current popularization of Tschaikowsky's music?!

Don't forget---I mentioned the ENTIRE "Manfred" music----which reflects far more the inner tragedy and turmoil of Byron's intentions than T.'s symphony.

Try and get the entire Schumann "Manfred" music. It's not easy music, but it's very worthwhile....and once you know it you'll never leave it.

Good listening!

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

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:22 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:Both Tchaikovsky and Schumann used Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred as the basis for their music: Schumann's Manfred Overture and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. It can easily be argued that Tchaikovsky did more with it in terms of musical ideas and development than did Schumann.
On the contrary. Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name, whereas the painfully intense and highly-charged Schumann "Manfred" Overture enjoys a repertoire position even higher than the "Tragic Overture" of Brahms.

Not even Tschaikowsky's extremely popular mystique and magnetic name with average listeners has not brought his "Manfred" Symphony to high acclaim or popular appeal. Musically, it is considerably weaker than his nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Still, I personally enjoy it---as it contains the beloved language, orchestration and style, if not the inspiration, of Russia's most popular Romantic Era composer.

Remember too, that Schumann composed arias, choruses, intermezzi and orchestral background music to Byron's dramatic poem. which (typical for Schumann) have been greatly neglected.

My complete recording of the Schumann I culled from German radio.

Tschüß,
Jack
Popular neglect proves nothing other than popular neglect. It has no bearing on the merits of a composer or his work. Bach was neglected for over a century until he was rediscovered by Mendelssohn. Does that prove that during his period of musical obscurity Bach was not the equal of Mozart?

It is certainly harder and costlier in terms of orchestral resources to mount a production of Tchaikovsky's symphony than Schumann's overture. The fact that the average listener has been deprived of hearing live performances of a difficult work says more about bland and repetitious programming than it does about the merits of neglected works. The sad history of programming is replete with neglected masterpieces that are "suddenly" discovered when enough pressure is placed on lazy administrators. Aside from all of that, a glance at recent recording and performance history shows a marked increase in interest in the Tchaikovsky symphony.

No matter how you slice it, Tchaikowsky did more with the idea of Manfred in terms of development than did Schumann.
Sigh! If only Tschaikowsky's inspiration had been up to his ambition! It contains some attractive passages, but lacks the intensity of his better symphonic efforts (not to mention Schumann's work). Had he given the work a number instead of a title (which doesn't fit that well anyway) it wouldn't have fared any better.

Since when is a production of a symphony such a costly affair? There are symphony concerts every day all over the world. And how can you compare the discovery of Bach's music with the current popularization of Tschaikowsky's music?!

Don't forget---I mentioned the ENTIRE "Manfred" music----which reflects far more the inner tragedy and turmoil of Byron's intentions than T.'s symphony.

Try and get the entire Schumann "Manfred" music. It's not easy music, but it's very worthwhile....and once you know it you'll never leave it.

Good listening!

Jack
Listen to Mariss Jansons' recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred and you'll hear what intensity contrasted with pure lyricism is all about. There's no lack of inspiration in its development and when played by a master musician whose sympathy for the work equals his directive skills, the work is the equal of any of the numbered symphonies and surpasses many others.

My point concerning Bach's relative obscurity was clear as a bell. It addressed your notion that popularity is the measure of value. If popularity as opposed to neglect is the measure of value, then how do you explain the neglect of Schumann's other "Manfred" pieces? The same principles that you apply to Tchaikovsky's Manfred should also apply to Schumann's.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:46 am

pizza wrote:Listen to Mariss Jansons' recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred and you'll hear what intensity contrasted with pure lyricism is all about. There's no lack of inspiration in its development and when played by a master musician whose sympathy for the work equals his directive skills, the work is the equal of any of the numbered symphonies and surpasses many others.

