What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

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PaulHardy
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by PaulHardy » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:10 pm

I think it's status in the guitar canon is less open to question than that of those Albeniz pieces in all honesty

Cipher
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Cipher » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:40 pm

PaulHardy wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:10 pm
I think it's status in the guitar canon is less open to question than that of those Albeniz pieces in all honesty
How are you able to put the Nocturnal and Albeniz in the same category? The Nocturnal is a piece specifically written for the guitar, Albeniz pieces that guitarists play are all transcriptions from the original piano.

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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by ddray » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:48 pm

Cipher wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:40 pm
PaulHardy wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:10 pm
I think it's status in the guitar canon is less open to question than that of those Albeniz pieces in all honesty
How are you able to put the Nocturnal and Albeniz in the same category? The Nocturnal is a piece specifically written for the guitar, Albeniz pieces that guitarists play are all transcriptions from the original piano.
Which is pretty much what the guy is saying. On Nocturnal I'm neutral, but it does raise an interesting point you brought up before. Britten was a great composer and great musical mind, and even if the piece leaves you cold for whatever reason it's worthwhile in any case to analyze it and see what he's doing. I used to have that "blah" feeling about Ginastera's Sonata but after looking at the score I wish I had the skills to play it.

Guitarhancock
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Guitarhancock » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:07 am

Mr. Allan,

What a nest of snakes you have disturbed!

Perhaps to settle things you would do the following:

1. Share your own composition of Dowland's original work and let us compare it to Mr. Britten's Nocturnal.

2.Display a performance on You Tube of you playing a work that you have determined is a Masterpiece so we will have a true standard to measure by musical history.

3. And, if you have time p!ease give us a list all Masterpieces of the guitar that have met with your approval.

We await.

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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Nick Clow » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:58 am

Hi Adrian

As you probably foresaw, you have ruffled some feathers. You often make interesting comments (not just on this thread) and this has been the most interesting thread on here for ages, so thank you! :D

More on other threads than this one, you have made comments about repetition and/or repetitive structures. Like you, I think I too am very sensitive to repetition. Glenn Gould said that he was not 'overly-fond' of Schubert's music given its (overly) repetitive structures, so I think it ok to hold such views. I can find myself not overly fond of variations or music based on serialistic structures.

I don't know if Nocturnal is a 'masterpiece', but the two things that really make it stand out for me are:
1) As Mr Freitag says, the transition to the theme is a sublime moment. There is a divine passage in Cavalleria Rusticana (and I am not an opera-lover) that gets me in the same way. Likewise there are passages in Nielsen (S. Semplice) and Strauss (numerous) that I simply find incredibly moving; and
2) That (unlike some pieces by non-guitarist composers) it finds resonant spots on the guitar. It could be worth directly experiencing the harmonics on the guitar in person (either by seeing it played live or even by playing them yourself).

Never say Never. These modern works are very much like modern art. Not everyone walks into a room with a Jackson Pollock in it and swoons. I really don't mean to be patronising, but one day, when you are in the right setting with the right performer and in the right mood, the piece may hit you. I have certainly had this happen to me on a number of occasions both with art (Giacommettis) and music (many times). In fact just this week I had an epiphany with Fantasia para un Gentilhombre (not as challenging as Nocturnal). Over the years I had listened to a couple of (in retrospect rather prosaic) recordings of this and dismissed the piece as being not that interesting. However, I listened to Segovia's recording this week, and it is so full of authority and presence as to make the piece speak to me.

Cheers
Nick
Last edited by Nick Clow on Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:15 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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ddray
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by ddray » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:02 am

Guitarhancock wrote:
Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:07 am
Mr. Allan,

What a nest of snakes you have disturbed!

Perhaps to settle things you would do the following:

1. Share your own composition of Dowland's original work and let us compare it to Mr. Britten's Nocturnal.
From Boswell's Life of Johnson:
'I mentioned Mallet's tragedy of “ELVIRA,” which had been acted the preceding winter at Drury-lane, and that the Honourable Andrew Erskine, Mr. Dempster, and myself, had joined in writing a pamphlet, entitled “Critical Strictures” against it. That the mildness of Dempster's disposition had, however, relented; and he had candidly said, “We have hardly a right to abuse this tragedy; for bad as it is, how vain should either of us be to write one not near so good.” JOHNSON: “Why no, Sir; this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.” '

Boom. There ya go.
2.Display a performance on You Tube of you playing a work that you have determined is a Masterpiece so we will have a true standard to measure by musical history.
If I'm not mistaken I've seen a video of his in which he's playing Bach's Chaconne, which is more than many of us loudmouthed commenters here have done.
3. And, if you have time p!ease give us a list all Masterpieces of the guitar that have met with your approval.

We await.
I don't understand the brouhaha. He merely said he didn't care for a piece of music.

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PaulHardy
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by PaulHardy » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:13 am

ddray you understand me well

But look- if the original poster can't get on with the Britten that's fine. And given the level of the pieces he is working on for his diploma hasleaves me in his wake as a player and good on him. I just hope he is clear now that a piece he doesn't enjoy has its merits which others genuinely appreciate, and not just because they have been told to.

I admit I grew to like the Nocturnal by repeated active listening. I also admit that process hasn't quite happened with The Blue Guitar yet. But it has a big reputarion and I'm prepared to.accept that the critical view of it is justified, and that maybe one day I'll see its riches.

