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#1368908 - 02/08/10 07:28 PM Clunkers by the great composers
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19335
Loc: New York City
I got the idea for this thread listening to this Rachmaninov Nocturne:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiowCGYeXJw

Further reading indicated Rach was only 14 at the time so maybe it doesn't count. Anyone have their own favorite clunker by a great composer?


Edited by pianoloverus (02/08/10 07:29 PM)

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#1368934 - 02/08/10 07:55 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: pianoloverus]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Fun topic!

The first thing I think of, fairly or not, is Beethoven's Wellington's Victory Symphony. I've never had the heart to listen to it carefully, though. Can it really be as bad as everyone says?

And then... this is a little apocryphal... but I can't decide if the middle section of the second movement of Schubert's great A major sonata (D. 959) is a vision of genius, or a clunker. For ten years, I've been unable to decide. smile

Oh, and, for me there are really 31 Beethoven piano sonatas. Number 20, op. 49 #2, is just not in the same league as the others, for me. (The other "easy sonata", op. 49 #1, is.) Not exactly a clunker, but maybe a fizzle.

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1368945 - 02/08/10 08:04 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
By the way, pianoloverus, could your fatal judgment of the Rachmaninoff nocturne be due to that particular recording? It sounded brash and dynamically abrupt to me. Does this recording help you view the piece any more favorably?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYzQawMpX-s&feature=related


-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1368949 - 02/08/10 08:07 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Solo piano version of Liszt's Totentanz. Yuck.

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#1368960 - 02/08/10 08:23 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Fun topic!

The first thing I think of, fairly or not, is Beethoven's Wellington's Victory Symphony. I've never had the heart to listen to it carefully, though. Can it really be as bad as everyone says?

And then... this is a little apocryphal... but I can't decide if the middle section of the second movement of Schubert's great A major sonata (D. 959) is a vision of genius, or a clunker. For ten years, I've been unable to decide. smile

Oh, and, for me there are really 31 Beethoven piano sonatas. Number 20, op. 49 #2, is just not in the same league as the others, for me. (The other "easy sonata", op. 49 #1, is.) Not exactly a clunker, but maybe a fizzle.

-Jason


I'm sure you know this, but Wellington's Victory, isn't a symphony. It was, believe it, or not, a huge hit for Beethoven. Finanacially, it was one of his most rewarding works and there were many editions of the work published (there's even one for two pianos and offstage cannons). It's first version wasn't orchestral, but written for Malzel (the same Malzel that patented the metronome and he also argued with Beethoven over ownership rights to the work!) and another of his inventions, the panharmonicon. Beethoven, took a lot of heat from the critics for Wellington, and one of my favorite quotes of his stems from his rebuke of one such critic: "What I sh*t, is better than anything you could ever think up."
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1368964 - 02/08/10 08:27 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: stores]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
stores, that quote actually made me lol out loud!

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#1368973 - 02/08/10 08:42 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Orange Soda King]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 855
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Solo piano version of Liszt's Totentanz. Yuck.


I disagree completely. I like that one a lot. Leslie Howard's recording of it is ugly, and it's probably an easy piece to over-bang, but I love Arnaldo Cohen's version on Naxos so much that it makes me want to learn it myself.


Tchaikovsky The Seasons and Grand Sonata have always seemed embarrassingly puerile to me.

And I know many will disagree here, but I can't find a speck of musical interest in Schuman's Toccata. Islamey is vastly more musically interesting, and that's not saying much.
_________________________
Currently Studying: Bach - English Suite No. 5; Beethoven - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - 3rd Scherzo

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#1368974 - 02/08/10 08:43 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Orange Soda King]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
LOL! Isn't that hysterical?! You've gotta LOVE Ludwig!
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1368998 - 02/08/10 09:05 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: MarkH]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: MarkH
Tchaikovsky The Seasons and Grand Sonata have always seemed embarrassingly puerile to me.


I'm glad to find I'm not alone. I was miserable when I was learning 2 of The Seasons. I finally begged for mercy and was allowed to drop them. Tchaikovsky wrote some lovely music but upon hearing a piece of his for the first time, I instantly identify it as his - very stylized.

I've been listening to Beethoven's sonatas - most of them for the first time. I'm probably going to take a lot of grief for this, but I think most are nice, but not stunning. I do like Beethoven and I love some of his symphonies, but he's far from my favorite composer and I rarely listen to his music. (Slinking away...)
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1369013 - 02/08/10 09:20 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: MarkH]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
MarkH, if it is availiable to stream for free somewhere on the Internet, I shall give it a listen.