My point concerning Bach's relative obscurity was clear as a bell. It addressed your notion that popularity is the measure of value. If popularity as opposed to neglect is the measure of value, then how do you explain the neglect of Schumann's other "Manfred" pieces? The same principles that you apply to Tchaikovsky's Manfred should also apply to Schumann's.
Jansons' got the same fine review as Muti's, that both intensify the drama and theatrics inherent in the work. The ballet-like middle movements still retain their charm, however.

I never intended to give the impression that "popularity is the measure of value". But your comparison of Bach and Tschaikowsky didn't cut it, since the reasons for Bach's popularity are totally different from Tschaikowsky's, and based on entirely different circumstances, times, music-lovers and works.

What I meant was: popularity has a great deal to do with accessibility. And Mr. T is very accessibile; thus his reputation and fans will gather round to hear him....even lesser-known works. Schumann's "Manfred" (especially incidental music) is one of his least accessible works---although the musical ideas are very powerful.

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

pizza
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Wed Nov 15, 2006 5:48 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:Listen to Mariss Jansons' recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred and you'll hear what intensity contrasted with pure lyricism is all about. There's no lack of inspiration in its development and when played by a master musician whose sympathy for the work equals his directive skills, the work is the equal of any of the numbered symphonies and surpasses many others.

My point concerning Bach's relative obscurity was clear as a bell. It addressed your notion that popularity is the measure of value. If popularity as opposed to neglect is the measure of value, then how do you explain the neglect of Schumann's other "Manfred" pieces? The same principles that you apply to Tchaikovsky's Manfred should also apply to Schumann's.
Jansons' got the same fine review as Muti's, that both intensify the drama and theatrics inherent in the work. The ballet-like middle movements still retain their charm, however.

I never intended to give the impression that "popularity is the measure of value". But your comparison of Bach and Tschaikowsky didn't cut it, since the reasons for Bach's popularity are totally different from Tschaikowsky's, and based on entirely different circumstances, times, music-lovers and works.

What I meant was: popularity has a great deal to do with accessibility. And Mr. T is very accessibile; thus his reputation and fans will gather round to hear him....even lesser-known works. Schumann's "Manfred" (especially incidental music) is one of his least accessible works---although the musical ideas are very powerful.

Jack
Here's what you said:

"Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name ...,". The matter to be proven was what each of the two composers did with the idea of Lord Byron's "Manfred". Tchaikovsky worked the story into a major symphony. Schumann wrote a much less complex overture. The relative neglect afforded the Tchaikovsky has no bearing on its worth.

I didn't compare the works of Bach and Tchaikovsky. I merely pointed out that relative neglect of a work proves nothing concerning its value and I used the neglect of Bach's music as an obvious example.

Concerning the comparisons you raise between Jansons and Muti, I recall that there was a review of Jansons' recording some years back in "Gramophone" that compared it with Muti's. In the critic's opinion (and in mine as well) Jansons' comes out well ahead on all salient points. Here is the review, which is instructive concerning some important features of the work itself:

Tchaikovsky

Manfred Symphony, Op. 58

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Mariss Jansons

Chandos ABTD1245 ( DDD)

Recorded in association with the Bergesen Group

Reviewed: Gramophone 5/1988, Edward Greenfield

Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic round off their remarkable Tchaikovsky series for Chandos with an electrifying reading of Manfred, which shows them at their very peak. With sound far fuller and sweeter than on either CD rival, yet with admirable transparency, it must now stand as a clear first choice, and could well do so for a long time.

With its unconventional, Berlioz-inspired structure, this is a more difficult work to hold together than any of the numbered symphonies. With speeds which—except in the Vivace of the second movement—are markedly faster than those of Muti (EMI), Jansons finds an extra tautness, but without any cramping of expressiveness. As he has consistently shown in his Tchaikovsky recordings, he is a master of Tchaikovskian rubato, so that though the moulding of phrase and rhythm are in effect extremely subtle, they sound totally fresh and spontaneous, with melodies newly minted.

