Curious Dislikes

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Eliza Frost
Eliza Frost's picture
Curious Dislikes

I love almost everything by Mozart. I love the symphonies, piano concertos, chamber music, mature operas, piano sonatas........everything, just about. But I really don't like the clarinet concerto or the clarinet quintet. (Though I do love the clarinet trio and usually like clarinet music.) I have listened to them countless times and on many celebrated recordings. I even played the quintet back when I still played the clarinet. But I just don't like them. More than this, I actually find them annoying and have trouble understanding what other people see in them. The quintet is dirgy and monotonous; the concerto just plain boring. The famous slow movement of the concerto seems contrived and sentimental and makes me groan with irritation - something that never, ever happens when I listen to Mozart.

Anyway, the merits of these particular pieces isn't what interests me. (I am not looking for people to defend them or recommend yet another recording.) What does interest me is the mysterious way our taste - in this case mine - opens the door to some pieces and keeps it firmly locked for others. Try as I might, I can't like these pieces and don't suppose I ever will. The door, which opens for so many others, remains locked.

My question, then, is this: Do you have trouble with a piece by a composer you otherwise love?

Just to be clear: (1) We have to be talking about a piece that is commonly held in high regard - nothing peripheral or marginal (no Beethoven Battle Symphonies); (2) You must have given these pieces a good listen over a reasonable period of time; and (3) You love or at least like almost everything else by this composer.

50milliarden's picture
RE: Curious Dislikes

Bazza, I think those soviet-cantatas are (justly) buried and forgotten not because they're nationalistic, but because of their revolting political content.

National music tends to be mostly patriottic, in various shades of subtlety and thus is confined to the borders of one country. Political propaganda music pretends to be a messanger of a greater, international truth, and is thus far more "in your face" and repugnant, specially if the chosen ideology is a criminal one, like in Prokofiev's and Shostakovich's cases. Speaking of which, would Shostakovich's 2nd and 3rd symphonies still be performed if music lovers and conductors weren't obsessed with complete cycles? Or his 12th, that other shitstain on his otherwise so rich and rewarding oeuvre?

Some 19th century patriottic music can be tolerable, specially when written in non-teutonic places which didn't make each other or the outside world suffer because of their feelings of superiority. Like Scandinavia.

Talking about which, Sibelius was one of those composers with a disturbing unbalance between the good and bad parts of his output. Apart from writing ome of the best symphonies of the 20th century, a passable violin concerto and some chamber music, he wrote a full library of music ranging from the mediocre to the plain terrible.

As for my own petty dislikes, let's just say that Tchaikowski's 4th and 5th are among the pieces I wouldn't mind never hearing again as long as I live.

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