Please turn that off

May 1, 2018

Over at Slipped Disc Norman Lebrecht opened a can of worms by posting a few lists of “10 Works or Composers You Never Want to Hear Again”. I thought it would be fun to draw up my own list. These are not pieces (or composers) toward which I’m indifferent or just think are overplayed, but ones that will cause me to cover my ears, grimace, and flee if they come within hearing.

The comments on the original post at Slipped Disc are entertaining.

(Hat-tip: The Music Salon)

20 Responses to “Please turn that off”

  1. Troy Says:

    Really Craig, this is truly the first time you’ve disappointed me. Beethoven is marvellous from the first to last measure. The third movement is so delightful. Full of joy and lacking in drama. The recorder quartet you’ve chosen is an example is awful. Overblown. Out of tune. But there are terrific transcriptions and recordings for recorder ensemble. The recorder is making a comeback or sorts. I recommend The Royal Wind Music.

  2. Anna Hughes Says:

    I agree with your friend Troy! Recorder quartets can be marvellous! Heard my first at a wedding when I was the organist at 16 and was blown away. Some kid won the concerto competition at university on recorder. He was awesome. And you don’t like “extended vocal techniques”? Does this include falsetto and yodelling? really? And what about bad “church music”? You didn’t mention Haugen or Haas and their ilk!


  3. I’m shocked by the Beethoven. Most of the others, well, I suppose I wouldn’t argue, at least not much–except maybe for the Mahler. I have probably played (rather than truly listened to) a recording of the 8th at least half a dozen times over a period of 20 years or more, not liking it but thinking “This is Mahler–there must be something good here.” And as it happens just a few days ago I put it on again and at several points found myself liking it. I don’t know how much potential the relationship has but as of today I wouldn’t say I dislike it.

    I love Pierrot Lunaire, so maybe that puts me in disagreement with the first item, though I think I probably agree overall.

  4. cburrell Says:

    Troy, I thought I was on safe ground with the recorder quartet. Next thing you’ll be defending saxophone quartets!

    As for the Beethoven, well, we all have our little idiosyncrasies. If you don’t mind that feeling of needles into your temples, who am I to judge?

    Anna: falsetto and yodelling are in; I’m a fan. But chirping, barking, coughing, and spitting are out.

    I didn’t think I needed to mention Haugen and Haas; I was focusing on the music that has a good reputation in at least some quarters.

    Mac, I actually wouldn’t put Pierrot in the extended vocal techniques category, though I suppose the point is arguable. Anyway, I like Pierrot, in a suitable moderate sense of “like”.

    As I think you know, I love Mahler, but the 8th I cannot abide. It’s like eating a bowl of fudge. Pass the pretzel sticks.

  5. dksgf Says:

    Just an urchin from the unwashed masses here wondering what this August Ilk were to say about Kieth Emerson, were any of it know of his glorious and tragic existence.

    RIP Kieth.

  6. dksgf Says:

    I only ask because someone mentioned “Classical and Pop.” And that’s probably how Progressive Rock would be viewed in these parts. Or not.

  7. cburrell Says:

    I can’t comment on Emerson, whose music is known to me only with an admixture of Lake and Palmer, and even then only slightly. The prog rock phenomenon is a notable example of classical/pop blend, though what I had in mind was the less nuanced examples of classical vocalists tackling popular songs and vice versa, usually with hideous results.

  8. Troy Says:

    Craig, I don’t think I’ll defend saxophone quartets but I do admit that I am not sure what the problem is: the repertoire for the instrument or the instrument itself. The saxophone is clearly here to stay, but it didn’t exactly evolve naturally within the family.

  9. Troy Says:

    It might be fun to confess our guilty pleasures. For instance if we like Pachebel Canon or Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. Something of that nature.

  10. cburrell Says:

    You know, I can’t really think of any guilty pleasures in the world of classical music. If I like it, I don’t feel guilty about it. I like Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; I’m very fond of Fur Elise; I don’t even mind the infamous Pachelbel’s Canon.

    I do have a few guilty pleasures in popular music, chief among them being Taylor Swift (though not her most recent records, which I can’t stand).

  11. Rob G Says:

    I’m with you on 1,2,3,4,6 & 10. Don’t know the others that well or at all. As for classical/pop crossover, I can enjoy some of the better examples, but I agree that most of it is ill-advised. And I must say that while I don’t like ‘Drumming’, I’m a great fan of Reich’s ‘Music for 18 Musicians’.

  12. Rob G Says:

    I feel the same way about guilty pleasures in classical music as you do. If I like it, I’m good with it.

    I discussed my main guilty pleasure in pop music here:

    http://www.lightondarkwater.com/2017/08/52-albums-week-34-tranceport-paul-okenfold.html

  13. cburrell Says:

    Some of Reich’s music is alright; I don’t love any of it, but it is Drumming that really gets under my skin.

    I remember that you wrote about that album for Maclin. It’s not my cup of tea.


  14. If classical/pop crossover is exemplified by Yes playing a piece of Brahms’s 3rd, I’m against it. I don’t object in principle…at least I think I don’t…maybe I do…anyway, I’m having trouble coming up with an instance that I think is successful. Phillip Glass’s “Low” symphony comes at it from the other side. I haven’t heard it for a long time but I think I was Not Impressed when I did hear it.

    My guilty pleasure is ambient music. But like y’all I don’t have any in classical music. Yeah, I like things that sophisticated people look down their noses at, but I don’t care.

  15. cburrell Says:

    I tend to think of singers: opera singers trying out pop tunes, and vice versa. I can’t think of an example where it worked well.


  16. Oh yeah, that usually strikes me as more cringe-worthy than anything else.


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