So in the main Manfred theme set out in the long, slow first section, Jansons at a flowing speed is more deeply impassioned than Muti, and builds tension inexorably, never staying on a plateau of fortissimo—as by comparison Muti tends to—but subtly varies tensions, often recoiling for the moment to thrust home still harder. The Astarte theme is then ravishingly beautiful, with pianissimos of whispered delicacy and refinement. Yet Jansons's treatment conveys the sweet freshness of a folk-song with nothing over-sophisticated in it, giving a beautiful and apt characterization of the heroine.

In the second movement Jansons's relatively relaxed speed brings extra delicacy, relating Tchaikovsky's characterization of the Fairy of the Alps to the fairy music of Mendelssohn, with pinpoint articulation and clarity, making Muti, for all his excitement, sound a little breathless by comparison. The counter-subject is then warmly persuasive, one of Tchaikovsky's most haunting ideas, and the slow movement, like the first movement, at a flowing speed, cajoles the ear with the naturalness of rubato and with honeyed oboe sounds in the opening solo. The Shepherd's pipe music is then faster than usual, very crisp, before the main theme returns in sumptuous glory.

Jansons reserves his full impulsiveness for the finale, which at high speed brings superb, exciting playing. The mood is frenetic, but the control and precision are if anything more immaculate than in Muti's much slower performance, which takes almost two and a half minutes longer over this movement alone. The excitement of Jansons's reading culminates in a thrilling entry of the organ, supplemented by luxuriant string sound. Here again Jansons's ability, even at a peak climax, to vary tensions makes this seem less vulgar than it can be, and without any diminution of power. This Manfred recording makes a fitting conclusion to an outstanding series. I hope that Chandos will now think of repackaging all seven discs as a complete set. It would certainly be my first choice of any.'

Edward Greenfield

I think the above critique pretty well describes a marvellous recording of a superb work.

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
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Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:21 am

pizza wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
pizza wrote:Listen to Mariss Jansons' recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred and you'll hear what intensity contrasted with pure lyricism is all about. There's no lack of inspiration in its development and when played by a master musician whose sympathy for the work equals his directive skills, the work is the equal of any of the numbered symphonies and surpasses many others.

My point concerning Bach's relative obscurity was clear as a bell. It addressed your notion that popularity is the measure of value. If popularity as opposed to neglect is the measure of value, then how do you explain the neglect of Schumann's other "Manfred" pieces? The same principles that you apply to Tchaikovsky's Manfred should also apply to Schumann's.
Jansons' got the same fine review as Muti's, that both intensify the drama and theatrics inherent in the work. The ballet-like middle movements still retain their charm, however.

I never intended to give the impression that "popularity is the measure of value". But your comparison of Bach and Tschaikowsky didn't cut it, since the reasons for Bach's popularity are totally different from Tschaikowsky's, and based on entirely different circumstances, times, music-lovers and works.

What I meant was: popularity has a great deal to do with accessibility. And Mr. T is very accessibile; thus his reputation and fans will gather round to hear him....even lesser-known works. Schumann's "Manfred" (especially incidental music) is one of his least accessible works---although the musical ideas are very powerful.

Jack
Here's what you said:

"Proof of the matter lies in the relative neglect that the Tschaikowsky work has suffered---despite the drawing-card popularity of its creator's name ...,". The matter to be proven was what each of the two composers did with the idea of Lord Byron's "Manfred". Tchaikovsky worked the story into a major symphony. Schumann wrote a much less complex overture. The relative neglect afforded the Tchaikovsky has no bearing on its worth.

I didn't compare the works of Bach and Tchaikovsky. I merely pointed out that relative neglect of a work proves nothing concerning its value and I used the neglect of Bach's music as an obvious example.

