Author Topic: The Worst Last!  (Read 1084 times)

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Offline Baron Scarpia

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The Worst Last!
« on: March 29, 2018, 02:07:48 PM »
Biggest drop in quality for a last symphony.

For me, no question, Nielsen.

(I was put up to this. :))

Online jessop

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 02:23:05 PM »
Biggest drop in quality for a last symphony.

For me, no question, Nielsen.

(I was put up to this. :))


Interesting. Nielson's 6th is the only one of his which I have found myself constantly coming back to. What do you not like about it?

I'm gonna mention probably Philip Glass or Schnittke wrote far more interesting earlier symphonies than later ones. However, the former's 8th symphony is pretty fun to listen to.

Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 02:31:09 PM »
Interesting. Nielson's 6th is the only one of his which I have found myself constantly coming back to. What do you not like about it?

That the intense style of the middle symphonies (2-5) is replaced by a disjointed sort of style that I can't relate to.

Offline Brian

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 04:41:16 PM »
I'm gonna mention probably Philip Glass or Schnittke wrote far more interesting earlier symphonies than later ones. However, the former's 8th symphony is pretty fun to listen to.
Glass's 10th is an abomination but he has already written an 11th so it does not count. :(

Actually, speaking for my personal taste, I agree with Scarpia: Nielsen.

And I rank the Dvorak symphonies 873694251, which is not a Worst Last but relative to popular consensus about his 9th is pretty extremist.

Online jessop

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2018, 04:44:11 PM »
Ah. Perhaps the difference of opinion is that when I first listened to Nielsen symphonies I decided to go in reverse chronological order for no particular reason at all. The 6th I found very charming, the 5th less so but still nice and I couldn't really get into the others as much as I could with the 6th.

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2018, 08:03:10 PM »
Possibly, Atterberg's 9th symphony would be my candidate. Not necessarily that bad, just my least favorite of his.

As for the Nielsen's 6th symphony, I think it's not the worst one IMHO. Lately, I've appreciated much more its details and I find it highly rewarding (above all the 1st movement). In addition, there is a certain enigmatic atmosphere that makes it even more interesting (it's me, anyway).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2018, 08:05:01 PM »
Strange, I find Nielsen’s last symphony one of his best. :-\ Different strokes for different folks I suppose.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 07:50:11 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2018, 12:03:43 AM »
I don't know enough pieces by mediocre composers of too many symphonies (like Spohr, Raff or Glass), so I don't have obvious candidates.
Sibelius 8th? That's why it was never finished/published :D

Among major composers/pieces, I think Schumann's "Rhenish" is a candidate. I find it very uneven with a good first movement, decent second and fascinating 4th (brassy "cathedral") movement but the 3rd and 5th are weak and the whole thing does not hang together very well for me.

I don't quite "get" Nielsen's 6th (and even so I am not sure if I clearly prefer his first two to it) but as in some other composers (DSCH's 15th) it does not seem a failure at all, just a deliberate change towards a more enigmatic, less obviously expressive style.

Prokofieff'S 7th is almost his worst, but the 4th is probably still weaker, although I don't know them well enough for a final verdict.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 12:39:23 AM by Jo498 »
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2018, 12:31:01 AM »
I honestly thought Nielsen 6 would be uncontroversial. In #1 he hasn't quite developed his style, than consistently developing 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 abandons the style and falls off a cliff. Sort of like Shostakovich 15, except it isn't brilliant.

Can't bring to mind another symphonist whose last symphony was a turkey. Atterberg's last would be a candidate. I never listened to it because of the chorus...

Offline some guy

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2018, 02:36:01 AM »
I honestly thought Nielsen 6 would be uncontroversial.
Wow.

I would suggest that you listen carefully to all Nielsen's oeuvre from earliest to latest. I don't think it's much of a stretch to see that the sixth is the culmination of everything he'd been working towards.

And if you do think that that's too much of a stretch, give the flute concerto another listen. See?

The sixth is not a one off. The sixth is not a falling off the cliff. The sixth is the goal, the music that Nielsen was headed towards his entire career, the final flowering. (You'll have noticed yourselves that flowers do indeed look different from leaves and branches and trunks (or stems) and roots.)