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PaulHardy
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by PaulHardy » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:28 am

ddray wrote:
Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:02 am
From Boswell's Life of Johnson:
...
' “We have hardly a right to abuse this tragedy; for bad as it is, how vain should either of us be to write one not near so good.” JOHNSON: “Why no, Sir; this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.” '
:bravo: :merci:

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Adrian Allan
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Adrian Allan » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:30 am

Guitarhancock wrote:
Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:07 am
Mr. Allan,

What a nest of snakes you have disturbed!

Perhaps to settle things you would do the following:

1. Share your own composition of Dowland's original work and let us compare it to Mr. Britten's Nocturnal.

2.Display a performance on You Tube of you playing a work that you have determined is a Masterpiece so we will have a true standard to measure by musical history.

3. And, if you have time p!ease give us a list all Masterpieces of the guitar that have met with your approval.

We await.
Thanks for the suggestions

I never ever claimed that I can offer greatness in regard to anything. I am an ok player, but not at concert standard. I make too many mistakes. I have been working on an advanced diploma for two years because I know full well it would take a great effort to pass it, but we've all got to have goals in life.

I do write a bit of music, but I would never call it great or anything approaching great. Here is an example, if you are interested:

https://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/94602.html

I already mentioned a few pieces that I considered masterpieces, such as the Aranjuez Concerto, Invocation y Danza, possibly Walton's Bagatelles (which I find much more varied and acccessible), Villa Lobos Etudes, possibly La Catedral - because to me, a masterpiece needs to be of a certain length to show variety and development within.

I start a thread with a certain amount of deliberate provocation - as it creates a greater reaction. People need to bear this in mind. As people have argued back and provided very personal accounts of their own appreciation of the Nocturnal, I have begun to shift my views on its worth and status.
This is what rational debate is all about - it's not meant to be a platform, for adults really falling out with each other.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:44 am

Guitarhancock wrote:Mr. Allan, Perhaps to settle things you would do the following:

1. Share your own composition of Dowland's original work and let us compare it to Mr. Britten's Nocturnal.
2.Display a performance on You Tube of you playing a work that you have determined is a Masterpiece so we will have a true standard to measure by musical history.
3. And, if you have time p!ease give us a list all Masterpieces of the guitar that have met with your approval.
And if he did any or all of those things how would it help resolve his initial inquiry?

Adrian has already - earlier in this very thread - told us that he will acquire the score, study it and listen to the work again with a view to understanding other's points of view.

You, Mr. Hancock, have simply added evidence to the nub of his complaint i.e. that some works become so firmly consolidated within the canon that one can be pilloried simply for expressing one's personal doubt. I don't really agree with Adrian having never experienced that myself - but well done, you've just proved his point perfectly.

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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Nick Clow » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:55 am

PaulHardy wrote:
Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:13 am
I also admit that process hasn't quite happened with The Blue Guitar yet.
Likewise. 23 years, seen it performed with Tippett in the audience and I'm still not there. Despite being a major fan of some of Tippett's other music (Child in Time was, at one point, very significant to me).

Yet (as you say).
Last edited by Nick Clow on Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MartinCogg
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by MartinCogg » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:54 pm

Digory Piper wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:08 pm

......... and shall put things right by buying Sean's also :D
I splashed out and bought that 'Dreams & Fancies' cd a couple of days ago, and
having listened to it a few times yesterday and today I'm thinking it's a thoroughly
excellent recording -

:applauso: for Sean Shibe!

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Christopher Freitag
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Christopher Freitag » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:51 pm

MartinCogg wrote:
Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:54 pm
Digory Piper wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:08 pm

......... and shall put things right by buying Sean's also :D
I splashed out and bought that 'Dreams & Fancies' cd a couple of days ago, and
having listened to it a few times yesterday and today I'm thinking it's a thoroughly
excellent recording -

:applauso: for Sean Shibe!
I agree...terrific performances throughout and his Nocturnal is one of the best I have heard apart from Bream's first recording. I think Colin Davin's recording of it also holds up very well.
Chris Freitag
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Sean Shibe
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by Sean Shibe » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:35 am

Curiously enough in a recent review a prominent critic made clear that he considers it doubtful that Nocturnal is a masterpiece: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/dre ... olo-guitar
what kind of strings do you use though

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PaulHardy
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Re: What is your opinion of Britten's Nocturnal?

Post by PaulHardy » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:26 am

Sean Shibe wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:35 am
Curiously enough in a recent review a prominent critic made clear that he considers it doubtful that Nocturnal is a masterpiece: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/dre ... olo-guitar
Yes but it comes the closest of the pieces on the disc, according to him. And it's still among the very best we have.

Adrian I'm sorry I have to concur with Mr Yeoman and place the the Nocturnal above the Walton Bagatelles, even though I adore them.
Walton did a marvellous job producing something so engaging, so interesting and yet so avowedly diatonic in 1971. But the darkness and introspection of the Britten is special in a repertoire heavily laden with sun-soaked Mediterranean charmers or gently bittersweet bonbons. Nothing wrong with those in moderation but a wholr evening of phrygian modes, rasguedos and dramatic scale runs can start to drag imho.

And I know many others will disagree so I'll acknowledge their right to a different view now in a (doomed) attempt to head them off. 😁

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