Tuesday 1 April 2008

Doors, they be a squeaking

Radio 3 has just started to play 'orrible music.

Having just enjoyed one of the Leonora Overtures (the one with that has lots of Florestan's beginning of Act II stuff and the trumpet fanfare, I don't know which one, why did he have to write so many overtures to just the one opera?) and then a slightly flat, to my ear, performance of the F major Romance, a soprano warbles with lots of awful string glissandi.

Rest assured, dear reader, unless it has a good tune, or some other deeply redeeming feature like a cracking good rhythm it's not good music. I'm sure it has lots of very interesting organising features and set theory analysis would explain it all, but it sounds awful.

Poor BBCSO, fancy having to practise this. Still thay have a lot of this sort of thing to play.

Modernist music; good for writing essays about, rubbish to play and listen to.
Modern Liturgical music; rubbish for writing essays about, rubbish to pray and listen to.

Whoops and applause greet the conclusion. A UK premiere.

Beethoven 7 to end. A proper symphony. Tovey said the odd numbered Beethoven symphonies were best and he was right.


LizzieD said...

I'm so glad you said this, I usually turn radio 3 off when the "bing plop splurge"- type music comes on, berating myself all the while for not understanding it!! But I'd say the same for Modernist art & (architecture) if it don't look good, it ain't worth looking at, no matter how many clever essays you can write about it!! My most depressing art experience was entering the Mark Rothko room at the Tate, I felt immediately depressed, and suicidal. Then I found out the guy who painted the pics had actually committed suicide! No wonder. No, I tell a lie (I blotted this one from my memory) I visited that power station they've turned into an art gallery, with a friend recently, and I couldn't get past the exhibits quickly enough, I felt physically sick - there was absolutely nothing there worth looking at!

leutgeb said...

I like quite a lot of 20thC music, but some of it is awful and R3 have a few people they keep playing. Some are wonderful and some are not.

Last night was particularly bad.
Glad artists feel the same about some of their stuff.

What's wrong with creating beautiful things? Seems that
people don't believe that anything is totally beautiful and totally true and therefore you can't aspire to create such a thing and maybe if you did it would just be your idea and not a for everyone anyway.

I'm sure that's why so much modern music is so depressing and we can blame the Enlightenment for it being overly intellectual.

End of rant. Just been to an organ recital with a friend and it was most tuneful and very sensitive choices of stops, we felt. Or to quote my friend, 'Lovely registration.'

Anonymous said...

my best friend from since we were seven years old is now a trendy and critically acclaimed etc etc composer (assoc with the BBC and all sorts). But there're no choons :-(

Anonymous said...

There are, however, electric bassoons, which makes up for a lot!

leutgeb said...

Oh you should have said. Electric bassoons.

I met someone who designed and built a 'logical' bassoon and contra. The keys work by elctro magnetisim and it therefore has to be plugged in.

Both instruments could be characters on Dr Who. Did cause a surprised reaction from a conductor, as let's face it ww sitting centrally in the orch and tend to be a long way from power sockets.

Is your friend James MacMillan?
I like his stuff lots and went to his Mass in 2000 at Westiminster Cathedral. Might go to the St John Passion when it gets premiered in London. He also studied with John Casken who I also like and who was my tutor at Durham. Didn't we have this exchange before?

So no, I wasn't trying to slate all non tonal music, especially not Scottish ones.

I can refine my rant with respect to choons, but vocal music without such is tricky.

Anonymous said...

no no not J McM - she's my age, we were in the same year at school and everyfink (in fact, the only reason I became even the excuse for a musicain I was, was because she wanted to learn the flute and was nervous fo going by herslef to see the woodwind teacher, so I went with her, and he said "come on, have a shot too" - she couldn't get a noise out of the flute head, but liked the clarinet, and I thought it tickled but made a lot of noise on the flute, so thought I'd try it. Beginning of the end, as they say! she became famous and I am an amateur EFL teacher ...)

Anonymous said...

james Mc is, oh, dvorak, tunewise, next to my chum's stuff.

leutgeb said...

Oops, James MacM is forever young as he was when I was a student. Now he's um a bit older.

Funny how you end up with different instruments.

When I went to secondary school, they had a clarinet or a horn. I thought the horn was a bit unusual and went for it. Never thought about which one was easier to carry etc...

Intrigued by your description of your friend's music.