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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:15 am 
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In no particular order:

Light vocal music
Most of Mozart's piano music (give me Haydn any day)
The Ode to Joy
Most minimalism
Lang Lang's mannerisms (and a fair bit of his playing)
Alfred Brendel playing Liszt (bad tone, and a curiously pedantic attitude to textual fidelity for someone who is prone to simplifying the score - his scales (sic) in the 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody are particularly amusing)
In particular Alfred Brendel playing the Wagner-Liszt Isolde's Liebestod which is imo musically appalling.
Unadventurous concert programmes: do they really believe concertgoers think "YES! I must go and hear x for the 736th time"?


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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Yes, Richard, there is a lot of shyness around here. I don't know why...

Andrew, what makes Haydn much more appealing than Mozart?
I'm curious because I have not played hardly any Haydn and I wonder what I am missing. Actually, I wouldn't even know where to start.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 11:50 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Andrew, what makes Haydn much more appealing than Mozart?
I'm curious because I have not played hardly any Haydn and I wonder what I am missing. Actually, I wouldn't even know where to start.


Look at the F min variations. Terrific piece.

I find Mozart sonatas have so "much composition by numbers". There's only so many Alberti basses, repeated I V I V cadences, scale figures that I can take. Plus I find Haydn more adventurous rhythmically and he has a sense of humour.

Must slightly qualify/clarify one of my previous statements. I don't find the Wagner-Liszt Isolde's Liebestod musically appalling (in fact it's my favourite transcription), I find Brendel's recordings of it quite atrocious.


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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 2:44 am 
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andrew wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Andrew, what makes Haydn much more appealing than Mozart?
I'm curious because I have not played hardly any Haydn and I wonder what I am missing. Actually, I wouldn't even know where to start.


Look at the F min variations. Terrific piece.


Ok, thank you, I'll look at it as soon as I can.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 2:34 pm 
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I agree with you in part, in that I find Hadn quite different from Mozart and also being usually quite fun. I really need to dust my two volumes of Haydn. I also find his symphonies far superior to Mozart's.

Do investigate him, Monica: you will be pleasantly surprised.

The fact (at least I) one does not hear of Brendel playing that repertoire says worlds.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:15 pm 
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You know...I always felt that Mozart was the humorous one, but probably that's because I haven't listened to or played that much Haydn. Now that I think about it, there is that story about Haydn, when he was young, cutting off the ponytail of the boy sitting in front of him at choir practice. That tickles my funny bone...

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:36 pm 
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Apart from the overtly humorous pieces (A Musical Joke) I notice no humour in his compositions. Wit, yes, in the way he surprises by doing the unexpected (a socondary theme in the minor, for example). Haydn always has a joke to offer, such as a lyric melody played by the double-bass. Add to that that Mozart's best music is not in his sonatas or symphonies, but in his concerti. It is in the latter that his genius shines through. Out of his 19 sonatas how many are really rewarding to play? I would say 4 or 5.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 5:28 pm 
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I'm probably thinking about the way Mozart talks in his letters - that's why I think he is humorous. I know that has nothing to do with his music being humorous. Although, I probably do need music-humor lessons. Like besides a double bass playing a melody, which yes is a little funny, what else would be funny? I don't recall listening to something and saying to myself, "oh, haha that was so funny..."

Can anyone give me more examples of humor in music? (and I don't mean Victor Borge type of stuff, I mean serious classical stuff...err..serious funny classical stuff) (does that make sense...?)

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:10 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Apart from the overtly humorous pieces (A Musical Joke) I notice no humour in his compositions. Wit, yes, in the way he surprises by doing the unexpected (a socondary theme in the minor, for example).

I'm not sure I agree to that. Depends on one's sense of humor, probably.

richard66 wrote:
Haydn always has a joke to offer, such as a lyric melody played by the double-bass.

I don't know nearly enough of and about Haydn but from what I heard/read it would seem that he is the more quirky and humorous of the two. Does that make him the better composer ? I am not sure. If we need to compare the two at at all, that is. IMHO, humor in music is overrated. Personally I am a bit allergic to composers (well, people in general) who desire to be funny all the time. Goes with my morose character I guess :P

But much of the best music is not particularly jocular. Think of Brahms, Bach, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Mahler, Tchaikovsky .... Given the choice I'd pick a serious work every time.

richard66 wrote:
Add to that that Mozart's best music is not in his sonatas or symphonies, but in his concerti. It is in the latter that his genius shines through. Out of his 19 sonatas how many are really rewarding to play? I would say 4 or 5.

Did you try them all ?

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 2:58 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Can anyone give me more examples of humor in music? (and I don't mean Victor Borge type of stuff, I mean serious classical stuff...err..serious funny classical stuff) (does that make sense...?)

The first thing that comes to my mind is Dohnanyi's Variations on a Nursery Theme for piano and orchestra. There are moments of humour in some of Shostakovich's preludes op 34, I'm thinking especially of the A flat and D flat preludes (although there are other pieces in the same set that are very black). And the fugue theme from his prelude and fugue in D. There's the ending of Rachmaninoff's Paganini rhapsody. Some of Brahms's Hungarian dances; I particularly like number 7. Debussy's Minstrels (preludes book 1 no. 12). The ending of Beethoven's op. 14 no. 2 second movement (not subtle, but I'm sure it was meant humourously). The Miniatures op. 62 of Theodore Kirchner. Poulenc's piano pieces are full of humour, although we don't hear them played very often (I remember Pascal Rogé giving a hilarious performance of the Soireés de Nazelles).

