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Long term Gramophone reader, now ex

Discussion in 'classical' started by JOHN VAN BAVEL, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. neilmack

    neilmack pfm Member

    It would certainly make us appreciate proper music all the more.
  2. lennyw

    lennyw Still throwing Eephus pitches

    I came relatively late to Gramophone, paying attention only during my time in the record industry, and noting the decline in its sway on the CD-buying public, though Editor's Choices and Award winners almost always caused an uptick in sales.

    The longevity of Gramophone is something to be admired, and although I agree that I'd rather read a dry magazine like the former IRR, their adaptation to the "modern world" is probably the reason their still going.

    With regards to their seeming English-centred attention, this will be because of the influence of the record companies and artists' agencies. They have always (ca 30 years) had a huge influence on the magazines, and I wouldn't be surprised if market research has shown that this is what the bulk of their readership are interested in.

    Although I agree with this statement in principal, as a concert organiser I can't tell you what a negative effect this would have on ticket sales. This, along with having to pay performing rights (which over here can easily end up being 10% of the income of the concert for maybe 10mins music), would make it difficult to arrange concerts excepting those of the biggest names.
  3. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    That's quite depressing. Classical audiences only want the old and familiar museum pieces. The idea of new music is unthinkingly associated with 20th Century Avant-Garde which alienated classical music from its audience. Well done to Boulez, Schoenberg, etc. Good work chaps.
  4. lennyw

    lennyw Still throwing Eephus pitches

    Medtner and Scriabin are probably considered too modern, let alone Boulez and Schoenberg...
  5. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Nothing wrong with either of those two! Particularly as they opened the doors to so much that is being written today.

    The problem is that listening to new music takes effort and time, and of course, the filter of time hasn't sorted out what being written today is likely to stand the test of time.

    Personally, I find that expending that effort and time gives huge rewards. Whilst concert programmes may need to be biased to the comfortable favourites, we are very lucky in just how much contemporary music is recorded.
  6. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    For me the time and effort wrt 'new' things mainly means being willing to keep an ear out for them. However I'm more interested in 'new' in the sense of coming from a 'new to me' musical culture, etc, from some other place or time. My response then tends to be that I either like it, or not, without needing much effort in persisting.

    So from my POV I'd tend to say it might make sense for someone who likes, 'western' classical music to also try, say, some of the Indian subcontinent or far asian types of classical music rather than feeling bound to try Boulex... oops that was actually a typo, but I left it as it probably sums up my reactions to his work. 8=]
  7. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    That's the problem, isn't it. So much new music doesn't necessarily have instant appeal, it takes time to learn that new language and only then are we in a position to reliably condemn it as rubbish.

    It's a bit like people who decry Coronation Street. Ask them why they watch it if they don't like it and they retort that they don't watch it. To which the smart arse reply is "if you don't watch it how can you know it is rubbish"!

    Of course, Coronation Street is easier to get the hang of than Boulez!
  8. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    That's fine and true as a qualified generalisation. However Sturgeon's Rule (no, not her) still applies. The bulk of 'first performance' music on R3 generally vanishes afterwards without a trace, and no-one but the composer really misses it.

    And you don't need to decide something is 'rubbish' to decide that you'd rather spend your time listening to something else. The reality is that there is far more music out there to listen to than any of us with ever hear. Hence so far as I'm concerned I'm happy to put some 'new' works into the "Well I might come to like it but cannae be bothered when there is some much more 'new' music I can try and enjoy anyway."

    TBH I tended to agree with the old Hoffnung idea that some modern music in Europe was written using a slide rule. Technically brilliant in terms of mathematical sequences or according with a new academic theory of what 'music' is, but still boring as *music*.

    The attempt by Boulez and others to force music into the rigid formalism *they* decided must rule was a real turn-off for me.

