I hear what you're saying. Bach shows that there's nothing mutually exclusive about a cerebral work of art and an emotionally evocative one, though the relation between the two often seems dichotomous, especially in modern classical music. I wonder if that's because the modern approach, almost by definition, attempts new ways of expressing emotion without relying exclusively on the referents of earlier Western music. An atonal piece of music might be misconstrued as "cerebral rather than emotional" simply because its devices are unfamiliar and its emotional signals are not immediately recognized. I'm not much of a theoretician, but my own growing appreciation of modern pieces suggests an analogy with reading in translation: the more one learns of the new language, the culture from which its connotations derive and its other literature, the better one can apprehend its full meaning.Rasputin wrote: ↑Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:44 pmI sort of agree with you there but that there is something different about kind of intellectual engagement demanded by this kind of music, and that it in the end it is this particular kind of engagement that people of AA's mindset reject as unmusical. Bach is fairly cerebral music, I would have said, but the intellectual engagement that it seems to invite feels very different to me from the intellectual engagement that modern pieces seem to invite. I can't put my finger on it but somehow, in the Bach, it seems to be more intimately connected with the actual music.markworthi wrote: ↑Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:52 pmI am not sure that the composer's goal [the composer of Catalan Peasant with Guitar, I think] was ... necessarily to elicit passive enjoyment. Instead, I really believe that the composer was demanding a more active engagement with the piece, an intellectual deciphering, that is every bit as valid as composing something that is simply pleasing at first pass.
To me, the ultimate test of whether or not a composition should be esteemed is whether or not it does two things: captivates the audience in some way; and evokes an intellectual and/or emotional (not necessarily pleasant) response-- and I think the intellectual component of a work of art is every bit as important as its emotional effect. I think this is true of Nocturnal, which succeeds in both.
An excellent article, I've learnt a great deal from it. He discusses connections which I felt instinctively and mentions more that hadn't occurred to me. I touched in my second post on the Sonnet from the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, and the string quartets, as well as the violin concerto. Goss discusses the insomnia/dream dichotomy: the Keats sonnet explores the borderline between sleep and death, as of course does the original Dowland song.
Well indeed the wider canon might be considered a bit off-topic, and while I know a few other Britten works, am myself not in a position to know whether Op 70 has a pivotal position as Goss suggests. The conversation or probably more likely, class with Starobin was over 20 years ago so memory cannot be totally relied upon, but I don't think the comment on the passacaglia was meant to do the piece as a whole down that much, and I could not now say whether DS was suggesting the variation fails or, as Goss says, really isn't actually a passacaglia at all!Digory Piper wrote: ↑Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:08 pm...
For all these admittedly personal reasons I was interested to hear if any other posters had views on how Nocturnal fits into the Britten canon, but, hey, this is a guitar forum. I was appalled by David Starobin's view (reported by Stephen Kenyon) on the Passacaglia - he couldn't be more wrong - and greaty enjoyed Christopher Freitag's analysis. Above all, thank you Sean for your intervention, and for pointing me at that superb article.
I was not referring to Brouwer, but the most extreme modernists.Jeffrey Armbruster wrote: ↑Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:19 am"I like some dissonance, but when the whole piece is dissonant and, even worse, the rhythms also appear random, then it's really not for me."
I'm not entirely sure that you're referencing Brouwer here. Believe me, I'm an amateur. But just listening to (or playing) Brouwer, I've never found a single rhythm to be random, anywhere. Or, for that matter, in the Nocturnal.
But I haven't listened closely to everything by Brouwer. Hard to imagine though. He has a rigorous formal sensibility.
I did later on say that many people liked the piece for sincere reasons. My point is that its status and provenance have resulted in a situation where people dare not question its true worth in the repertoire.Tom Poore wrote: ↑Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:04 amIt might be germane to this conversation to describe my own exposure to the Nocturnal.
Like many, my first hearing was via Bream’s 1967 “20th Century Guitar” LP. At the time I encountered it, I was a self-taught amateur player. Didn’t know anyone else who played classical guitar, nor did I have a guitar teacher. Thus, my exposure to the Nocturnal was entirely solitary. There was no one to influence my opinion.
I was taken with the piece on my first hearing.
In my case, at least, where’s the groupthink that Mr. Allan thinks accounts for the Nocturnal’s reputation?
One might posit that, for me, it was Bream himself who influenced me to admire this piece. Well, on the same 1967 recording is Reginald Smith Brindle’s El Polifemo De Oro. I despise this piece. Didn’t like it then—don’t like it today. If my admiration for the Nocturnal is mere kowtowing to Bream, then why do I love the Nocturnal and hate El Polifemo De Oro?
I’m sorry Mr. Allan, but I find your groupthink notion condescending.
South Euclid, OH
Adrian, I simply cannot believe you are still banging on that way. That is not the situation. Its status is deserved, and people are able to question that status! Enough already!
Maybe its status is deserved - my point is that in some situations some people might feel embarrassed in a group of other guitarists to say that they do not rate it. You get these situations in almost every branch of the arts. I think it is healthy to have regular re-evaluations and dissenting voices.Stephen Kenyon wrote: ↑Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:33 amAdrian, I simply cannot believe you are still banging on that way. That is not the situation. Its status is deserved, and people are able to question that status! Enough already!
Adrian - I've hesitated to contribute - others can speak far more eloquently than I on the subjective nature of "the masterpiece" - I do so now in order to return to your original question(s).Adrian Allan wrote:It is widely viewed as a masterpiece of modern repertoire, and because it has been championed by Julian Bream, and written by one of the UK's most prominent modern composers, there is almost an unquestioned perception that it is a masterpiece ... What is the honest opinion of other people?
So the answer is a resounding YES.Adrian Allan wrote:If people had heard this for the first time, and it was written by an unknown composer and played by an unknown player, would they really view it is a masterpiece?
I wasn't suggesting it as an alternative Adrian - just an example of variations and theme. I think that it's a little low technically for inclusion in a Fellowship recital (not certain - it's a decade, at least, since I played it).Adrian Allan wrote:I am maybe too far into studying the pieces for the FTCL to switch from Koshkin to the suggested Rak