The Music Room > General Classical Music Discussion

Why do you like...?

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Symphonic Addict:
I mean. Someone begins mentioning a random work, or a work of their preferences (the first who wants to contribute). For example, xyz user says Bach's Goldberg Variations, or Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8, or Bridge's String Quartet No. 4, etc, etc, etc, and that person gives us their opinion about what they think about the piece. If you can explain with plenty of details, that will be very welcome, of course. Also, it would be also worthy if you mention the only one performance that you would bring to a desert island.

Others can also comment the selections and provide their own works.

I think that would be very much different than creating polls for mentioning works without any type of impressions or thoughts about them (not that they're not worth enjoying). It's just different, and perhaps more interactive.

Mirror Image:
I think with any piece that I've come to love it's difficult to put into words as to why it has affected me. It could be the general sound-world the music inhabits, but more often than not, it's the harmony I'm attracted to the most when talking about music. This isn't to say that I don't think melody, harmony, color, texture, structure, etc. aren't important, but if I can hear what the harmony is doing (or even not doing, which makes me want to figure it out), I can find a way into the music. I guess this is why I'm so attracted to composers like Debussy, Ravel, Bartók, Stravinsky and Ives to name a few because it was their unique harmonic language that gave them a distinctive quality. Even as a guitarist, the pieces that I work on have always been created with the harmony in mind first and then everything else I build on top of that (if this makes any sense).

I like Schubert's Piano Sonata D960 and Schumann's Three Romances for Oboe and Piano Op. 94, first and foremost the 2nd one, because the very first time I've ever heard them I was right in the middle of a passionate love affair, with all the corresponding ups and downs, and I felt that they miraculously expressed all my joys, sorrows and hopes. To this very day they never fail to give me goosebumps and even occasionally bring tears to my eyes, although those days are long gone and that love has been long since dead and buried.

Roasted Swan:
I think Florestan's referencing an extra-musical experience is very valid.  Of course there is plenty of music I could say I like and give some detailed objective explanation of why but in fact much of the music I love the most has an external/emotional association.  I hear a specific piece and I am transported to the time/place/people I link with that music.   Just as with scent and smells, a couple of bars of a particular piece and I am catapulted back. 

That said there is much music that I find beautiful or moving without prior associations but I understand this is a wholly subjective reaction - albeit with some 'popular' works one shared by many people.  There is a video of Sumi Jo singing the Schubert "Ave Maria" at a recital in Paris shortly after her father died.  She was not able to return to Korea to be with him because of the concert so this is a performance very much sung for him.  For me this is a beautiful song, stunningly sung but with a layer of added emotion that any/all of us who have lost someone close can relate to...

Cyril Rootham's 2nd Symphony comes to mind. Here's part of an Amazon UK review that I wrote which, I think, explains the appeal of the work to me:

'Well, seven years after the Lyrita CD release of Rootham's bracing and life-affirming First Symphony (recorded initially in 1976) comes the Symphony 2 from 1938 (recorded in 1984) completed a few days before the composer passed away. Compared to the bracing and dynamic First Symphony, the Second Symphony, unsurprisingly perhaps given the circumstances of its composition, is a comparatively tranquil and reflective, though characteristically melodic work, of three movements; a chorus, towards the end, movingly sings a passage from the Revelation of St. John the Divine ('Behold, there shall be no more death...') Rootham's was seriously ill and then dying when he completed the work ten days before he died with the loyal help of his friend and former pupil Patrick Hadley. Rootham had given the premier performance of Hadley's wonderful 'The Trees so High' (do listen to this if you don't know it). I have to say that I found the final section of Rootham's Second Symphony, where the music seems to enter a kind of ethereal/spiritual zone, with the strings playing a repeating eight note passage against the chorus, to be almost unbearably moving but maybe this was partly because I know that the composer was dying as he wrote/orchestrated this passage. The Symphony seems to end in a profound sense of peace and acceptance.'


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