What's so bad about Islamey?

Posted by: Goomer Piles

What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 09:26 PM

It seems to be commonly thought of as vulgar or lacking in musical worth. Is it? Why? Some people are preconditioned to dislike it even if they've never heard it and have never seen the score. Why?

To fans of the piece: what do you like about it? How do you defend it to its many detractors, or do you bother? Is it just a question of taste, or is there something more going on?

Are there other pieces in standard piano repertoire that are so polarizing?
Posted by: gooddog

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 09:47 PM

I wouldn't say I'm a fan but I do find it interesting. It's not something I would listen to on my own or learn, but when it's on the radio, I listen through it rather than turning it off. Kinda' luke warm.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:12 PM

Goomer,

You mention the people who are "preconditioned to dislike it even if they've never heard it", and you address the people who are "fans of the piece".

Don't forget the rest of us: the ones who know the piece, and hate it. I find it without substance and in your face-- an unfortunate combination.

-J
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:35 PM

My only criticsm of Islamey is I find it a little repetitious. Otherwise I quite like it. I don't think there's any common agreement among PW posters about this piece. Even if there is it would represent too small a number of people(a very high percentage of posts is done by a very small number of posters) to be of any significance.

I don't see much difference conceptually between Islamey and a piece like a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody except that most of the Liszt Rhapsodies are a little better at achieving the same goal.
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:38 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Goomer,

You mention the people who are "preconditioned to dislike it even if they've never heard it", and you address the people who are "fans of the piece".

Don't forget the rest of us: the ones who know the piece, and hate it. I find it without substance and in your face-- an unfortunate combination.

-J

I meant to address the rest of you at the start! smile

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
It seems to be commonly thought of as vulgar or lacking in musical worth. Is it? Why?

I know some people feel as you do about some of Liszt's works, for example, but that's a controversial thing to say because Liszt is a top-tier composer. Is Islamey more easily scorned because Balakirev is not one?

p.s. Posted before I saw pianoloverus mention Liszt.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:39 PM

double post
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:43 PM

Yes, I see that you find it repetitious, ... repetitious, ...
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:47 PM

I don't think it's a bad piece at all. It's not a masterpiece/staple in my opinion, but I think it's a perfectly fine and fun piece.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I don't think it's a bad piece at all. It's not a masterpiece/staple in my opinion, but I think it's a perfectly fine and fun piece.

If it were easier, it would be a great piece. The problem is that it's so difficult and really isn't worth the effort you put in to learn it, unless you have superb technique (which many do nowadays grin ).
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 10:57 PM

My one criticism of Islamey is that it is repetitious and has an ugly melody. I mean, my two criticisms of Islamey is that it is repetitious, has an ugly melody, and an equally ugly counter melody. I mean, my three criticisms of Islamey is ... Seriously, I have hated the piece for years before I ever heard it mentioned and I'm shocked and angered when anyone enjoys it.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:00 PM

HAHAHAHAhahahaha...hahaha...ha..

Hilarious.

(Not.)
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
My one criticism of Islamey is that it is repetitious and has an ugly melody.....

It has a "melody"? grin

90% serious, despite the smiley.

I mean, I know that it goes "da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da....." but I never thought of that as a melody.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:09 PM

While I agree the first part isn't the greatest melody, it gives a percussive feel that is interesting. I find the slower middle section quite beautiful. Definitely not a masterpiece, but worth a listen when played well.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:14 PM

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
....it gives a percussive feel that is interesting....

I don't particularly like that kind of music, and even when I do, there are other composers and pieces that do it much better and more interestingly. Without trying, I can think of any number of things by Prokofiev and Bartok....
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:17 PM

I like the middle section, but the rest is kinda lame. Oh, the coda's pretty cool too. But it's not even all that exciting anyways, especially when you compare it to something like Scarbo.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
It seems to be commonly thought of as vulgar or lacking in musical worth. Is it? Why? Some people are preconditioned to dislike it even if they've never heard it and have never seen the score. Why?

To fans of the piece: what do you like about it? How do you defend it to its many detractors, or do you bother? Is it just a question of taste, or is there something more going on?

Are there other pieces in standard piano repertoire that are so polarizing?

I think it's got a couple things going for it. Most listeners seem to believe it is one of the most technically challenging works out there, and younger pianists will even approach it this way. And yes, it is technically challenging, so that is the first thing. Many people who attempt to tackle the piece can't get past the technical challenges to the music.

And that's where the real challenge is--the music. There are so many middle lines, inner melodies, and nuances, that it takes a truly seasoned veteran to bring them all to light.

I know when I first tried to learn the piece, I didn't have nearly enough technique to approach it, and while I could hear the music the way I wanted to play it, I couldn't make that happen in my fingers. It took me something like 7 years to come back to it and do it justice.

I consider Islamey to be like beer. Once you acquire a taste for it, you almost can't live without it. But the first time you try it, it kind of tastes like cat [censored]. wink


Let me address some of my ideas based on some of the criticisms in the thread. (I am not doing this to sway anyone's opinion. Some people have very clearly illuminated ideas I could not say any better, and I want to bounce off those ideas.)

Originally Posted By: beet31425
I find it without substance and in your face-- an unfortunate combination.

This is kind of what I meant early on-- so many pianists tackle it as an in-your-face technical challenge that the music itself is lost. I didn't really like the piece until I started playing around with the score and found the nuances that appealed to me.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
My only criticsm of Islamey is I find it a little repetitious. Otherwise I quite like it. I don't think there's any common agreement among PW posters about this piece. Even if there is it would represent too small a number of people(a very high percentage of posts is done by a very small number of posters) to be of any significance.

I don't see much difference conceptually between Islamey and a piece like a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody except that most of the Liszt Rhapsodies are a little better at achieving the same goal.

Another big issue, and I really like the Liszt example. I might even throw in La Campanella, too, in that it is very repetitious, and only carries a few themes. I believe Islamey was constructed as a fantasy based on two Oriental themes, and they do repeat several times. There's actually an optional cut towards the end of the score to cut a few pages (and one or two repetitions) out, though I don't remember what editor made the suggestion. I'd almost call it a theme and variation, or a fugue, except it doesn't vary enough, and there isn't really any counterpoint. (Would that be fair to say?)
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
but I never thought of that as a melody.


Why not?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
I like the middle section, but the rest is kinda lame. Oh, the coda's pretty cool too. But it's not even all that exciting anyways, especially when you compare it to something like Scarbo.

And compare the musical material to something like the first movement of Chopin's Op 58 and it looks like Chopsticks.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:22 PM

They're often compared when it comes to technical difficulty, because Ravel apparently tried to write something harder than Islamey and came up with Scarbo (as you probably know....).

Though back to chopsticks..well, that's the point right? It's not supposed to be some sort of deep masterpiece anyways.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:23 PM

I prefer deep masterpieces. grin
Posted by: beet31425

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:27 PM

Islamey's main theme sounds like a childhood taunt. Best left in the 3rd grade schoolyard.


-J
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....Though back to chopsticks..well, that's the point right? It's not supposed to be some sort of deep masterpiece anyways.

Then it needs to be shorter. smile

Good rule of thumb about art: Say what you've got to say, then quit.

So.....how much too-long is Islamey? grin

IMO about 7 and a half minutes.

It was news to me to find that it gets played any amount. None of my colleagues anywhere played it nor had I come across it in any performances till the amateur competitions -- i.e. not that long ago. And I've been surprised how much it pops up on this site. For example, we see more recordings and much more discussion of it than of (just for some disparate examples) Chopin's F minor Fantaisie, Beethoven's Op. 78 sonata, Bach's Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue, Mozart's A minor sonata, Schumann's Carnaval....

