Author Topic: Unpopular Opinions  (Read 204370 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2500 on: January 17, 2018, 06:02:53 AM »
This tells more about Spitta and the others than about Telemann or Bach.


Yes.

Quote
[...] And ironically enough, it's only after Telemann gave up his appointment as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and Graupner declined as well, that the post went to Bach.

Of course, this may say as much about non-musical factors as about the musical.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14776
  • Mozart painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2501 on: January 17, 2018, 06:15:21 AM »
1. That Telemann actually wrote some works which are praiseworthy.  It does not follow that all that Telemann wrote is praiseworthy (after all, we are allowing that not all that Bach wrote is “a masterpiece”). 

In all earnest, I don't know what "praiseworthy" means strictly musicologically speking. My personal criterion for deciding praiseworthiness is my liking the music of composer X at the first hearing, resulting in wanting to hear, and actively searching, new recordings of it. On all counts Telemann is highly praiseworthy in my book. Now certainly, the fact that I like it a lot is in itself no indication that it's really, objectively praiseworthy, just as the fact that he wrote tons of music is in itself no indication of a lack of quality.

Quote
2. That listeners, lay and professional, can fall into lazy mental traps (“If Bach wrote it, it’s great; if Telemann wrote it, it’s rubbish”).  This is true, and the detection of the fallacies is a worthy and necessary pursuit.

Yes.

Of course, this may say as much about non-musical factors as about the musical.

And yes again.
The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it. - Mozart

Offline San Antone

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6100
    • Highway 80 Stories
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach, Brahms, Debussy
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2502 on: January 17, 2018, 06:35:54 AM »
I'll take genuinely facile music over contrivedly (is this a word?) profound one any day and night.

As for Telemann, I am reminded of that musicologist, whose name I can't remember right now, who vituperated against the low quality of some of his cantatas as opposed to some masterpieces of Bach, only to learn years later that the latter were wrongly attributed to Bach: they had been actually composed by Telemann.

I've been reading John Eliot Gardiner's book on Bach and one thing (among many others) that I learned was that Telemann was the "great composer" of the period when Bach was getting established.  Bach admired Telemann.  His reputation has suffered in our own era, and I am not convinced that the current appraisal of Telemann is correct.

TD

Re: Mahler v. Strauss - I couldn't care less; I don't listen to either one.

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2503 on: January 17, 2018, 08:18:51 AM »
More of my opinion about Telemann, which may or may not be popular:

Three of the dullest musical performances I experienced from 1981 to 1998, were pieces by Telemann.  I think this is about as objective a fact as may arise in the world of music.

Does that absolutely mean that Telemann is uniformly mediocre?  No.  Possibly, it may only mean that these were three bad performances;  this, however, would strike me as strange in concerts which were otherwise polished and thoroughly engaging.  Strange;  but in theory, not impossible.

Some listeners may be inclined, notwithstanding those data points, to keep giving Telemann a try, and why should they not?  Myself, I had other musical fish to fry.  I had formed a low opinion of Telemann, and it was not mere prejudice.

Jump to January 2014, and one of the eight CDs in the Pierre Hantaï box is Telemann, and the music is very good.  Also, on the concert which was the début of the harpsichord which Maria painted, one of the pieces was a Telemann recorder/tranverse flute double concerto, which is by a large margin my most positive live experience of the composer’s work – not a life-changing musical experience (and yes, I have had those with Baroque music, too) but good, & solid.

So, yes, I now have experience of Telemann’s best side.

Furthermore, I am in substantial sympathy with the point that it is no use thinking of the Baroque era as The Great J.S. Bach (and, aye, he was Great), but everyone else was a mediocrity.  My substantial listening to Monteverdi, D. Scarlatti, F. & L. Couperin, Frescobaldi inoculates me from that hero-obsession.

Yet, a lot of Telemann strikes me as formulaic (possibly strengthening the Jn Rutter parallel);  so I am artistically disinclined to feel that Telemann has been treated with gross unfairness.  Some unfairness, all right;  but not gross unfairness.