    Ars Long Vita Brevis, or something like that. :)
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I have a feeling a lot of new listeners might approach things much like I did in coming in from a rock/avant garde background and actually finding stuff like Schoenberg, Webern, Gorecki, Reich, Riley, Nyman etc as the most accessible end. I kind of attacked classical music from both ends as I immediately loved Bach too. It is the stuff between him and the 20th century stuff that took more work! I'm still to this day not a huge symphony fan, my favourite works from the likes of Beethoven, Mozart etc tend to be the string quartets, piano works etc, but I am always finding more and more to like. I guess chamber music is far less of a stretch for a jazz fan! I don't listen to that much Radio 3 as my incoming CD stack tends to be so huge, but when I do randomly swtch the vintage Sony tuner on I'm usually impressed with what they are playing. I wish the Proms TV coverage was as diverse.
  10. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    There's something similar though with certain 'formulaic' music from the classical period, that can sound as if it's built upon a theme by applying rigid rules about how a piece should progress.

    As you say, there's far more music than any of us can ever hear in many lifetimes. I suspect most music is now forgotten for a reason - the problem being that there must also be a lot of it that doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

    Which reminds me, I must grab a listen to some of Robert Simpson's string quartets this weekend.
  11. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    IIRC someone wrote a Mozart algorithm that could just produce Morazt-ish music by the yard. One could do the same with Glass, Reich etc easily enough too I guess (especially Glass who had used all his tricks by the mid-80s IMHO).
  12. Bob McC

    Bob McC Living the life of Riley

    At the Mozart museum in Vienna there's a device whereby you throw a ball into your choice of a selection of holes.

    Each hole results in a line of different Mozart-ish music.
    You do this 5 times and then it plays back your piece to you.

    I am a regular attendee at classical music at the Bridgewater Hall, the RNCM, the Martin Harris centre and the deaf Institute.
    If one thing fills me with trepidation it is the words "world premier" on the programme.
    Not heard one yet that wasn't execrable.
  13. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    When I worked in Central Manchester in the early 80s I used to go to the Free Trade Hall quite often to listen to Halle concerts. One evening a guest conductor was about to play a Shostakovich symphony. There were two oldish ladies sat next to me, and one said to the other "it's always the same with him, making us listen to this modern rubbish".
  14. Richard C.

    Richard C. pfm Member

    I'm not sure I like "formulaic" but I have to admit that the term is apposite. Music of the Classical period very much was governed by well-established rules of composition and performance and so I suppose it is inevitable that from that matrix a certain uniformity of character would be determined. However, these rules allowed a lingua musica so that everyone could speak and understand in the medium. I am not a fan of Jimi Hendrix but this "universality" of language allows me to appreciate his "Hey Jude" as the harmonic progression is fundamentally classical and to be found in much of Bach, particularly his organ works.

    Modern music, on the other hand, seems to have eschewed the discipline of what has gone before and in an iconoclastic manner, produced unstructured (although disciples of the Second Viennese School doubtless would disagree) compositions which consequently are chaotic, unpleasant and devoid of merit in the view of one brought up in the ethos of classicism. So much of this modern genre is tripe, so it is little wonder that following a trumpeted world premier, the work mercifully fades into a well-deserved obscurity. The cognoscenti can see the emperor's new clothes for only so long.:eek:
  15. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Music is about interpretation and performance. Composition often involved basing the results of some form or structure or rules. But it is then the business of the performers to inject some life into the result.

    Thus Bach can sound like boring exercises, or be Jazz. The music often comes from what *isn't* explicitly written on the sheet.

    That's why I personally prefer Brendel for Schubert, Uchida for Mozart, and Barenboim for Beethoven. *And* why I can enjoy Bach's keyboard works played by Hewitt on a modern piano, Ruzickova on harpsichord, and as a group by Jacques Loussier. :)
  16. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Obviously not to your taste then; which is quite reasonable. What I don't get is how you can dismiss as tripe something don't appear to have much understanding or appreciation of. Time, and those who like and take an interest in such music will inevitably sort out the great from the also rans.

    Take Thomas Adès. His First string quartet, composed in 1994 has already been recorded four times that I know of. I doubt if this would have happened if it was considered tripe. A wonderful work, BTW, for those of an enquiring an open mind although even the aurally blinkered might enjoy the sixth movement ;).
  17. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Interesting post and very much my experience of visitors here. Those, mostly older people with at least some grounding in the classics simply don't want to listen to anything "modern". It's tuneless rubbish they say. They may be right about the tuneless but a hummable tune is not necessarily a prerequsite for great music. Without the distraction of the obvious tune our minds are directed to the colour, soul and energy of the music.