Am I saying it gets way more attention here than it deserves?
Yes. smile
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
So.....how much too-long is Islamey? grin

IMO about 7 and a half minutes.

Then Chopsticks must be a better piece, because it's only 10 seconds too long! grin

By the way, I was just thinking we need another Pianist Corner thread on the Chopin Op 58. Heck, I could create a whole site about that piece.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:43 PM

A poll might (possibly?) reveal that younger (males?) like Islamey, but that the older one is the less one likes it. Since I'm probably one of the oldest regular contributors here, and if there's any validity to my hypothesis, that fact alone should indicate just what I feel about Islamey!

To clarify : it's repetitive, it's bombastic, it's virtuosity for virtuosity's sake, it's seemingly endless, and it has no redeeming musical worth - IMHO, understood!

Cheers!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:46 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
A poll might (possibly?) reveal that the older one is, the less one likes Islamey. Since I'm probably one of the oldest regulars here, that should tell those you who don't already know just what I feel about Islamey!

Cheers!

It has less to do with age than musical maturity. Young, inexperienced amateurs/college students say "Look! A piece that's difficult to play! I can impress everybody with this masterpiece! What brilliance!" They don't see the lack of musical material until it's too late-they've already learned it. grin
Posted by: John Pels

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:53 PM

Bruce, I disagree, I loved the piece when I was 20 and I'm now 57. It could be a general lack of maturity and certainly my wife might agree. I just think it's good fun and I love the lush middle section. I was taken in by Brendel's recording and haven't heard one that I like as well in the intervening years. It's easier to find recordings of it these days, but most don't do it justice.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:56 PM

I think I tend to agree with Polyphonist regarding age... I know quite a few young people who don't like it. However, most of them are females. smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/24/13 11:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
It has less to do with age than musical maturity. Young, inexperienced amateurs/college students say "Look! A piece that's difficult to play! I can impress everybody with this masterpiece! What brilliance!" They don't see the lack of musical material until it's too late-they've already learned it. grin

Then I guess young people 40 years ago were more mature than they are now. grin
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 01:13 AM

I like readings that capture the folk/dance element and aren't taken too terribly fast. Among the YouTube offerings, I think Terrence Judd's is excellent. Gavrilov's is decent. Not a fan of Berezovsky's.
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 01:20 AM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Islamey's main theme sounds like a childhood taunt. Best left in the 3rd grade schoolyard.



It's a folk dance tune from the Caucasus.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Islamey's main theme sounds like a childhood taunt....

....but of course not all such pieces are best left in the 3rd grade schoolyard.... grin

Piece by my former teacher....and by remarkable coincidence ha (really, basically) happens to be my current teacher playing....

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 06:07 AM

Islamey is meant to be a brilliant and exciting but not profound technical display/show off piece. Criticizing for lack of profundity or comparing to supreme masterpieces like Chopin Sonata Op. 58 or Scarbo makes little sense IMO. It's meant to include virtuosity for virtuosity's sake and be bombastic...just like a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody or many pieces from the transcription literature (Volodos' Variations on Rondo Alla Turca, Grunfeld Waltz transcriptions, Gounud Liszt Faust Waltz, etc.). I think both the fast theme and slow middle section theme are extremely good but that the fast theme is repeated too much especially in the third section.
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:46 AM

I just don't think it's worth all the time and trouble it takes to learn it... why not learn Rach 3 instead.. or Liszt sonata... much more substantial pieces.
Posted by: Brendan

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:46 AM

Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft

For 8 minutes
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:47 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Islamey is meant to be a brilliant and exciting but not profound technical display/show off piece. Criticizing for lack of profundity or comparing to supreme masterpieces like Chopin Sonata Op. 58 or Scarbo makes little sense IMO. It's meant to include virtuosity for virtuosity's sake and be bombastic...just like a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody or many pieces from the transcription literature (Volodos' Variations on Rondo Alla Turca, Grunfeld Waltz transcriptions, Gounud Liszt Faust Waltz, etc.). I think both the fast theme and slow middle section theme are extremely good but that the fast theme is repeated too much especially in the third section.



I thought everyone knew it's devilishly difficult and therefore that's why most people play it? It's pretty hard technically... very awkward and uncomfortable to play.
Posted by: Gerard12

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Islamey's main theme sounds like a childhood taunt....

....but of course not all such pieces are best left in the 3rd grade schoolyard.... grin
Piece by my former teacher....and by remarkable coincidence ha (really, basically) happens to be my current teacher playing....


I hope that I'm not hijacking by saying "Thank you for posting that clip, Mark_C! Beautiful piece and performance....."
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:55 AM

By the way, why isn't Balakirev's Piano Sonata more widely played? I find it fresh and well written.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:09 AM

some wrote rather harsh things about Islamey. I like it, it's a masterpiece, the first real 'Russian' rhapsody, no wonder Liszt had it on his piano all the time, no wonder it got it's status as 'unplayable, savage' , no wonder people don't like it as they just can't play it...It's orientalism is the same as 'Sheherazade's' by Rimsky or 'Lesghinka's' by Lyapunov, one might listen to 'Tamar' by the same author for surprise's sake...it's technique is a novelty, it doesn't strive for great depth, don't blame it for not doing so.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Brendan
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft

For 8 minutes

lollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollol
lollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollollol

what?

I'll be honest that in music I'm turned off by two general issues:
a. Too much technical difficulty for the shake of making it difficult.
b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).

Islamey fits the above categories so well that I can't stand it. And to think that I heard the whole work on that previous thread and wasn't aware of it before hand...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:16 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
....a. Too much technical difficulty for the shake of making it difficult....

Extremely well said!!! grin

(Even if it wasn't exactly on purpose.) ha
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
I just don't think it's worth all the time and trouble it takes to learn it... why not learn Rach 3 instead.. or Liszt sonata... much more substantial pieces.


But (Rach 3 and Liszt Sonata) are also a lot harder! And longer.

And why not?? It's perfectly fine to have less-than-masterpiece works in your rep. laugh
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:52 AM

because musically it's not satisfying to her perhaps?

Just sayin'...
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
But (Rach 3 and Liszt Sonata) are also a lot harder! And longer.

Many would disagree with you that the Liszt Sonata is technically harder than Islamey, disregarding length.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:16 AM

The world of classical music would be pretty boring if every note had to count for something (what was that Emperor Joseph II said about a Mozart opera? wink ). Once you've reached a certain standard of technical proficiency, a certain fascination with difficulties for their own sake is no bad thing: it encourages the acquisition of more technical armory which leads to dividends in the long term with simpler music. Noone would claim that Paganini's Caprices are great music like Bach's Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin are, but their difficulties are precisely the reason great violinists are fascinated enough to want to play them.

Personally, I find that that the pieces I choose to keep in my memorized repertoire (not the same as the majority of pieces I actually learn to play, but not memorize) are those with technical difficulties that are a delight to play again and again, just as a runner enjoys the exhilarating sense of exertion as he pushes himself hard up a hill, or sprinting for the finish.

While Islamey doesn't encompass quite the range of technical difficulties as Scarbo (and is a lot more repetitive), one can safely say that if you have the chops to do it full justice, you've got a technique better than 99.99% of pianists. Add to that its charming Russian folksiness, the fact that it actually looks fiendishly difficult, and a conclusion that you can really go to town with (hopefully eliciting some 'Bravo's/'Brava's from the audience grin), and you have everything you need for a great showpiece.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Brendan
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft
Two bars loud, two bars soft

For 8 minutes

Perhaps that's why Horowitz played it in 7 minutes? To get it done more quickly? laugh


pianoloverus- I think you're right about the 3rd section.. it seems like he did it to balance the work, almost mathematically, so the tranquillo is split relatively evenly.. but to me, it just starts to get a little long at that point. (Probably why there's the optional cut.)