So, what of those first performances of Telemann, which left so powerfully negative an impression?  Could they have been great pieces, indifferently performed?

Consider two scripts:  Hamlet, and an episode of Three’s Company.  Consider an uninspired staging of that Three’s Company episode:  you don’t come away with the idea that, This is a great script, it just needs better execution.  Where the greatness of Hamlet will come through even a modest community stage production.

The Hamlet is JS Bach.  I don’t even think (though I am open to being shown otherwise) that the best of Telemann is Hamlet.  But a large body of workaday Telemann is (IMO) Three’s Company.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2504 on: January 17, 2018, 09:19:53 AM »
Are you implying that you think a "Three's Company" script has any redeeming value?  ???

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2505 on: January 17, 2018, 09:29:11 AM »
Are you implying that you think a "Three's Company" script has any redeeming value?  ???

I plucked a name out of a hat, for purposes of discussion.

I am not prepared to argue for the merits of Three’s Company  8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2506 on: January 17, 2018, 09:50:22 AM »
I'm not sure what we are to learn from an analogy involving Telemann and something you "picked out of a hat."

I like Telemann. Like Handel, he wrote imitative counterpoint that is skillfully crafted and immediately appealing. Bach is a special case, since non-stereotypical counterpoint apparently poured out of him like water, counterpoint that reveals more secrets every time you listen to it. I'm glad to have all of it available.

Offline Pat B

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2019
  • A=430
  • Location: USA
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2507 on: January 17, 2018, 10:43:47 AM »
This tells more about Spitta and the others than about Telemann or Bach. The latter held the former in high enough esteem as to make him the godfather of his son Carl Philip Emmanuel. And ironically enough, it's only after Telemann gave up his appointment as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and Graupner declined as well, that the post went to Bach.

I will stipulate (not because of the “C.P.E.’s godfather” business) that Bach respected Telemann musically, not necessarily as an equal. But that does not obligate a modern listener to love or even enjoy Telemann’s music.

In all earnest, I don't know what "praiseworthy" means strictly musicologically speking. My personal criterion for deciding praiseworthiness is my liking the music of composer X at the first hearing, resulting in wanting to hear, and actively searching, new recordings of it. On all counts Telemann is highly praiseworthy in my book. Now certainly, the fact that I like it a lot is in itself no indication that it's really, objectively praiseworthy, just as the fact that he wrote tons of music is in itself no indication of a lack of quality.

I agree with all of this.

But for someone who does not share your enthusiasm for Telemann’s work, his prolificacy becomes an easy target. Same for Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart…

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14776
  • Mozart painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2508 on: January 17, 2018, 10:46:06 AM »
More of my opinion about Telemann, which may or may not be popular: [etc]

Thank you for this detailed and illuminating post. It enforces my conviction that our personal experience (and more general, our whole personality, including a lot of extra-musical factors and parameters) is paramount for how we perceive music (or any other art, for that matter) and is the primary factor which determines our appreciation of it, or lack thereof. No amount of musicological objectivity --- assuming such a thing can really exist ---  can make us like or dislike anything; our likes and dislikes are utterly and irremediably personal, that is, subjective, post factum rationalization notwithstanding.

That being said, I submit for your consideration that it might be the case that Bach's music, although originally produced within and governed by the same aesthetics as that of Telemann, lends itself to an easier appropriation and valorization by a different aesthetics than that of the latter --- and that in this very appropriation and valorization various factors are involved which are oftenly ideological and not necessarily related to any objective assessment of the music itself. To link this to the discussion at hand (facile / facility vs profundity), it might be argued that this dichotomy was unknown to either Bach or Telemann and that the current musicological evaluation of their music operates under categories and assumptions established by philosophical Romanticism, ie under criteria that neither Bach nor Telemann would have acknowledged as legitimate, much less valid.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 10:56:35 AM by Florestan »
The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it. - Mozart

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14776
  • Mozart painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2509 on: January 17, 2018, 10:53:12 AM »
I will stipulate (not because of the “C.P.E.’s godfather” business) that Bach respected Telemann musically, not necessarily as an equal. But that does not obligate a modern listener to love or even enjoy Telemann’s music.