Concerning the comparisons you raise between Jansons and Muti, I recall that there was a review of Jansons' recording some years back in "Gramophone" that compared it with Muti's. In the critic's opinion (and in mine as well) Jansons' comes out well ahead on all salient points. Here it is:

Tchaikovsky

Manfred Symphony, Op. 58

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Mariss Jansons

Chandos ABTD1245 ( DDD)

Recorded in association with the Bergesen Group

Reviewed: Gramophone 5/1988, Edward Greenfield

Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic round off their remarkable Tchaikovsky series for Chandos with an electrifying reading of Manfred, which shows them at their very peak. With sound far fuller and sweeter than on either CD rival, yet with admirable transparency, it must now stand as a clear first choice, and could well do so for a long time.

With its unconventional, Berlioz-inspired structure, this is a more difficult work to hold together than any of the numbered symphonies. With speeds which—except in the Vivace of the second movement—are markedly faster than those of Muti (EMI), Jansons finds an extra tautness, but without any cramping of expressiveness. As he has consistently shown in his Tchaikovsky recordings, he is a master of Tchaikovskian rubato, so that though the moulding of phrase and rhythm are in effect extremely subtle, they sound totally fresh and spontaneous, with melodies newly minted.

So in the main Manfred theme set out in the long, slow first section, Jansons at a flowing speed is more deeply impassioned than Muti, and builds tension inexorably, never staying on a plateau of fortissimo—as by comparison Muti tends to—but subtly varies tensions, often recoiling for the moment to thrust home still harder. The Astarte theme is then ravishingly beautiful, with pianissimos of whispered delicacy and refinement. Yet Jansons's treatment conveys the sweet freshness of a folk-song with nothing over-sophisticated in it, giving a beautiful and apt characterization of the heroine.

In the second movement Jansons's relatively relaxed speed brings extra delicacy, relating Tchaikovsky's characterization of the Fairy of the Alps to the fairy music of Mendelssohn, with pinpoint articulation and clarity, making Muti, for all his excitement, sound a little breathless by comparison. The counter-subject is then warmly persuasive, one of Tchaikovsky's most haunting ideas, and the slow movement, like the first movement, at a flowing speed, cajoles the ear with the naturalness of rubato and with honeyed oboe sounds in the opening solo. The Shepherd's pipe music is then faster than usual, very crisp, before the main theme returns in sumptuous glory.

Jansons reserves his full impulsiveness for the finale, which at high speed brings superb, exciting playing. The mood is frenetic, but the control and precision are if anything more immaculate than in Muti's much slower performance, which takes almost two and a half minutes longer over this movement alone. The excitement of Jansons's reading culminates in a thrilling entry of the organ, supplemented by luxuriant string sound. Here again Jansons's ability, even at a peak climax, to vary tensions makes this seem less vulgar than it can be, and without any diminution of power. This Manfred recording makes a fitting conclusion to an outstanding series. I hope that Chandos will now think of repackaging all seven discs as a complete set. It would certainly be my first choice of any.'

Edward Greenfield

I think the above critique pretty well describes a marvellous recording of a superb work.
I don't deny that there are superb recordings of it. But you believe that it makes more of Byron's work than Schumann does and that just isn't the case. And as to its length (48 min.?) and Schumann's (just the overture)is circa 13 min....hardly anything gets more compact and intense than that! It's like comparing Beethoven's 5th with Bruckner's 5th......

Well, Pizza----'tell ya what. Since you're so passionate about this work I'll go and give it another couple of listens. Years ago I had an EVEREST recording (Sir Adrian Boult?!) and that one didn't do it for me then either.

But I'm so willing to put an end to this trivial bickering that I WILL LISTEN to that work (symphony or tone-poem in 4 mvts) on Thursday evening at 1800 hours, MET. (I think your original posting was intended to get a rise out of me and I fell for it :) ...)!!

Thanks for all the info....and my apologies to any Tschaikowskyian whose tastes I might inadvertently have insulted. And maybe---just maybe---we can get this thread back on track with Brahms (yes, I've sinned, too!)

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

Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:54 am

Jack and Pizza

Certainly no WWIII. Not at all.

I agree with all who have said that current popularity is a lousy measure of greatness. I only referred to it because popularity had been mentioned.