Originally Posted By: bennevis
The world of classical music would be pretty boring if every note had to count for something (what was that Emperor Joseph II said about a Mozart opera? wink ).

What was it Mozart said back to the Emperor? smile
Posted by: bennevis

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux

What was it Mozart said back to the Emperor? smile


The same as what Balakirev said to all those naysayers about his Oriental Fantasy: "Only as many as I require, Your Honor". (Substitute the Russian equivalent of 'you duffers!" for 'Your Honor' in his case wink - Mili Alexeyevich wasn't known for his diplomatic skills....).
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:03 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
The world of classical music would be pretty boring if every note had to count for something <snip>. Noone would claim that Paganini's Caprices are great music like Bach's Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin are, but their difficulties are precisely the reason great violinists are fascinated enough to want to play them.

Personally, I find that that the pieces I choose to keep in my memorized repertoire (not the same as the majority of pieces I actually learn to play, but not memorize) are those with technical difficulties that are a delight to play again and again, just as a runner enjoys the exhilarating sense of exertion as he pushes himself hard up a hill, or sprinting for the finish.

I find an important point in here. There's a difference between music that's difficult for the sake of being difficult (Islamey) and music that's difficult but also entertaining (Pagannini's Caprices) and finally music that is difficult but also has gravitas (Bach Sonatas and Partitas). If Islamey has a problem it's that it's a bit too repetitious and in the process loses some of its entertainment value. Then there's music like Sorabji which is just difficult and the only appeal is that it's difficult and for me the problem then is that it's only fascinating for a short period of time. Sadly, most of Sorabji's music is far too long by several orders of magnitude.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Then there's music like Sorabji which is just difficult and the only appeal is that it's difficult and for me the problem then is that it's only fascinating for a short period of time. Sadly, most of Sorabji's music is far too long by several orders of magnitude.

(Sorry to be OT for a moment, and I've said this before: but for me, discovering Sorabji was life-changing! Try some of his 100 Transcendental Etudes, many of which are on YouTube. Difficulty is *not* the only appeal. These are fascinating pieces. I sometimes think that the length of his "Opus Clavicembalisticum" (which I don't really know) has made him something of a punch-line, much as 4'33" did with Cage.)
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
If Islamey has a problem it's that it's a bit too repetitious and in the process loses some of its entertainment value.

I would also object for this reason (more so than being "difficult for the sake of being difficult"). I do find it to be repetitious, and it definitely brushes up on that borderline of "too much repetition".

But I'm not sure I would agree that it is difficult for the sake of being difficult. It doesn't seem to have any particularly bombastic technical sections that add nothing more than a technical challenge to the piece (where I think select measures in Liszt pieces, particularly the transcendental etudes, do this frequently).

Perhaps this has more to do with my unfamiliarity with composing, though. I've admitted that before, and I still offer it freely now. smile I'm interested, Steve: what do you see from a composer's standpoint that makes it seem like Balakirev wrote it purely for the sake of being difficult?
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:51 PM

Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.


Why? Do you not know the meaning of the word "oriental"?
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:58 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.


Why? Do you not know the meaning of the word "oriental"?

If you consider the Caucasus or the Crimea 'Oriental', I believe it is you who doesn't know the meaning of the word. And if you don't know where the subtitle came from, what motivated you to make such a condescending reply?
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 03:59 PM

Depends on where are you from, no?
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 04:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Depends on where are you from, no?

To me, it means of the Far East. Even if it means 'Near East' or 'Middle East', it's certainly Asia. But the Crimea is in Europe and the Caucasus straddles the 'boundary' of Europe and Asia - so I think the term 'Oriental Fantasy' is a big stretch.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 04:19 PM

I think that given the time when Islamey was composed, it must've sounded quite oriental... :-/ It is a big stretch by todays standards, but back then I think it was perfectly fine. (plus I 'named' it "ethinc" a few posts back, which goes to show that it gives out a rather non classical feeling)
Posted by: antony

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 05:41 PM

I don't actually know the piece but my "Islamey" would be Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 06:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas

I'll be honest that in music I'm turned off by two general issues:
a. Too much technical difficulty for the shake of making it difficult.
b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).



Given that there is a vast amount of classical music with a pretty strong ethnic flavor, from Chopin's mazurkas and polonaises to Bartok's folk arrangements (actually, much of Bartok, come to think of it), it is a bit surprising to hear that you have some kind of problem with it.
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
no wonder people don't like it as they just can't play it...


That makes no sense.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Depends on where are you from, no?

To me, it means of the Far East. Even if it means 'Near East' or 'Middle East', it's certainly Asia. But the Crimea is in Europe and the Caucasus straddles the 'boundary' of Europe and Asia - so I think the term 'Oriental Fantasy' is a big stretch.

"Orient" means "East". The Near East is widely regarded as the extent of the Ottoman Empire, which included both Crimea and Caucasia. I think, today, most people consider the Far East to mean the "Orient", but at the time, that wasn't necessarily the case.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 08:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.


Why? Do you not know the meaning of the word "oriental"?

If you consider the Caucasus or the Crimea 'Oriental', I believe it is you who doesn't know the meaning of the word. And if you don't know where the subtitle came from, what motivated you to make such a condescending reply?


In other words, you do not know that "oriental" means "eastern." To people in Europe at the time, anywhere to the east of Europe was "oriental."
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:03 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Does anyone know if the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' came from Balakirev? Considering the roots of the tunes in the Caucasus and the Crimea, it seems inappropriate and even misleading.


Why? Do you not know the meaning of the word "oriental"?

If you consider the Caucasus or the Crimea 'Oriental', I believe it is you who doesn't know the meaning of the word. And if you don't know where the subtitle came from, what motivated you to make such a condescending reply?


In other words, you do not know that "oriental" means "eastern." To people in Europe at the time, anywhere to the east of Europe was "oriental."

Does your status of 18,000-plus posts give you the right to be as rude as you wish, I wonder? Does your one-upmanship and snottiness make you feel good?

AGAIN - and this excludes people who apparently can not read and are here only to insult - is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:32 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
...his [Sorabji's] "Opus Clavicembalisticum" (which I don't really know)

...and I don't blame you for not knowing it. You would have to leave your job and your home and live in isolation as a hermit for about 25 years.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

I don't consider the themes to originate in the Orient, so I think that's a matter of opinion. I don't hear anything 'oriental' in Islamey.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 09:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

...so I think that's a matter of opinion.

And it is...
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:29 PM

It is also a matter of geography. From where I am, Japan and China are mostly Occidental. The Orient starts more toward the region where the themes came from, and includes all of Europe.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:33 PM

For those of you who are traveling, do not take the Orient Express expecting to get to China. It never went beyond Istanbul.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas

b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).


Can you expand on this? I'm generally interested as to why you can't stand "ethnic music," considering some of the best music in the world is folk music and ethnic music. Do you just not like it when it influences a classical composition?

Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm just fascinated by that response since I am the complete opposite. Much of my life has been spent studying, enjoying and playing different musics from around the world, including Spain, Portugal, India, Japan to name a few. This is some of the richest music there is and many times is as deep and profoundly moving as anything.

Again, you are entitled to your tastes and opinion, but I'd like you to expand on that if you don't mind. grin
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 10:44 PM

Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I'm not sure, but the title fits in any case.

I don't consider the themes to originate in the Orient, so I think that's a matter of opinion. I don't hear anything 'oriental' in Islamey.


I think that the "oriental" of the subtitle was likely not meant literally, but more as part of that European vogue/idiom that is now often called "orientalism", meaning that it had a certain exotic and "Eastern" flavor for "Westerners", regardless of actual geographic or cultural origin.

I haven't come across any references that say the subtitle was not Balakirev's own.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?


I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that Bartok, that supreme musical ethnologist, disparaged Chopin's mazurkas for not having authentic enough ethnic elements. Musical gems of course, but (I think he thought) with crudely deployed folk elements.

-J
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:04 PM

Originally Posted By: wr
I think that the "oriental" of the subtitle was likely not meant literally, but more as part of that European vogue/idiom that is now often called "orientalism", meaning that it had a certain exotic and "Eastern" flavor for "Westerners", regardless of actual geographic or cultural origin.

I haven't come across any references that say the subtitle was not Balakirev's own.

Thanks for your thoughtful and sensible answer.

According to some calculations, I apparently live in the Orient (of the U.S.). I did not know that!
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:19 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Apparently he also hates Chopin's mazurkas, since he hates all "ethnic" music, right?


I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that Bartok, that supreme musical ethnologist, disparaged Chopin's mazurkas for not having authentic enough ethnic elements. Musical gems of course, but (I think he thought) with crudely deployed folk elements.

-J


Interesting, but I can see where Bartok is coming from. Isn't that like the Hungarian Rhapsodies? (I might be mixing the piece up). Weren't they not based on folk themes but actual popular music of the day?

On another note, I love what Albeniz does with the influence of flamenco and other folk dances of Spain. He really works it in so naturally that you can almost pick out when he wants a certain melody to sound like a voice in a saeta, and which rhythms are supposed to be strummed guitars.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:55 PM

Before I answer this I will completely disregard polyphonists trolling. wink

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Originally Posted By: Nikolas

b. Ethnic music. (and I'm Greek and have composed some things that appear a tiny bit ethnic, but I hope not too much).


Can you expand on this? I'm generally interested as to why you can't stand "ethnic music," considering some of the best music in the world is folk music and ethnic music. Do you just not like it when it influences a classical composition?

Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm just fascinated by that response since I am the complete opposite. Much of my life has been spent studying, enjoying and playing different musics from around the world, including Spain, Portugal, India, Japan to name a few. This is some of the richest music there is and many times is as deep and profoundly moving as anything.

Again, you are entitled to your tastes and opinion, but I'd like you to expand on that if you don't mind. grin
I'm coming off from a completely different side of music than most of you. Not only because I'm a composer, but because I've been working in the computer games industry from a bit less than a decade.

'Ethnic' music comes in many flavours, but in computer games it usually means using samples with some ethnic instruments (Chinese, Greek, Asian in a more general sense) and having some kind of percussion loop on the bottom. A very superficial kind of way that gets me unfortunately.

Try to get here: http://www.soundsonline.com/Ra and listen to the right music player a few examples to see what I mean.

Now, on classical music we get an attempt to somehow fake things (into the piano in this case). Some things are very real, successful and fine, others not.

But I'm still not sure why I got such a reaction for my post. I already said that I'm Greek, so half the stuff I listen to every day (Greek music lets say) by definition is ethnic to you guys. And I did mention that I'm wondering if my music is influenced by ethnic flavours (which I bet it is, but as I said, I hope not too much)...

Originally Posted By: beet
I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.
Exactly right, but I don't really care about polyphponis one bit. He's proven himself to be the kind that I want to avoid in forums, so no problem. The rest of you probably know me too well to judge me that harsh.

But it's exactly what I said above. And if Bartok said that Chopins music wasn't "ethnic enough" I can also say that, can't I? Remember, again, that I'm Greek and thus it was brought to the table that Chopin is the definition of classical music, pretty much.

Goomer: Don't stick too strongly on the definition of the word! It was used to provide some idea of setting the piece apart from other music of the time, that's all. (at least I think so). It wasn't an attempt to give very specific origins to the music or anything like that. (I think)
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:56 PM

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing

Interesting, but I can see where Bartok is coming from. Isn't that like the Hungarian Rhapsodies? (I might be mixing the piece up). Weren't they not based on folk themes but actual popular music of the day?



The thing with the HRs is a bit more complicated than that - per Walker, the tunes originally came from both pop and folk sources, but as reinterpreted by Romani musicians.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/25/13 11:58 PM

It was less of "pigeonholing" than a joke, Nikolas. I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet.

And although there are many trolls on this forum, I am not one of them. wink
Posted by: carey

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:02 AM

Per Poly - "I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet."

Gee - I'm a little surprised to see this statement coming from you. crazy
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:03 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
Per Poly - "I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet."

Gee - I'm a little surprised to see this statement coming from you. crazy

...and why is that?
Posted by: carey

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:17 AM

Poly - you might want to refer back to my rather lengthy post on the prior Islamey thread....... But let's just let it go. smile
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
It was less of "pigeonholing" than a joke, Nikolas. I don't understand why people have such strong reactions to posts from random strangers on the Internet.

And although there are many trolls on this forum, I am not one of them. wink
Oh...

Ok...

I actually didn't get that! Sorry... :-/
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:22 AM

...
Posted by: bennevis

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 03:57 AM

Many great composers have been influenced by ethnic music, not just the obvious suspects like Bartok and Kodály.

Debussy was influenced by Javanese gamelan music ('Pagodes' from Estampes), and Ravel by Malaysian verse-form Pantoum in his Piano Trio. Not to mention Dvorák and Smetana.

And Orientalism abounds everywhere, in the form of pentatonic scales whenever the composer wants to convey some exotic place, like Puccini in Madama Butterfly.....
Posted by: Lemon Pledge

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 05:29 AM

It just occurred to me that Islamey might possibly be the only frequently-played solo work in the standard repertoire that I've never even bothered to read through, not once, not even partially. I guess that means I don't like it.
Posted by: Numerian

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 06:28 AM

In Mozart's day Orientalism primarly referred to Turkish music - as in The Abduction of the Seraglio, or the Turkish March, with its hint of drums and cymbals. European composers of the 19th century expanded the concept to include all of the Ottoman Empire, and so you get this sense of Orientalism meaning Arabic music - the Arabian Dance by Tchaikovsky.

I don't think European composers were very aware at all of Asia-Pacific music until late in the 19th century, during the Meiji Era when Japan opened up to the West, and the West established colonizing enclaves in China. As Bennevis said, this was the time French composers were discovering the gamelan of Indonesia.

As to Islamey, it fits in very well to the Russian notion of Orientalist music of its time - music of the Ottoman Empire and of Arabian caliphates. It's exotic and obviously crowd pleasing or it wouldn't continue to appear as an encore. If we don't like it here on the Forums, it's probably because of what somebody above said: as amateurs, we can't imagine putting the extensive amount of work in to master Islamey.
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 06:59 AM

Numerian, such an informative post with many interesting informations. Also, I didn't find any trolling at all, smile.

Seeing that this piece is a folk music, it has a very specific sound native to the region. As with all music, it takes time to get used to these different sounding music to the vast majority. I have not heard many pieces by him but, I am sure in the place where he originally came from, he is probably well known and appreciated more.
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 07:08 AM

I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 09:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas

Now, on classical music we get an attempt to somehow fake things (into the piano in this case). Some things are very real, successful and fine, others not.

But I'm still not sure why I got such a reaction for my post. I already said that I'm Greek, so half the stuff I listen to every day (Greek music lets say) by definition is ethnic to you guys. And I did mention that I'm wondering if my music is influenced by ethnic flavours (which I bet it is, but as I said, I hope not too much)...