Nor did I claim it does.

Quote
But for someone who does not share your enthusiasm for Telemann’s work, his prolificacy becomes an easy target. Same for Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart…

I initially read "profligacy".  :D

Prolificacy can become an easy target only in an aesthetic / philosophical environment which is already biased against it. See my post above. In their own time, Telemann, Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart (and their contemporaries) were supposed and expected to be prolific --- it was simply part of their job. The notion of art for art's sake had not been conceived yet, let alone that of the solitary and misunderstood genius following only the dictates of his inner urges.
The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it. - Mozart

Offline mc ukrneal

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8523
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2510 on: January 17, 2018, 11:15:38 AM »
More of my opinion about Telemann, which may or may not be popular:

Three of the dullest musical performances I experienced from 1981 to 1998, were pieces by Telemann.  I think this is about as objective a fact as may arise in the world of music.

Does that absolutely mean that Telemann is uniformly mediocre?  No.  Possibly, it may only mean that these were three bad performances;  this, however, would strike me as strange in concerts which were otherwise polished and thoroughly engaging.  Strange;  but in theory, not impossible.

Some listeners may be inclined, notwithstanding those data points, to keep giving Telemann a try, and why should they not?  Myself, I had other musical fish to fry.  I had formed a low opinion of Telemann, and it was not mere prejudice.

Jump to January 2014, and one of the eight CDs in the Pierre Hantaï box is Telemann, and the music is very good.  Also, on the concert which was the début of the harpsichord which Maria painted, one of the pieces was a Telemann recorder/tranverse flute double concerto, which is by a large margin my most positive live experience of the composer’s work – not a life-changing musical experience (and yes, I have had those with Baroque music, too) but good, & solid.

So, yes, I now have experience of Telemann’s best side.

Furthermore, I am in substantial sympathy with the point that it is no use thinking of the Baroque era as The Great J.S. Bach (and, aye, he was Great), but everyone else was a mediocrity.  My substantial listening to Monteverdi, D. Scarlatti, F. & L. Couperin, Frescobaldi inoculates me from that hero-obsession.

Yet, a lot of Telemann strikes me as formulaic (possibly strengthening the Jn Rutter parallel);  so I am artistically disinclined to feel that Telemann has been treated with gross unfairness.  Some unfairness, all right;  but not gross unfairness.

So, what of those first performances of Telemann, which left so powerfully negative an impression?  Could they have been great pieces, indifferently performed?

Consider two scripts:  Hamlet, and an episode of Three’s Company.  Consider an uninspired staging of that Three’s Company episode:  you don’t come away with the idea that, This is a great script, it just needs better execution.  Where the greatness of Hamlet will come through even a modest community stage production.

The Hamlet is JS Bach.  I don’t even think (though I am open to being shown otherwise) that the best of Telemann is Hamlet.  But a large body of workaday Telemann is (IMO) Three’s Company.
I would suggest one other idea - you just were not in the right place (perhaps in life or musically or both) to take in the joys of his music. This is why I hesitate (for myself) to talk overly long about composers I dislike. After all, what we enjoy in art (and what we hear) can change over time. And it is not just a question of what we hear, but what aspects of music (in general or specifically) attract us. As our understanding and appreciation change, so too will how we hear the same piece of music (or the same composer).

You may find it interesting to learn that the greatest surprises in my life (musically speaking) were generally from the Baroque and Classical periods, despite my preferring music from the Romantic and post-romantic period. I think of Monteverdi (the first, and perhaps greatest musical surprise in my life), Scarlatti (the most recent), Biber, and Michael Haydn to name a few. But I heard Monteverdi for the first time in my second year of college. I sometimes wonder how I would have reacted 2-3 years earlier. I might not have been ready for those (glorious) sounds.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2511 on: January 17, 2018, 11:19:32 AM »
I would suggest one other idea - you just were not in the right place (perhaps in life or musically or both) to take in the joys of his music. This is why I hesitate (for myself) to talk overly long about composers I dislike. After all, what we enjoy in art (and what we hear) can change over time. And it is not just a question of what we hear, but what aspects of music (in general or specifically) attract us. As our understanding and appreciation change, so too will how we hear the same piece of music (or the same composer).