I really don't know how to get a solid grip on this concept of relative "greatness", except possibly by asking how much society would pay to retain all the works of each composer rather than have them completely destroyed. If we were discussing paintings a rough estimate could be made (for example, all Van Goghs worth $X million, all Rembrandts worth $Y million), and thus each artist be ranked accordingly. But there is no simple way of applying this idea to composers of classical music, except in a highly conceptual manner: what would a music publisher pay in a competitive bid if he were able to buy a monopoly supply of all the works/performances of each main composer (assuming all existing material was confiscated)?

I would agree that Tchaikovsky is more accessible than Schumann, across the range as a whole. Given the normal "learning curve", Schumann fans will tend to be older. The trouble is that, by the time one gets to Schumann, earlier favourites can seem less sophisticated overall. I know exactly what Jack is saying and agree with him 100%. I was trying to be wholly objective, however, in saying that, given the average degree of accessibility that people strive for, Tchaikovsky offers a good mix. He produced solid "romantic" music with a lot of fantastic melody, much of which is very cleverly put together. The ballets are exceptional works.

If my experience is anything to go by, lists of favourite composers are highly age-specific. I rated Tchaikovsky at No 7 in my personal top 10 list, and Schumann at No 3. Some 10-20 years ago my list would have been different, and to be honest Schumann would not have been in the top 10. Thus, you clearly can't draw any conclusions about popularity from self-selecting, and often very small samples of people who come on to boards like this. Not that their opinions are not worth listening to. On the contrary, those expressed here recently are very good indeed, and one can learn a great deal. Thanks.


Saphire

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:11 am

A very fine and balanced posting, Saphire. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

(Sigh!) Sometimes I wish I possessed more of Karl Henning's democratic leanings in musical subjects. :cry:

Best of listening to you,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

karlhenning
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Contact:

Post by karlhenning » Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:26 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Seriously, though Karl and Saphire et al.....some works of his just don't "do it" for me anymore . . . .
Fair enough, Jack. Only don't seal the box; all our ears change over time, and maybe you will be able to return to Tchaikovsky after a 'drying-out' period.
Certainly the general populace is going to gravitate more to Tschaikowsky than to Schumann, who doesn't give up his secrets quite so readily.
That seems a false dichotomy to me. I can't see anyone from this cultural remove finding Schumann's musical language difficult in the least.
And no one knew this better than P.I.T. himself, who regarded Schumann as the greatest musical genius since Beethoven.
And that's fine, but it doesn't mean that Tchaikovsky himself was chopped liver. I find it perfectly healthy that a composer have an intense adoration for the work of other composers; what is unhealthy is a composer finding greatness only in his own works 8)
Still, I try to be 90% objective on this site....and reserve 10% for my personal opinions. Regarding Schumann's high masterpiece percentage, it's true: yep, he's got the percentage record (unless you believe those who want to tear down the late works like the Mass, op. 147 and the Requiem, opus 148---which I know you don't).
Although I have not actually listened to it for at least three or four months, this morning while riding the bus into Boston, what did I discover quietly singing in my inner ear? The 'Love Theme' from the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture -- Not as it appears in the exposition (lovely though that is), but in its exquisitely tragic modification in the Coda. Not only is it an ingenious 'harmonization' of Shakespeare's general story-line with sonata-allegro design, not only is it a musically perfect conclusion to the piece, it is achingly beautiful, and any composer would give his eyeteeth to be able to write such a moment. And! such a moment is the result of the musical shape of the whole piece -- form and content -- which built up to that moment.

This is one example, Jack, of why I am not going to stand idly aside while you shove Tchaikovsky to the back of the bus in comparison to 127 opus numbers of Schumann -- not collectively, not any of them individually :-)

I mean, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more and more Schumann, but I've never run across a drop-dead gorgeous passage like that in Schumann. Mind you, I am not going to dismiss Schumann because his musical outlook, manner and oeuvre are otherwise than Tchaikovsky's; but I won't bear the sight of Pyotr Ilyich being at the business end of such a blunt instrument, either. And no, I do not for an instant believe that the power and the intensity of that achievement of Tchaikovsky's means that he was "less profound" than Schumann (or any other composer).