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#1369014 - 02/08/10 09:21 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: gooddog]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I've been listening to Beethoven's sonatas - most of them for the first time. I'm probably going to take a lot of grief for this, but I think most are nice, but not stunning. I do like Beethoven and I love some of his symphonies, but he's far from my favorite composer and I rarely listen to his music. (Slinking away...)


No need to slink, Deborah. smile There's been a lot of music in my life that started off as "nice, but not stunning". And then, as you listen to it over a period of time, its greatness sort of... seeps into your mind. This happened for me recently with Don Giovanni. Maybe it will happen for you with the Beethoven, over time!


-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1369027 - 02/08/10 09:31 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Slink on, ye blasphemer!!! =p Just kidding.

I, personally, can't fathom NOT being blown away by Beethoven (aka God), but to each his own.
I really have to agree with on the Tchak Sonate. Even hearing Bronfman, play it in recital somewhat recently didn't do much to change my opinion.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1369030 - 02/08/10 09:34 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
For me, it's the pianist performing the Beethoven piece that makes me like it. I never was super crazy about the Pathetique, Waldstein, Appassionata, or Hammerlkavier until I heard Gilels. My piano teacher does my favorite Op. 111, and Gilels also does an amazing 109 and 110. Heck, Gilels is my man for most sonatas (Op. 2 No. 2 and 3). Not so sure about Op. 10 No. 2 or Op. 22, but I play both of those so that's different... Haha.

MarkH, I am listening to Christopher Shih play Totentanz for solo piano, and it's pretty good. I change my opinion. However, I still like the concerto version more. smile

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#1369038 - 02/08/10 09:45 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Orange Soda King]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1467
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
Beethoven Op 49! Here's to it going the way of Pluto.

Daniel
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#1369041 - 02/08/10 09:48 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: MarkH]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8885
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: MarkH

Tchaikovsky The Seasons and Grand Sonata have always seemed embarrassingly puerile to me.

The Seasons: musical pancakes. T's publisher had to remind him every month that his 'season' was due. I doubt T wasted any time on them, though there are a few keepers amongst the chaff.

The Grand Sonata takes a Richter to make sense of it, otherwise it's mostly bombast and the inspiration surprisingly tepid. I think it almost required repertoire for Russian students -maybe only they can understand it- but western pianists seem content to give it a miss.

Chopin's Tarentella isn't exactly one of his masterpieces (he did set the bar rather high), and I well remember a classmate of mine blubbering loudly at a party after a few drinks: 'that's the one piece Chopin bombed out on!'

Personally I think Schumann's Arabesque a rather tiresome piece of fluff, and although I adore the great F# minor Sonata, the Intermezzo of the Scherzo doesn't match the white-hot inspiration of the rest of the sonata.
_________________________
Jason

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#1369108 - 02/08/10 11:41 PM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
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IMO many of the clunkers listed so far are great pieces and even masterpieces.

The slow movement of Schuberts D.959 Sonata is one of the saddest and most profound works ever. One has to hear it more than once to get used to the highly unusual ff improvisatory sections.

Almost all the Beethoven Sonatas are IMO masterpieces of the highest level, and even the two from Op.49 are very good as Sonatinas.

I think about half of Tchaikovsky's Seasons are masterpieces but the rest are just average. The Sonata is for me the best candidate so far for clunker status.

I think the solo Liszt Totentanz is quite terrific and have heard it performed in two competitions.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/08/10 11:58 PM)

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#1369136 - 02/09/10 12:31 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: pianoloverus]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Beethoven's Rondo - rage over a lost penny.. really, come on now....

Or Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody. aiejrlsjsfgj.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1369137 - 02/09/10 12:32 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: pianoloverus]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Well, we're all going to disagree, and there's probably no real point in trying to convince anyone else of this sort of thing.


Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Almost all the Beethoven Sonatas are IMO masterpieces of the highest level, and even the two from Op.49 are very good as Sonatinas.
I purposely made a distinction between op.49 #1 and #2. The G minor sonata is a small wonder, whether you want to think of it as a sonata or a sonatina or whatever. The G major sonata, to my ears, is a triviality. Of course, in general, the Beethoven sonatas are masterpieces; no one's going to disagree with you there.


Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The slow movement of Schuberts D.959 Sonata is one of the saddest and most profound works ever. One has to hear it more than once to get used to the highly unusual ff improvisatory sections.
As I said, I've been listening to it for ten years. I didn't make my comment casually. I don't lightly identify a possible clunker of a section sitting inside a profound musical utterance.