Also, the first is quite highly developed stylistically and Shostakovich's 15th is a return to his salad years before Stalin got going on him.

Offline DaveF

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2018, 02:39:17 AM »
(I was put up to this. :))

Not at all - your idea, which I merely encouraged as a good and fruitful one  :)

I'm afraid, both for worst firsts and lasts, it's Dvořák for me, although love all the others, especially 5-8, with a special soft spot for 2.
"Just because I like something, it doesn't mean it's any good."

Offline Cato

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2018, 03:47:23 AM »

I don't know enough pieces by mediocre composers of too many symphonies (like Spohr, Raff or Glass), so I don't have obvious candidates.
Sibelius 8th? That's why it was never finished/published :D

Prokofieff'S 7th
is almost his worst, but the 4th is probably still weaker, although I don't know them well enough for a final verdict.

I have never liked the Seventh, although GMG has a good number of members who think it is quite fine.  Both versions of the Fourth I find problematic.

How about the latest symphony (#3....?)  of conductor Leif - "Will SOMEBODY keep music paper out of his hands?" - Segerstam ?    ???   ;)
COWBOY (sitting down to a poker game for the first time): "Is this a game of chance?!"

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Offline Brian

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2018, 06:37:57 AM »
I honestly thought Nielsen 6 would be uncontroversial.

I knew that it would be controversial because I know many GMGers love it, but also because it falls into that 20th century vein of music which clearly does not exist for me, without necessarily being bad. I remember liking the first movement and then simply being baffled by the rest, like he was speaking a language that my brain just won't translate. It is good that there are people who understand that language, I guess, but they ain't us.

Offline amw

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2018, 07:53:25 AM »
Nielsen 6 is also my personal favourite and seems like an obvious development of his style up til then, alongside the flute and clarinet concertos. I guess it’s in a somewhat lighter vein than his other symphonies though and goes against the preferences of people who prefer epicness.

For me I also have to go with Dvořák, although the slow movement does have lovely things in it.

Offline Jo498

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2018, 08:18:01 AM »
Now I understand that some find Dvorak's "New World" grotesquely overrated and I can sympathize with that to some extent. But it is not all a bad piece, superior to his first four symphonies, I'd say.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2018, 08:31:27 AM »
Since Nielsen 6 and Prok 7 are among my favorite symphonies, I cannot endorse the negative comments and votes. In fact, I'll have to unfriend several people  ;D

My vote goes to Arnold Bax's Seventh.

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Offline amw

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2018, 08:42:17 AM »
Now I understand that some find Dvorak's "New World" grotesquely overrated and I can sympathize with that to some extent. But it is not all a bad piece, superior to his first four symphonies, I'd say.
I think No.9 is quite weak structurally, with little variety in the phrasing, everything being 4 and 8 bars long, and exceptionally clumsy reuse of material from earlier movements in later ones. And everything is stretched out much longer than it should be vs the concision he achieved in the previous two symphonies. Maybe No.1 is even weaker in technical aspects, but No.1 at least has a sense of energy and possibilities instead of just going through the motions. Nos.2, 3 and 4 are as fine as 5-8 imo, just a bit more long-winded.

Offline Brian

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2018, 09:10:55 AM »
A very plausible but very obscure candidate is Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda, one of those rare composers who genuinely seemed to fade with age. His Seventh and final symphony is a decent early-romantic effort, but it can't hold a candle to the bizarre chromatic motto theme of the Third, the ferocious/savage fury of the Fifth (which makes Schumann look like a big baby), or the forward-looking eccentricity of his string quartets.

Offline arpeggio

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2018, 08:01:59 PM »
There is no way I can tell anyone which last symphony is the weakest.

Heck, in another forum there was a thread dedicated to those who though Beethoven's Ninth was his weakest  ???

For whatever it is worth my least favorite last symphony is William Schuman's Tenth.  I am a big Schuman fan and for me it was a major disappointment.  If there are any who think it is great, please jump in.

Offline Daverz

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Re: The Worst Last!
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2018, 09:22:26 PM »
Every Gadé symphony after the first is a let down.