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Tuesday, 31 May 2016


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I was accidentally listening to his Concerto for Trumpet and Piano yesterday. My wife plays the trumpet, and her mother, who is staying with us for a few days, is a pianist. They've both played this piece. They both think he is brilliant.

I still maintain that he was a talented technical musician without a scintilla of aesthetic sensibility. He knew how to put together musical symbols to create exactly the sounds he wanted, but unfortunately did not know what good music is. No taste. This condition is rare in a composer (usually in the west it is the other way around: aesthetically sound people who are technical bunglers are far more common) but we must make allowances for the Soviet system.

I dare say this to you because you are safely tucked up in deepest Zummerzet, but I'm not brave enough to state my case so robustly here at home!

Harrumph! Snort! Splutter! "Where's my shotgun?"

Dear Whyaxye, Try listening to his 24 preludes and fugues (op. 87) several times through preferably, and as played by Alexander Melnikov. You will no doubt see the error of your ways, and come to agree with Mr. Duff and myself that DSCH is the greatest of the great.

Whyaxe, the 5th is miraculous, especially the first movement, possibly the greatest and most stirring sonata since Beethoven's 5th. I don't know why the 7th is hailed as a great symphony. It just does nothing for me. I have to get hold of the string quartets.

And that novel sounds interesting. I'll have to read it. Thanks, DD, for pointing it out. "Reading book reviews so the rest of us don't have to" -- that should be your motto.

The interesting thing about the String Quartets is that they more or less cover his working life. So the early ones are more straightforward, almost cheerful (yeeeees quite!), and then the middle ones become more anguished and fretful and then at the end they become more sombre but restful as though the state of high anxiety had passed.

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