Music of Jewish Descent

Piano, Fortepiano and Harpsichord Music
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fredbucket
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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by fredbucket » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:44 pm

Timtin wrote:I'm probably in a minority of one when opining that quite a bit of Alkan's piano music is unusual and
highly original, but can get a bit boring with over-familiarity.
Well, obviously, different people will come up with different lists. I've been an Alkan afficionado for forty years. In fact the edition that Alfor used to get the Zorcico I first borrowed from Sydney University just after it came out and I still play a number of pieces from it and have an original copy of it as well.

In terms of a variety of moods, styles, difficulty etc he is up there with the best of them. I would back the Grande Sonata (Quasi Faust) against the Liszt B minor (it was written before the Liszt), Bartok must have known his music and Sorabji was a fan (Alastair will know more about this of course). Mendelssohn is very neat and pianistic but hardly shows the depth or adventure in Alkan's music, and so on and so forth. This of course is personal, and everyone will have different views. That is how it should be and if anyone cares to differ in in this thread I promise not to use my moderatorial powers to stifle free speech...

And if Alkan can get boring with over-familiarity as you say, how much does that also apply to Chopin and the like. Oh no, not another bloody revolutionary study. And if I hear another op9no1 (which is a dead copy of Field anyway) I shall eat pork on Good Friday with a clear conscience...

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Fred

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by Timtin » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:36 pm

I don't disagree with any of that, and concede that Alkan was brilliant and original writer of piano music,
but when it came to chamber, orchestral and choral writing, I would argue that Mendelssohn was light years ahead.

(Paraphrase of original version of message.)
Last edited by Timtin on Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by rob » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:39 pm

I'd like to just add a rejoinder about historical perspective. We now impose an over-riding category on these composers which to us seems more important than anything else. The history of the Twentieth Century has completely altered our perspective of these composers. For most Jewish composers before the Twentieth Century their nationality was more important than anything else. Probably NONE of them thought of themselves as 'Jewish' composers: their religion and/or cultural heritage was superseded by their nationality. Mendelssohn for instance was primarily a German composer, and his 'Jewishness' seems of little importance when looking at his works. So just beware of our contemporary perspective which may have very little to do with the composers' own ideas of themselves.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by fredbucket » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:53 pm

Timtin wrote:but when it came to chamber, orchestral and choral writing, I would argue that Mendelssohn was light years ahead.
But note that Alkan wrote very little of the first, none of the second (a symphony I believe is lost) and a tribute to a dead parrot for the third, so comparisons are not really valid, I think you will agree.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by fredbucket » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:58 pm

rob wrote:So just beware of our contemporary perspective which may have very little to do with the composers' own ideas of themselves.
Spoilsport - just as I was getting into my stride as well. You are, of course, correct. Alkan wrote very little Jewish-inspired music and Mendelssohn, Mahler, Meyerbeer none to my knowledge, so Jewish classical music as such is certainly a 20th/21st century phenomenon.

I shall try to keep quiet, now...

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by Timtin » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:44 pm

There is, of course, no comparison between the chamber, orchestral, and choral music of Mendelssohn and Alkan.
That's kind of the point I think we're both making. Having said that, I do rather like Alkan's Grand Duo Concertante Op21
and his Sonata de Concert Op47!
Last edited by Timtin on Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by rob » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:56 pm

Timtin wrote:
fredbucket wrote:
Timtin wrote:but when it came to chamber, orchestral and choral writing, I would argue that Mendelssohn was light years ahead.
But note that Alkan wrote very little of the first, none of the second (a symphony I believe is lost) and a tribute to a dead parrot for the third, so comparisons are not really valid, I think you will agree.

Regards
Fred
There is, of course, no comparison between the chamber, orchestral, and choral music of Mendelssohn and Alkan.
That's kind of the point I think we're both making. Having said that, I do rather like Alkan's Grand Duo Concertante Op21
and his Sonata de Concert Op47!
...and further... the quality of his slender output in chamber music forms is such as to regret the fact the he didn't write more in other forms. Practice of course makes perfect, and Alkan was certainly gifted enough to have achieved that in forms other than piano music. Pity he didn't seem interested, but we must be grateful for the superb music he left us in whatever form - mostly extraordinary, original and perhaps unique.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by HullandHellandHalifax » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:12 pm

Isn't it strange that we still criticise composers for knowing their own strengths and weaknesses (mostly) and composing for what they were best at. Poor old Alkan obviously had no interest in anything other than the piano and pedalier, and enriched our repertoire thereby enormously. Because he wasn't interested particularly in chamber, vocal and symphonic forms it somehow makes him sort-of less important.
You could apply these sort of criteria to all composers and come up with a list of people like Bruckner who only wrote symphonically, his output for piano and organ and lieder is almost non-existent and of no real importance to his standing as a top symphonic composer. Then you have Chopin, Wagner, Reger to name but a few who were very strong in certain departments like piano and opera and organ music and significantly lacking in all the others. Does that make them any the less important as composers, I think not.
So please lets stop these stupid arguments whether Mendelssohn was better than Alkan because he could write good potty (chamber) music and get back to the point of the title of the thread. As is well-known Alkan did write a lot of music based on jewish religious chant and jewish themes and was a great fan of Mendelssohn witness the "Chants" . It may be that a lot of his special harmonic language was forged in the synagogue and the exotic scales used in Jewish religious music, it would be interesting for some of our jewish members to enlighten us on these melodies and special scales.
regards
Brian

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by Timtin » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:22 pm

This rather bears out the what was said previously about the problems inherent in discussing
the relative merits of composers whose strengths lay in such differing areas.

(Paraphrase of original version of message.)
Last edited by Timtin on Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Music of Jewish Descent

Post by passthesalt » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:15 am

fredbucket wrote:
passthesalt wrote:it must be the humidity here
Humidity? Texas?

Regards
GWB
Dallas-Ft Worth has been just east of a dry line sitting in place for weeks. West of the dry line has had dangerously low humidity and no rain and hence, the worst wildfires ever recorded here (still going on). The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular as a result. (You'd think Krakatoa had erupted again.) But east of the line (where I am), temperatures climb to 94 F (about 33 C) everyday and the humidity gets staggering. This is about 20 degrees hotter than usual for this time of year.

By the way, if you want to experience rainforest humidity, visit the Houston/Galveston area where the air is so humid, you can lean on it.

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