You may find it interesting to learn that the greatest surprises in my life (musically speaking) were generally from the Baroque and Classical periods, despite my preferring music from the Romantic and post-romantic period. I think of Monteverdi (the first, and perhaps greatest musical surprise in my life), Scarlatti (the most recent), Biber, and Michael Haydn to name a few. But I heard Monteverdi for the first time in my second year of college. I sometimes wonder how I would have reacted 2-3 years earlier. I might not have been ready for those (glorious) sounds.

It is a very good idea;  because the first time I listened to the Nielsen symphonies, and the Vaughan Williams symphonies, I wasn't at all attuned to them.

So, you may well be right.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14776
  • Mozart painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2512 on: January 17, 2018, 11:35:19 AM »
I would suggest one other idea - you just were not in the right place (perhaps in life or musically or both) to take in the joys of his music. This is why I hesitate (for myself) to talk overly long about composers I dislike. After all, what we enjoy in art (and what we hear) can change over time. And it is not just a question of what we hear, but what aspects of music (in general or specifically) attract us. As our understanding and appreciation change, so too will how we hear the same piece of music (or the same composer).

You may find it interesting to learn that the greatest surprises in my life (musically speaking) were generally from the Baroque and Classical periods, despite my preferring music from the Romantic and post-romantic period. I think of Monteverdi (the first, and perhaps greatest musical surprise in my life), Scarlatti (the most recent), Biber, and Michael Haydn to name a few. But I heard Monteverdi for the first time in my second year of college. I sometimes wonder how I would have reacted 2-3 years earlier. I might not have been ready for those (glorious) sounds.

Keeping in line with my previous post, I'd say that the frequently occuring experience of suddenly expanding our musical horizon in unexpected directions amounts to discovering the depths of our inner self, which are not always apparent even to us.  :D
The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it. - Mozart

Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2513 on: January 17, 2018, 11:37:03 AM »
I would suggest one other idea - you just were not in the right place (perhaps in life or musically or both) to take in the joys of his music. This is why I hesitate (for myself) to talk overly long about composers I dislike.

Certainly this is my experience.

Offline Madiel

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5821
    • A musical diary
  • Location: Canberra, Australia
  • Currently Listening to:
    Whatever's listed in my blog.
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2514 on: January 20, 2018, 11:18:52 PM »
Beauty tends to be harder to see whizzing by from a moving train.

I took some great, impressionistic photos of trees out of a speeding train once.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline 71 dB

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5747
  • I free-think, therefore I am free
    • Soundcloud
  • Location: Helsinki, Finland
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2515 on: January 21, 2018, 01:30:24 AM »
Telemann has always been a bit dull composer to me, but I was impressed by his cantata Du aber Daniel, gehe hin on Sony Vivarte. Anyway, I feel composers such as Fasch and Graupner should be talked more about, and Telemann less to achieve a balance.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14776
  • Mozart painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763-64
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2516 on: January 21, 2018, 01:46:40 AM »
Telemann has always been a bit dull composer to me, but I was impressed by his cantata Du aber Daniel, gehe hin on Sony Vivarte. Anyway, I feel composers such as Fasch and Graupner should be talked more about, and Telemann less to achieve a balance.

So typical! In order to promote composers one likes, composers one doesn't like must be demoted.
The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it. - Mozart

Offline 71 dB

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5747
  • I free-think, therefore I am free
    • Soundcloud
  • Location: Helsinki, Finland
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2517 on: January 21, 2018, 03:06:20 AM »
So typical! In order to promote composers one likes, composers one doesn't like must be demoted.

If you concentrate more on something, it's away from other things. It's math.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2518 on: January 21, 2018, 04:05:34 AM »
If you concentrate more on something, it's away from other things. It's math.

Culture isn't math.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 48061
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Unpopular Opinions
« Reply #2519 on: January 21, 2018, 04:06:10 AM »
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot