Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Compare and Contrast 7

Comments and reviews on Carl Nielsen's music:
I bet you can tell which of them I agree with.


rootlesscosmo said...

People complain about Nielsen’s lack of prominence, but these things are usually for a reason.

Yes, that would account for the temporary eclipses of Bach and Mahler too, wouldn't it?

What a yutz!

Henry Holland said...

Rootlesscosmo beat me to it with Bach. I'd add (even though I don't like them at all) Handel's operas, some of which went unperformed for almost 200 years, I believe, before the Handel revival began in Germany in the 1920's. Those pesky castrato roles.....

Much, much nearer to my heart are the operas of Franz Schreker. When I told a friend a few years ago that ca. 1920 or so, Schreker's operas were performed in German speaking Europe more than Richard Strauss' (and that's the Strauss of Salome, Elektra, Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau Ohne Schatten), he didn't believe me. "Why haven't I heard of them before?" he asked.

Perhaps Bernard Holland --no relation-- would care to explain that.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I take that review as a hopeful sign that we're about to have a Nielsen revival.

rootlesscosmo said...

Good idea! In fact, prompted by Ross' article, I listened again--for only the second time--to the Clarinet Concerto, and liked it a lot.

calimac said...

Hah - fascinating when they accuse a work of lacking exactly the qualities it features.

Scheinin recently slammed the Schubert Third: " The concert closed with Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D Major, which isn't often performed, and with good reason. Written when Schubert was 18, it is largely barren of interesting ideas. It's formulaic. McGegan and the orchestra gave it their all; the fourth movement was a thoroughbred race to the finish line. But all the spirit in the world can't salvage a piece that's a numbing bore."

What on earth? Ironic that that book listing 20 essential Schubert works picked the Third, of all the early symphonies, as their representative. And while it's not my favorite of them, it is the most memorable.

Joe said...

Yes, but when do we ever agree with Holland? South of great. Gap with Sibelius. Good grief.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Heheh. Yeah.

I hauled out my recording of "The Inextinguishable" a couple of days ago. This is a piece that did not "take" when I bought the recording, which is Rattle/CBSO, paired with Sibelius 5 and a short piece by Nielsen. Surprise: the problem was me, not Rattle or the Nielsen. Fabulous work, great performance.

Joe said...

Well, of course it is! I don't have Rattle's Fourth, but I remember hearing the Bernstein's performance on radio when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I went right out and bought the recording. Nielsen has been a favorite ever since.

I swear, I don't think Holland even listens to the music anymore. I think he just takes a poll and fashions his opinions accordingly. (It's not prominent; therefore it must not be all that good. Saves me the trouble of thinking.)

I also resent his attempts to speak for the audience, since he doesn't speak for me. I remember when Ma played Carter's Cello Concerto at Carnegie Hall in 2001, he noticed the audience was quiet afterwards, and he attributed the mood to "stunned incomprehension." I was there that night, and I was quiet too during intermission, but my reaction had more to do with awe.

I will have to check out some of the live recordings Ross mentions And hey — a breakthrough! I actually read Ross's review and liked it.

calimac said...

Actually, my first encounter with Nielsen was a student performance of the Fourth. Was that the "Inextinguishable" or the "Interminable"?

But later I heard Bernstein's recording of the Third, and that's what began to win me over.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I don't find the 4th interminable at all! I've also got a great disc of Vanska/BBCSO in 1 & 6, and that's the set that sold me on Nielsen.