Did you start this thread because you were interested in the diversity of opinions out there, or because you wanted to see how many people would submit correct answers? smile


-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1369139 - 02/09/10 12:34 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Pogorelich.]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
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Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: AngelinaPogorelich
Beethoven's Rondo - rage over a lost penny.. really, come on now....


Any chance this recording can change your mind? smile




-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1369142 - 02/09/10 12:40 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
I've seen that.. I just think the composition is silly =)
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1369144 - 02/09/10 12:42 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6101
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I wonder if it is sometimes BAD PERFORMANCES that convince people a particular piece is bad, while the piece itself is not bad?
For a 14-year old composer, that Nocturne by Rach is great.... For me at least...
I have been listening to the same recording as Jason, and I think it is beautiful....
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1369154 - 02/09/10 01:11 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: ChopinAddict]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
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Loc: San Jose, CA
The Four Fugues by Robert Schumann, Op 72. Absolutely the worst, most monotonous and dullest music ever to be written by a great composer. Even Richter can't make it interesting. How he wrote this, the Symphony in C major, and the Piano Concerto in the same year boggles my mind.

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#1369155 - 02/09/10 01:13 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
The first thing I think of, fairly or not, is Beethoven's Wellington's Victory Symphony. I've never had the heart to listen to it carefully, though. Can it really be as bad as everyone says?.....

I'd recommend giving it another listen, although I'm not sure I'd say "carefully." smile

I like it quite a bit, although some of it is to laugh at.

Quote:
And then....I can't decide if the middle section of the second movement of Schubert's great A major sonata (D. 959) is a vision of genius, or a clunker. For ten years, I've been unable to decide. smile

Clunker smile
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1369161 - 02/09/10 01:19 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
.....Chopin's Tarentella isn't exactly one of his masterpieces (he did set the bar rather high), and I well remember a classmate of mine blubbering loudly at a party after a few drinks: 'that's the one piece Chopin bombed out on!'

When performed well, it's electrifying.
I've even done well with it. ha

Quote:
.....Personally I think Schumann's Arabesque a rather tiresome piece of fluff....

Maybe indeed you just don't like the piece but I wonder if it doesn't depend on the performance. Most performances have made me feel as you said, but when done beautifully, I find it quite the opposite.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1369162 - 02/09/10 01:20 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Pogorelich.]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: AngelinaPogorelich
Beethoven's Rondo - rage over a lost penny.. really, come on now....

IMO, a masterpiece of wit and much else.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1369164 - 02/09/10 01:22 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: ChopinAddict]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
I wonder if it is sometimes BAD PERFORMANCES that convince people a particular piece is bad, while the piece itself is not bad?....

Yes -- as I also said about 1 or 2 of the pieces on here. (If I'd seen your post, I wouldn't have had to.) smile
Some pieces depend more than others on a very good performance, and I think that goes for some of these.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1369202 - 02/09/10 02:57 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: Mark_C]
RogerW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 439
Not perhaps a clunker, too many people seems to like the piece, but personally I cannot stand Chopin's Berceuse. It bores me to death. On the other hand, it might be that it is one of the best lullabies ever written, since I usually want to fall asleep already a few bars into the piece...

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#1369204 - 02/09/10 03:02 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: RogerW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Here's something that might help keep you awake: realize that if you don't read very well, it looks like "Because."

So just be thinking:
Why do I have to keep hearing this piece? Because.
Why does it have to be so slow? Because.
Why can't they at least play it better? Because. smile
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1369249 - 02/09/10 06:42 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: pianoloverus]
lacrymosa85 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 77
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I really like the Rach nocturne.

As for my contribution, Rachmaninoff concerto 4? I'm probably going to be flamed for saying that. I guess, to me, it falls short in comparison to his other three concerti.
_________________________
A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.

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#1369252 - 02/09/10 06:53 AM Re: Clunkers by the great composers [Re: beet31425]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19335
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Did you start this thread because you were interested in the diversity of opinions out there, or because you wanted to see how many people would submit correct answers? smile
Well I agree there are certainly no right or wrong answers, but I was shocked by some of the replies because for me some of the choices were excellent pieces that I would have never considered even close to the "clunker" category.

Maybe is should have spelled out more clearly what I was thinking about when I used the word "clunker". I didn't mean just one of the composer's weaker pieces(a weak piece by a great composer can still be very good), but a piece that was so poor one is almost shocked that the composer could have written it. That is how I felt about the Rachmaninov Romance I mentioned in the OP even taking into account it was a piece of juvenalia.

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