Originally Posted By: beet
I think Nikolas's definition of "ethnic music" differs from yours. Let's not try to pigeonhole him quite so strongly.
Exactly right, but I don't really care about polyphponis one bit. He's proven himself to be the kind that I want to avoid in forums, so no problem. The rest of you probably know me too well to judge me that harsh.

But it's exactly what I said above. And if Bartok said that Chopins music wasn't "ethnic enough" I can also say that, can't I? Remember, again, that I'm Greek and thus it was brought to the table that Chopin is the definition of classical music, pretty much.


Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 09:49 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
I think another nuance in why some (not all) people think Islamey is not very good has to do with Balakirev's reputation as a composer - he's not generally considered one of the "greats", even if he played a very important role in the development of Russian music. He wrote other piano music, including a sonata, but most pianists have never seen nor heard of any of it. So I think he's considered second tier, at best, and some people simply shy away from music if it doesn't have that "great composer" label stamped on it somewhere. Their loss, IMO.

What's curious about Islamey is how many of the great pianists of the last 100 years have played and recorded it, in spite of the fact that it is not by a great piano composer - it may be unique in that way. And most of those pianists weren't particularly known for including total junk in their repertoire.

I thought of the same thing at the start of this thread! smile

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
I know some people feel as you [beet31424] do about some of Liszt's works, for example, but that's a controversial thing to say because Liszt is a top-tier composer. Is Islamey more easily scorned because Balakirev is not one?

Kreisler recommended a recording by Terence Judd on YouTube, and I think it's so good that I wanted to put up a direct link to it.

Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 10:16 AM

Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 10:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: didyougethathing
Ok, I think I get where you're coming from. You are not saying that you hate ethnic music, but don't like that it can be "faked" for the sake of creating a piece. (right?)

What about an obscure composer like Babadjanian, whose music is pretty much only informed by Armenian folk music? The reason I use this example is because in this case, I love the tonalities he uses so much that it made me explore the actual source music.

Check out his Cappricio if you haven't heard it. Superb stuff.
I know Babadjanian, as well as other Armenian composers (like David Balasanyan, or Vache Sharafyan and others).

While I was thinking about this thread, I was thinking about something else as well...

By definition composers like the ones I mention above and perhaps even me (while I doubt I sound like that) are rather 'ethnic'. We are not in central Europe and we have a rather strong tradition in music, but not western music. As such it comes somewhat "easy" (probably "natural" is a better word) to use traditional idioms in our music.

And it's only fair to do that.

But here comes the question: Do composers carry around their heritage? from where they live, where they grew, who their parents are? If so, is it possible for a composer, who is British (or Greek even worst I think) to successfully play Chinese music, with traditional instruments? And the opposite: Is it possible for a Japanese guy to come over the Balkans and dive into Balkan music?

I don't think it's impossible, but I can imagine that a very large percentage to try that will look a bit weird/funny... (no stats to back this up).

It's like some old Hollywood movies (or new ones now that I think about it): Caribbean Pirates: Orchestral music with a tiny bit of Caribbean flavour in for good measurement.

somehow Islamey sounds to me like something of the above (now that I've heard it a few times and have the right to comment on the music! :D)


I agree that Islamey sounds like a novelty. And as to your comment about a person of a different ethnic group/nationality learning another folk music, I studied flamenco in Spain years ago, and continue to play it. However, I don't play publicly as I'm not good enough. Nevertheless, I have seen non-Spanish play it effectively, although the rest of the performers were all Spanish.

To your point of composer's carrying around their nationality, I think this is true to an extent. Take the New World Symphony. I've read that most of the thematic material was not taken from American folk, but rather Czech, Dvorak's homeland! Perhaps it's unavoidable for some people.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:09 AM

I don't know if I'd ever be able to play indian music or something along those lines successfully. Balkans on the other hand a "a piece of cake" for me...

About classical music, and Greece is not exactly a home for such music, I think I've cultivated so many things to do with classical music that I'm a bit successful in that... :-/

But I think it's reasonable to think that we all carry around something from where we grew up and lived, etc...
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:25 AM

Ok. And to break the ice completely and ridicule various things, here's a video with Greek children's music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LGBLs_cTc-0

you can enjoy the music (Arabic due to the rhythm, but different continent due to the melodic and harmonic elements)
you can enjoy the video (india, Persia, a tiger and various other things)
and if you could understand Greek you would also enjoy the lyrics (About a Persian Prince going to India, and a Bengal tiger)!!!

Islamey is amazingly better than the above, but I hope you had a laugh with this video! wink
Posted by: bennevis

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:58 AM

From the ridiculous to the sublime (or should that be the other way round? grin ).....

A very English composer (despite his name).....

http://youtu.be/6Ede2QMi5JM

And the piano version (yes, I once played it myself.... blush) http://youtu.be/HMtoSfRmAXk
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:19 PM

Regarding ethnic music, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms wrote a lot of music inspired by music of their respective cultures, too. smile
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Regarding ethnic music, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms wrote a lot of music inspired by music of their respective cultures, too. smile


So did Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Scarlatti, and pretty much everybody else.

One thing about Russian composers in general is that they had beautiful themes, but they were not especially good at developing them. So there is a lot of repetition in their music. However, in the case of Islamey, I suspect that the sort of repetition that people here find objectionable is a characteristic of the music itself. It is the way that the melodies would be played when they were originally played on the kanun or similar instrument. You learn dances by repeating what someone else did, so you repeat the music so others can repeat the steps.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
....I suspect that the sort of repetition that people here find objectionable is a characteristic of the music itself. It is the way that the melodies would be played when they were originally played on the kanun or similar instrument. You learn dances by repeating what someone else did, so you repeat the music so others can repeat the steps.

I suspect that more of us would find it OK for dancing than for what it is.
(Serious.)
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 02:02 PM

How would one dance to this music? Would someone please demonstrate?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 02:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Schubertslieder
How would one dance to this music? Would someone please demonstrate?

Play it for any real young kid and I almost guarantee you'll find out real fast. grin
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 02:33 PM

I would assume dancing to this type of music would require certain amount of skill even to the natives.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 02:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Schubertslieder
I would assume dancing to this type of music would require certain amount of skill even to the natives.

No, just absence of inhibition!

Maybe you're talking about doing it in some "correct" way. I'm not. And IMO there isn't. grin

The main music that I've noticed to have this effect (on little kids) is Joplin rags. I'd think it's true almost to the same degree with Islamey, as long as it's played with pretty good rhythm.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 04:43 PM

Here is another Russian piece based on folk dance tunes with a lot of banging and repetition, by a later generation of Russian composer.



Do those of you who dislike Islamey dislike this, also? It might be an interesting comparison.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 07:57 PM

That's an arrangement of parts a much larger scale work, though. I do like that piece a lot (although, I can't say I'm the biggest fan of that performance).
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 09:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
That's an arrangement of parts a much larger scale work, though. I do like that piece a lot...

I do too, though IMO no substitute for the original or Stravinsky's later revision.

For the piano arrangement, Pollini set the bar enviably high.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 09:55 PM

I agree, Pollini is my favorite.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:04 PM

Does that mean it is a lousy piece that you only care for in one specific performance?
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:33 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
Does that mean it is a lousy piece that you only care for in one specific performance?

Don't know if that was addressed to OSK or me (or both), but I can quite assure you that I do NOT think it a lousy piece, and I have no idea why you might have questioned that.

I certainly have not heard all the recordings of Stravinsky's transcription, I am just saying that I thought Pollini's incredibly outstanding. I have heard a few less satisfactory, which cause me to appreciate Pollini all the more.

What is it with you, BDB, I do not question your musical knowledge -which I admire- just perhaps the cranky, combative and often condescending tone of some of your posts.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/26/13 11:50 PM

Well, I think that Stravinsky did a lot more than just to juxtapose Russian folk music tunes together... So, yes, I dislike Islamey much more than Petrushka.

I should note, however, that from the three major ballets of the same era by Stravinsky, I'm most fond of the Rite of Spring.

EDIT: A small question by me then.

This video, from Piano Stories, has no.3 "How to live in an underground home" at around 04:30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvrqRpZ63w4

To me it sounds rather Russian (or Jewish?!?!?!), or at least with ethnic flavours (and it was composed prior to 2000). Does anybody else hear that?
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 12:07 AM

I asked about the comparison between two pieces with similarities of the factors that some people say make them dislike one of them. Whether there is a good performance of one of them clouds the issue. I just want to clear the discussion of that static. After all, it could mean that there could be a performance of Islamey that would make people think it is a great piece.

If you think that makes me cranky, combative, or condescending, you are welcome to your own opinion of me. But I think you are just getting upset over my phrasing, just as the person who did not know what "orient" means.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:17 AM


Well that was not made clear:
Originally Posted By: BDB
I asked about the comparison between two pieces with similarities of the factors that some people say make them dislike one of them.

Nor was this:
Quote:
Does that mean it is a lousy piece that you only care for in one specific performance?

I took it as a reference to the Stravinsky. I have made no comments in this thread about the Balakirev, though I rather enjoy it FWIW. It was not until the Stravinsky issue came up that I elected to contribute to this thread.

BTW, I am not 'upset' over your phrasing -I think you give yourself too much credit- but I have seen you here a long time, and if I am used to the tone of your posts, I do not always think them appropriate. You would NEVER have got me on the 'oriental' thing, but I let that issue go, amusing as it was, I did not choose to get involved.

Methinks it is time to move on, a few drinks will be just the tonic, and maybe the folks on the Rachmaninov 3 thread are still debating the profundity of a piece which, apparently, is on the level of a Brahms Bb, Beethoven G major or the Mozart K491.
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 08:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles

I thought of the same thing at the start of this thread! smile

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
I know some people feel as you [beet31424] do about some of Liszt's works, for example, but that's a controversial thing to say because Liszt is a top-tier composer. Is Islamey more easily scorned because Balakirev is not one?



Oops, I missed that.
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 08:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well, I think that Stravinsky did a lot more than just to juxtapose Russian folk music tunes together... So, yes, I dislike Islamey much more than Petrushka.

I should note, however, that from the three major ballets of the same era by Stravinsky, I'm most fond of the Rite of Spring.



And the Rite is full of bits and pieces of folk tunes. I forgot where I saw it, but somebody went to the trouble of identifying a lot of them - they are not original inventions by Stravinsky, but borrowings. Maybe, since this is the 100th anniversary year of the piece, that analysis will get some attention.

But there's not much point in comparing the kind of piece that Islamey is with very different sorts of pieces. I think Islamey belongs to a certain genre of arrangements and fantasies on pre-existing tunes. There is the huge output of stuff based on opera in the 19th century that falls into that category, of course, but there is also a lot of other material, like Mendelssohn's Fantasy on "The Last Rose of Summer", or the way Liszt appropriates some tunes for his "Venezia e Napoli".
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 08:56 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
If you think that makes me cranky, combative, or condescending, you are welcome to your own opinion of me. But I think you are just getting upset over my phrasing, just as the person who did not know what "orient" means.

Listen - what IS your problem? 'That person' has a name, and 'that person' knows FULL WELL what 'orient' means and you know it.

It was YOU who chose to address me in a thoroughly demeaning demeanor as if YOU know everything and I guess no newcomer here could possibly match your smarts. That's a real nice welcome mat you lay out for new members here - unfriendly and patronizing.

It amazes me that in a place that could be a celebration of a shared passion, there is snarkiness instead. Or do you think your massive entitlement is just your justifiably 'artistic temperament'? Whatever, it stinks.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 09:10 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well, I think that Stravinsky did a lot more than just to juxtapose Russian folk music tunes together... So, yes, I dislike Islamey much more than Petrushka.

I should note, however, that from the three major ballets of the same era by Stravinsky, I'm most fond of the Rite of Spring.



And the Rite is full of bits and pieces of folk tunes. I forgot where I saw it, but somebody went to the trouble of identifying a lot of them - they are not original inventions by Stravinsky, but borrowings. Maybe, since this is the 100th anniversary year of the piece, that analysis will get some attention.
Of course I know that the Rite is filled with such tunes. But as far as taste is concerned I largely prefer it than Petrushka or The Firebird... :-/

I'm not sure there's any reason to keep discussing this. Maybe my comments were a bit 'harsh' and one sided. Lets try this: "Generally speaking, music with ethnic elements do not appeal to me".

But there is a question that nobody has replied and needs asking I think:

[b]"What's so amazing about Islamey?" Meaning. Does anyone think that this is a huge masterpiece (like moonlight sonata, for example), or something just as "good" (whatever "good" means).

I think replying to that might solve all the issues with Islamey! wink
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 09:59 AM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: BDB
If you think that makes me cranky, combative, or condescending, you are welcome to your own opinion of me. But I think you are just getting upset over my phrasing, just as the person who did not know what "orient" means.

Listen - what IS your problem? 'That person' has a name, and 'that person' knows FULL WELL what 'orient' means and you know it.

It was YOU who chose to address me in a thoroughly demeaning demeanor as if YOU know everything and I guess no newcomer here could possibly match your smarts. That's a real nice welcome mat you lay out for new members here - unfriendly and patronizing.

It amazes me that in a place that could be a celebration of a shared passion, there is snarkiness instead. Or do you think your massive entitlement is just your justifiably 'artistic temperament'? Whatever, it stinks.


There are nearly 70,000 "names" on this board, using the term advisedly because I do not use my name on it. I have not memorized all of them. You may think of that as a failing of mine. You are welcome to do so.
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 10:05 AM

.
Posted by: BDB

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 10:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well, I think that Stravinsky did a lot more than just to juxtapose Russian folk music tunes together... So, yes, I dislike Islamey much more than Petrushka.

I should note, however, that from the three major ballets of the same era by Stravinsky, I'm most fond of the Rite of Spring.



And the Rite is full of bits and pieces of folk tunes. I forgot where I saw it, but somebody went to the trouble of identifying a lot of them - they are not original inventions by Stravinsky, but borrowings. Maybe, since this is the 100th anniversary year of the piece, that analysis will get some attention.
Of course I know that the Rite is filled with such tunes. But as far as taste is concerned I largely prefer it than Petrushka or The Firebird... :-/

I'm not sure there's any reason to keep discussing this. Maybe my comments were a bit 'harsh' and one sided. Lets try this: "Generally speaking, music with ethnic elements do not appeal to me".

But there is a question that nobody has replied and needs asking I think:

[b]"What's so amazing about Islamey?" Meaning. Does anyone think that this is a huge masterpiece (like moonlight sonata, for example), or something just as "good" (whatever "good" means).

I think replying to that might solve all the issues with Islamey! wink


One should be aware that Stravinsky studied with members of Balakirev's circle, so he is the next generation of Russian composer. I think structurally, the 3 Movements are more advanced than Islamey. A brilliant mind like Stravinsky's builds upon the experience of the previous generation. I would be interested to know whether you agree with that assessment.

It might have been better to compare Islamey with the last of the 3 Movements, or maybe the entire piece, but I did not want to spend a lot of time on it.