And that's just solo piano music, not even getting into chamber or orchestral repertoire. If you investigate lieder and other art song, you'll find plenty of music based on not-so-serious texts. And of course opera.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 4:38 am 
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Thank you for those suggestions, Alexander. I listened to three of them just now but I still don't get this humor thing. I can't correlate music and humor. I understand and often say the words, "neat", "cute", or "cool" when I hear something in a certain piece of music that I think is particularly interesting - like when a composer quotes himself or another composer, or uses neat harmonies, etc... but I never think something in music is funny. That's just not an emotion that works with classical music, in my mind anyway. I'm probably defective and have too weird a sense of humor.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 4:44 pm 
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techneut wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Apart from the overtly humorous pieces (A Musical Joke) I notice no humour in his compositions. Wit, yes, in the way he surprises by doing the unexpected (a socondary theme in the minor, for example).

I'm not sure I agree to that. Depends on one's sense of humor, probably.


By humour I do not mean the braying of asses (the sort of joke R. Strauss is apt to make - Look at his Burleske, where, to my ears at least, the piano imitates a horse neighing). On reflection I might agree with you: the Rondo of Sonata K 545 (I hope I have the number right) has its humour. And the Piano Concerto No. 9; Knowing that in Paris the audience expected a long orchestral introduction what does Mozart do? He has the piano come in at the very start. This is his first great piano concerto. Not for this joke, but for the lovely second movement.

techneut wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Haydn always has a joke to offer, such as a lyric melody played by the double-bass.

I don't know nearly enough of and about Haydn but from what I heard/read it would seem that he is the more quirky and humorous of the two. Does that make him the better composer ? I am not sure. If we need to compare the two at at all, that is. IMHO, humor in music is overrated. Personally I am a bit allergic to composers (well, people in general) who desire to be funny all the time. Goes with my morose character I guess :P


People trying to be funny are usually anything but. The funniest ones are the ones who are so by nature. Is Haydn the better composer? Maybe if one examines the symphonies, but not if one examines the concerti. I have never really bothered about this, really. I enjoy both and both in their individual fields.

techneut wrote:
But much of the best music is not particularly jocular. Think of Brahms, Bach, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Mahler, Tchaikovsky .... Given the choice I'd pick a serious work every time.


Mahler is not always serious. Indeed, at times his songs are humorous; one of them includes... the braying of an ass! The Scherzo of his 1st symphony is almost ridiculous. Brahms has his Academic Festival Overture, Bach has the Coffee Cantata...

techneut wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Add to that that Mozart's best music is not in his sonatas or symphonies, but in his concerti. It is in the latter that his genius shines through. Out of his 19 sonatas how many are really rewarding to play? I would say 4 or 5.

Did you try them all ?


I have not played them all, but I have certainly listened to them. I find the earlier ones (in the K 200s) a bit long-winded. Some of the ones in the K 300s are good. The one in Bb I find particularly attractive and will even say it is a masterpiece. The 3rd movement has all the atributes of a movement from a concerto but without the orchestra.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:17 pm 
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hanysz wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Can anyone give me more examples of humor in music? (and I don't mean Victor Borge type of stuff, I mean serious classical stuff...err..serious funny classical stuff) (does that make sense...?)

The first thing that comes to my mind is Dohnanyi's Variations on a Nursery Theme for piano and orchestra. There are moments of humour in some of Shostakovich's preludes op 34, I'm thinking especially of the A flat and D flat preludes (although there are other pieces in the same set that are very black). And the fugue theme from his prelude and fugue in D. There's the ending of Rachmaninoff's Paganini rhapsody. Some of Brahms's Hungarian dances; I particularly like number 7. Debussy's Minstrels (preludes book 1 no. 12). The ending of Beethoven's op. 14 no. 2 second movement (not subtle, but I'm sure it was meant humourously). The Miniatures op. 62 of Theodore Kirchner. Poulenc's piano pieces are full of humour, although we don't hear them played very often (I remember Pascal Rogé giving a hilarious performance of the Soireés de Nazelles).

And that's just solo piano music, not even getting into chamber or orchestral repertoire. If you investigate lieder and other art song, you'll find plenty of music based on not-so-serious texts. And of course opera.


The great letting down of the Dohnanyi is the title. It would be even more effective if he had called the piece "variations on a popular theme. It would certainly be much more surprising, after all that Wagnerinan high drama have Twinkle Twinkle Little Star come in!

I like the Scherzo of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. It caught me, what with Scherzo-trio-scherzo-trio-scherzo-trio... But STOP! WILL YOU? And he does: He uses the last trio's first bars as a coda.

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:20 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Thank you for those suggestions, Alexander. I listened to three of them just now but I still don't get this humor thing. I can't correlate music and humor. I understand and often say the words, "neat", "cute", or "cool" when I hear something in a certain piece of music that I think is particularly interesting - like when a composer quotes himself or another composer, or uses neat harmonies, etc... but I never think something in music is funny. That's just not an emotion that works with classical music, in my mind anyway. I'm probably defective and have too weird a sense of humor.


You know, Monica, this is the way I felt once when you told me a certain piece had to sound seductive.

Have you listened to the second movement of Haydn's Surprise Symphony (No. 94)? All pp and then... the timpani go BANG. FF. It woke me up once! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Pet hates
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:36 pm 
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Having heard live the Tchaikovsky Concerto No1 TWICE last night during the finals of the Fulbright Concerto Competition, I can unequivocally add that I find the dramatic tempo change in the slow movement of above to be most humerous. Anybody else think the same? (get out your recordings and listen).

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