03. July 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Other People's Words, Ramble

Franck is a good example of a once popular composer who has been all but expunged from the repertory. Perceived wisdom has it that his music – like Rachmaninov’s before him – is too indulgent and lacks subtlety: in a word it is too “cheesy”.

Do audiences agree? I don’t think so. But it is conductors who rule the roost and conductors who select the music we hear. And, being human (although Nigel Kennedy may disagree with me about that), they are hardly averse to choosing works that show off their podium skills.

Which is why Delius’s music barely gets a look in nowadays. Half a century ago conductors such as Beecham, Barbirolli and Sargent had the confidence to slip in such tasty Delian morsels as A Song Before Sunrise or Summer Night on the River without worrying that the music ends quietly and there is no burst of applause at the finish.

But, in case you are thinking that it’s only the romantics who suffer from classical music’s mood swings, consider the plight of those 20th-century titians Honegger and Hindemith.

Perhaps their contrapuntal complexities do not suit every palette, but their music hardly deserves such total neglect. Honegger once observed that “the first requirement for a composer is to be dead”, but his idea of a good career move has singularly failed to bring his own music to life.

-Julian Lloyd Weber (RTWT)

For what it’s worth, the only thing I know by Franck is his d minor symphony, which I can gladly do without. I love playing the Honegger work Concerto de Camera for flute, English horn and strings. And Hindemith has always been fun to play, even though I think the way he ends his oboe sonata sort of falls flat.

But never mind what I think. Listen to the works and see what your ears tell you.

Comments closed.