It also might be interesting to compare it with another piece of traditional tunes arrangements that a lot of people do not like, the Saudades do Brasil.
Posted by: patH

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 10:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
AGAIN - and this excludes people who apparently can not read and are here only to insult - is the subtitle 'Oriental Fantasy' by Balakirev or his publisher?

I don't know for sure, but Henle publishers, who prides itself on publishing Urtext editions (editions true to the composer), sells it as "Islamey - Fantaisie Orientale". So I'm guessing the title is the original title by Balakirev.

The preface of the Henle edition mentions that it was originally published by Jurgenson. Maybe you'll have to find a facsimile to know for sure.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 12:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
.

Goomer: I realize it's dangerous to wade into something between other people, but I just wanted to say, BDB isn't like that. (There were times that he and I had our moments too grin but, he's not like that.) I don't feel like going back to what started it between you and him, but I did read it when it happened, and it didn't seem like anything like how it seemed to you. Whether or not you took something the wrong way, I think you can rest assured that he's not like that and that just going on from here as though nothing happened will be more than fine. smile
Posted by: Goomer Piles

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 12:54 PM

In anonymous settings like this, words speak louder than actions. I know what I read, and I am as qualified as anybody to understand a put-down. So thanks, but I don't need any interpreter here. Compare the way BDB addressed me with the way others handled the historical context of the word 'oriental', and there is an ENORMOUS difference, namely the difference between respect and utter disrespect.

FWIW, it seems like 'argerichfan' knew the deal too but, as you say, choose not to 'wade in'.

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
BTW, I am not 'upset' over your phrasing -I think you give yourself too much credit- but I have seen you here a long time, and if I am used to the tone of your posts, I do not always think them appropriate. You would NEVER have got me on the 'oriental' thing, but I let that issue go, amusing as it was, I did not choose to get involved.

So Mark, while your intention may be good here, you weren't the person who was deliberately belittled and the way you 'read it' is irrelevant to me. And also FWIW, I would not have brought this up again if it weren't for BDB saying again 'the person who did not know what "orient" means.' Anybody who read the earlier exchange would know very well that there's NO evidence I didn't know what 'orient' means, and there was NO point in BDB reiterating that nonsense except to denigrate and insult.
Posted by: kapelli

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:05 PM

I like Islamey smile
Much more than many Beethoven sonatas smile
Posted by: xcvbnml

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:38 PM

I didn't read the whole thread because I found all the bickering about it being bad because its so difficult somewhat aggravating, but here are my two cents.

There is nothing wrong with a piece being over-the-top and difficult. A show of virtuosity is exciting and impressive for the performer and the audience. However, virtuosity on its own is not what music is for. Would I want to hear a whole recital of islamey's and prokofiev toccatas? No. Would I want to hear a whole recital of ravel pavane's and such? No. Islamey paired with more sensitive and musical pieces is an amazing and exciting show of what can be done at the piano.


I loved islamey from the first time I heard because its so startlingly unique. I have too this day never heard a piece that sounds anything like it, and it is a nice breath of fresh air among the other romantic literature. The middles beauty is made all
the more beautiful by the bombast of the outer sections. I find the music very creative and not pedantic in the least.

And back to the difficulty... Virtuosity is fine! I would argue that islamey and the brahms Paganini variations are the two most technically difficult solo pieces in the standard repertoire. Yes, op.106, gaspard, etc. are overall more difficult to learn, interpret, and so on -- however, from a pure technique and fingers standpoint they are no islamey. I saw the Liszt sonata being discussed -- after working on it I can say that the technical difficulties don't come close. Again -- the overall learning and performance might take more from a pianist, but not their fingers. It is fun to see someone try to pull of something like islamey. Music can do some much but let us not forget that it is also entertainment, and islamey played well is about exciting as a piece can be. Listen to berezovsky if you disagree.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:44 PM

Originally Posted By: xcvbnml
Yes, op.106, gaspard, etc. are overall more difficult to learn, interpret, and so on --

I don't find Mendelssohn's Sonata No 3, Op 106, that difficult.

Hint: don't refer to pieces without naming the composer.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Hint: don't refer to pieces without naming the composer.

For something like "Op. 106" it's probably OK, even though maybe a trillion other composers did write 106's. grin
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 01:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Hint: don't refer to pieces without naming the composer.

For something like "Op. 106" it's probably OK, even though maybe a trillion other composers did write 106's. grin

How many more seconds would it have taken to write "Beethoven"?

How do we know he even meant Beethoven? grin
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 02:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
How many more seconds would it have taken to write "Beethoven"?

How do we know he even meant Beethoven? grin

Actually I think the problem wasn't leaving out the composer but that he said the op. number rather than "Hammerklavier." I don't know why someone would want to do that, even though people do that kind of thing a lot.
Posted by: xcvbnml

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 02:38 PM

This forum doesn't cease to amaze me -- what an odd community. How in the world if you know anything at all about the piano repertoire do you have to take time to correct me about Op.106? When people discuss the most difficult pieces "Beethoven's" Op.106 is almost always a frontrunner -- and when an Op.106 is placed alongside Gaspard and Islamey it is so obvious which 106 is being referred to that it requires no qualification. If you actually knew half of a thing about what you were ever discussing Polyphonist you wouldn't have to ask if I meant Beethoven or not.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 02:44 PM

Originally Posted By: xcvbnml
This forum doesn't cease to amaze me -- what an odd community. How in the world if you know anything at all about the piano repertoire do you have to take time to correct me about Op.106? When people discuss the most difficult pieces "Beethoven's" Op.106 is almost always a frontrunner -- and when an Op.106 is placed alongside Gaspard and Islamey it is so obvious which 106 is being referred to that it requires no qualification. If you actually knew half of a thing about what you were ever discussing Polyphonist you wouldn't have to ask if I meant Beethoven or not.

My point is not that I didn't understand which piece you meant. My point is that the lack of clarity may be a problem for those less knowledgeable than our brilliant xcvbnml.

By the way, I'd guess that my knowledge of the piano repertoire is far more extensive than yours.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 02:44 PM

Hey Poly, it wasn't any big thing! I think Poly was just having a little fun with it.

FWIW I don't understand why you wouldn't call it how it's usually called, which is "Hammerklavier." But that's no big thing either. smile

I also don't understand why people would say (as they sometimes do) "Op 27 #2" instead of Moonlight Sonata. Especially since I don't always necessarily remember if it's #1 or #2. ha
Just as I don't get why people often say those opus numbers when they're talking about the Chopin Nocturnes, rather than "Db major Nocturne" or "C# minor Nocturne," especially since I usually don't particularly know which is #1 and which is #2. grin

But please don't worry about it. We speak about our preferences, sometimes we're just having fun -- and it's no big thing and certainly nothing personal.
Posted by: Numerian

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 02:55 PM

Wasn't 106 by Mendelssohn an opus postumous? I thought he forbade publication of his teenage piano sonatas and his family ignored his wishes after his death.
Posted by: patH

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:09 PM

OT about op.106:

I just asked the all-mighty, all-knowing oracle of modern times... Google.
I typed in "op.106", and the first three hits were about the Beethoven Sonata.
But then came hits dealing with the Mendelssohn Sonata, a Sonata by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and other works not for piano. But most hits were about Beethoven.

I also did a Yahoo search for "op.106". Beethoven came in front; but the second hit was about the String Quartet by Dvorak; which is not even on the first page of the Google Search Results. And other works appeared.

When you google or yahoo "Hammerklavier", the first hits are about the instrument. At least in Germany.

So: Just saying op.106 might in fact be confusing without context. But in this case, context is useful. I immediately thought of Beethoven when I read xcvbnml's post. He/she was talking about famous hard piano pieces.