Especially, as someone who has recently (and to his surprise) come to enjoy the charms and other merits of the four Schumann symphonies, it is hard for me to see how someone who is ready to praise the Schumann symphonies, could find any great fault in Tchaikovsky's early symphonies.

There: pre-coffee morning rant over :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:59 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Seriously, though Karl and Saphire et al.....some works of his just don't "do it" for me anymore . . . .
Fair enough, Jack. Only don't seal the box; all our ears change over time, and maybe you will be able to return to Tchaikovsky after a 'drying-out' period.
Certainly the general populace is going to gravitate more to Tschaikowsky than to Schumann, who doesn't give up his secrets quite so readily.
That seems a false dichotomy to me. I can't see anyone from this cultural remove finding Schumann's musical language difficult in the least.
And no one knew this better than P.I.T. himself, who regarded Schumann as the greatest musical genius since Beethoven.
And that's fine, but it doesn't mean that Tchaikovsky himself was chopped liver. I find it perfectly healthy that a composer have an intense adoration for the work of other composers; what is unhealthy is a composer finding greatness only in his own works 8)
Still, I try to be 90% objective on this site....and reserve 10% for my personal opinions. Regarding Schumann's high masterpiece percentage, it's true: yep, he's got the percentage record (unless you believe those who want to tear down the late works like the Mass, op. 147 and the Requiem, opus 148---which I know you don't).
Although I have not actually listened to it for at least three or four months, this morning while riding the bus into Boston, what did I discover quietly singing in my inner ear? The 'Love Theme' from the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy-Overture -- Not as it appears in the exposition (lovely though that is), but in its exquisitely tragic modification in the Coda. Not only is it an ingenious 'harmonization' of Shakespeare's general story-line with sonata-allegro design, not only is it a musically perfect conclusion to the piece, it is achingly beautiful, and any composer would give his eyeteeth to be able to write such a moment. And! such a moment is the result of the musical shape of the whole piece -- form and content -- which built up to that moment.

This is one example, Jack, of why I am not going to stand idly aside while you shove Tchaikovsky to the back of the bus in comparison to 127 opus numbers of Schumann -- not collectively, not any of them individually :-)

I mean, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more and more Schumann, but I've never run across a drop-dead gorgeous passage like that in Schumann. Mind you, I am not going to dismiss Schumann because his musical outlook, manner and oeuvre are otherwise than Tchaikovsky's; but I won't bear the sight of Pyotr Ilyich being at the business end of such a blunt instrument, either. And no, I do not for an instant believe that the power and the intensity of that achievement of Tchaikovsky's means that he was "less profound" than Schumann (or any other composer).

Especially, as someone who has recently (and to his surprise) come to enjoy the charms and other merits of the four Schumann symphonies, it is hard for me to see how someone who is ready to praise the Schumann symphonies, could find any great fault in Tchaikovsky's early symphonies.

There: pre-coffee morning rant over :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Whoh---now, put three cubes in your cup, Karl. I LOVE the "Romeo and Juliet", the Violin Concerto, Variations on a Rococo Theme, all the symphonies (esp. the last three), 1st Piano Concerto, the ballets, the Serenade in C, etc., etc.

And these last symphonies surely are in the late 19th-century league with the best of Bruckner, the four of Brahms, the Franck and the last three of Dvorâk in inventiveness, individuality and emotional power (did I forget anyone? :roll: ).

I believe I was referring to some other, more decorative and less convincingly felt. :D

Just based on certain comments on this site it isn't hard to see that some posters are not "hearing" Schumann as he should be heard. But that's snother topic. Still I abide by the observation that Schumann's music is generally more difficult to understand "properly"; and it's never splashy, bombastic or cheap. "Most" of Tschaikowsky isn't either.....a lot of Liszt is but I like him, too.

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

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