    Those, mostly younger visitors who know little of the classical and romantic composers are much more receptive to modern music. Perhaps they are freer to enjoy the sound without being held back by a view of what "classical/serious" music should be about.

    There's nothing wrong in turning back to the museum of music where so much greatness lies but it is such a shame not to step outside and listen to the extraordinary sounds of composers searching for the brave new horizons.

    As with learning any language it takes time and effort, but the more you listen to, the more sense other works make and the easier it becomes. I find the rewards are great. I won't be abbandoning the string quartets of Beethoven and Shostakovich, but enjoying them all the more from the perspective of Webern, Thomas Adès, George Crumb, Robert Simpson et al.
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The tune thing, but in reverse, was/is my stumbling block with a fair bit of classic/romantic stuff, i.e the 'tune goes up, tune comes down, tune lands exactly where one expects it to and avoids anything interesting along the way' thing. A lot just kind of sounds like scales with little counterpoint or polyphony, and certainly no dissonance. It resides 100% in the 'safe zone'. I love Bach as there is always a kind of jazz counterpoint occurring along with some serious maths, that stuff really is genius. Something like Reich Music For 18 Musicians, Glass Einstein On The Beach or whatever actually has way more of interest going on to my ears than a typical Mozart piano concerto. By saying that I could listen to Chopin solo piano works all day, that is amazing stuff too. I find the 2nd Viennese School serial stuff fascinating as it imposes somewhat odd and arbitrary rules on composition that can only really be viewed as a straight-jacket, yet somehow so much of it sounds 'right' in ways I can't really articulate. Webern's works for strings being especially good.
  19. Richard C.

    Richard C. pfm Member

    The recent posts have been quite provoking.

    I did say that "much of this modern genre is tripe" and I do feel this to be the case. However, it does not necessarily follow from this that all modern stuff is of this dire quality - clearly, there are exceptions. Perhaps my lingua musica is not sufficiently developed to encompass anything much beyond the Romantics, thus limiting my ability to stray into newer territories. Yes, unashamedly I am old (perhaps less adventurous as a consequence) and I do have a grounding in the Classics (MusB, ARCO). I'm probably fairly typical of the type but I don't think that has to inhibit me from embracing modern compositions of demonstrable merit - I was playing Garth Edmundson's Von Himmel Hoch in church earlier this evening. Nevertheless, I suppose I should admit to a natural reluctance in this respect; when I read of Tony's "Einstein on the Beach", I thought "I've never heard this but am quite sure I should prefer Molly on the Shore". Not an unnatural reaction since I prefer Grainger to Glass.

    Of course, to my acknowledged dislike of the 2nd Viennese School, to make matters worse, there is a particular element of the 1st Viennese School for which I have little affection but I don't want to stir up a hornet's nest by mentioning Mozart . . . . .;)
  20. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Rereading my post above I probably come over as somewhat anti-Mozart, that isn't really true. I was spinning some of his later string quartets earlier this evening and thoroughly enjoying them. Everything has its value, place and context. The other thing that needs to be pointed out is the "modern" stuff I cite is anything but; the 2nd Viennese School is getting on for a century ago now and the better Glass, Reich, Riley, Stockhausen, Cage etc works date back to the 60s or 70s, i.e. are nearly as old as I am!

    PS I have a feeling I'm actually quite out of date/old school music wise as the jazz I like is the hard-bop and free stuff through to early fusion, my favourite art is abstract impressionism, though I'm rather more in touch with rock, pop, electronca etc. I'm not even really sure where modern classical music is right now! I certainly haven't heard anything of late that I felt challenged or redefined anything the way the stuff I mention certainly did, or anything I felt I needed to rush out and buy. My classical buying of late is mainly of the whole world of stuff that resides in between Bach and the 20th century, i.e. the actual classical stuff!

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