Anyway: Sorry for off-topic rant.
I listened to Islamey for the first time today; and the main theme reminds me of the Sindbad theme from Sheherazade (Rimski-Korsakov). Nice, and with "oriental" touch. But lots of notes.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:22 PM

As one who has a hard time with numbers (which is why I've never owned, nor ever wanted to own, a cell phone), I initially thought that the Op.106 mentioned - which is quite a high number - to belong to a very prolific composer, maybe someone like Niels Viggo Bentzon. But then, I didn't know whether Bentzon's Op.106 is indeed one of his several piano works, maybe from The Tempered Piano. Or maybe one of his symphonies.

So, I was stumped...... frown
Posted by: BruceD

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
[...]
I also don't understand why people would say (as they sometimes do) "Op 27 #2" instead of Moonlight Sonata.[...]


My first thought was Chopin, not Beethoven.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
[...]
I also don't understand why people would say (as they sometimes do) "Op 27 #2" instead of Moonlight Sonata.[...]


My first thought was Chopin, not Beethoven.

Another annoying one is Opus 53, which is also a well-known piece for both composers.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Another annoying one is Opus 53, which is also a well-known piece for both composers.

Yeah -- and what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin

BTW, I think Mendelssohn's "Op. 106" was a very conscious obeisance* to Beethoven's, wasn't it....

* good word smile
I learned it from "The Raven."
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

FWIW I don't understand why you wouldn't call it how it's usually called, which is "Hammerklavier." But that's no big thing either. smile


Until fairly recently, I would have referred to it as Beethoven's 29th sonata.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Another annoying one is Opus 53, which is also a well-known piece for both composers.

Yeah -- and what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin

Practice! grin

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
BTW, I think Mendelssohn's "Op. 106" was a very conscious obeisance* to Beethoven's, wasn't it....

He probably wanted people to start confusing it with Beethoven's... haha
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin

Practice! grin

Which Op. 53? ha


(both)
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin

Practice! grin

Which Op. 53? ha


(both)


Not Haydn.
Posted by: patH

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 07:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin

Practice! grin

Which Op. 53? ha


(both)

But, but, but...
If you do two op.53, you get one op.106, don't you?
2 x 53 = 106

grin
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 07:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

BTW, I think Mendelssohn's "Op. 106" was a very conscious obeisance* to Beethoven's, wasn't it....

Same opening rhythm certainly.

Now if someone is going to pull an Opus 61, well then it could be either Beethoven or Chopin, and funnily, Elgar's violin concerto is also Op 61!
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 07:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: xcvbnml
I would argue that islamey and the brahms Paganini variations are the two most technically difficult solo pieces in the standard repertoire. Yes, op.106, gaspard, etc. are overall more difficult to learn, interpret, and so on -- however, from a pure technique and fingers standpoint they are no islamey.

I don't find Mendelssohn's Sonata No 3, Op 106, that difficult.



Mendelssohn's op. 106 is part of the standard rep? Who knew?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 08:03 PM

The topic of discussion for the past 20 posts stemmed from that comment... grin
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 08:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
The topic of discussion for the past 20 posts stemmed from that comment... grin


And...?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/27/13 11:21 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....what do we do about those OCTAVES in Op. 53? grin
Practice! grin
Which Op. 53? ha

(both)
But, but, but...
If you do two op.53, you get one op.106, don't you?
2 x 53 = 106grin

Nice!
I think 53 being 1/2 of 106 was subliminally part of why I thought of the Op. 53's. smile
(Although I had no idea.)
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/28/13 07:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well, I think that Stravinsky did a lot more than just to juxtapose Russian folk music tunes together... So, yes, I dislike Islamey much more than Petrushka.

I should note, however, that from the three major ballets of the same era by Stravinsky, I'm most fond of the Rite of Spring.



And the Rite is full of bits and pieces of folk tunes. I forgot where I saw it, but somebody went to the trouble of identifying a lot of them - they are not original inventions by Stravinsky, but borrowings. Maybe, since this is the 100th anniversary year of the piece, that analysis will get some attention.
Of course I know that the Rite is filled with such tunes. But as far as taste is concerned I largely prefer it than Petrushka or The Firebird... :-/

I'm not sure there's any reason to keep discussing this. Maybe my comments were a bit 'harsh' and one sided. Lets try this: "Generally speaking, music with ethnic elements do not appeal to me".



Well, I guess the question then is "why doesn't it appeal to you?", since so much of classical music is infused with that sort of stuff, in varying degrees of directness. I'm not trying to pick on you, but I think it's an interesting thing to discuss in the context of an "Islamey" thread.

I enjoy Islamey, and find it quite strange that it seems to turn a lot of people totally off. It seems pretty much in the same territory as Liszt's Rhapsodie Espagnole, or that of any number of other 19th century composers doing arrangements of ethnic or popular material.

Is it that kitsch seems to be lurking in the background in that sort of music (a reasonable worry, I might add).

Quote:


But there is a question that nobody has replied and needs asking I think:

[b]"What's so amazing about Islamey?" Meaning. Does anyone think that this is a huge masterpiece (like moonlight sonata, for example), or something just as "good" (whatever "good" means).

I think replying to that might solve all the issues with Islamey! wink


I don't think Islamey is a huge masterpiece, but it is hugely entertaining to my sensibilities, without insulting my apparently lowly intelligence too much. And that's enough for me. I don't imagine for a minute that it is supposed to be a serious and authentic representation of the source material that Balakirev heard, but then, I don't expect that out of other classical appropriations of non-classical material, either.
Posted by: Damon

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/28/13 11:04 AM

If we must continue to compare Balakirev to Liszt, I think the "Grand Galop Chromatique" is a more respectful comparison, please. smile
Posted by: Derulux

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/29/13 02:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
How many more seconds would it have taken to write "Beethoven"?

How do we know he even meant Beethoven? grin

Actually I think the problem wasn't leaving out the composer but that he said the op. number rather than "Hammerklavier." I don't know why someone would want to do that, even though people do that kind of thing a lot.

I, for one, can't spell the damn thing. laugh

Originally Posted By: xcvbnml
This forum doesn't cease to amaze me -- what an odd community. How in the world if you know anything at all about the piano repertoire do you have to take time to correct me about Op.106? When people discuss the most difficult pieces "Beethoven's" Op.106 is almost always a frontrunner -- and when an Op.106 is placed alongside Gaspard and Islamey it is so obvious which 106 is being referred to that it requires no qualification. If you actually knew half of a thing about what you were ever discussing Polyphonist you wouldn't have to ask if I meant Beethoven or not.

I am not a huge fan of the piece, and despite being able to play it, would never have known that was the opus number if Mark and Poly hadn't said it.

It would kind of be like me saying, "Hey, man, do you know when we'll see 1P again?"

And then someone figures out, "What, you mean Halley's Comet?" wink

Originally Posted By: Mark C
I also don't understand why people would say (as they sometimes do) "Op 27 #2" instead of Moonlight Sonata. Especially since I don't always necessarily remember if it's #1 or #2.

Seriously? It's #2? I can never remember that, either.. and I always get it confused with the numbering system.. "Piano Sonata #14" (I believe)?

Quote:
I enjoy Islamey, and find it quite strange that it seems to turn a lot of people totally off. It seems pretty much in the same territory as Liszt's Rhapsodie Espagnole, or that of any number of other 19th century composers doing arrangements of ethnic or popular material.

I almost want to say I don't get it, either, but then.. I'm not a big fan of the Liszt piece. I guess a lot of it depends on what you listen to the music for, and whether that piece has that particular element or it is lacking?
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/29/13 05:21 PM

wr: I think that Islamey is a bit too simple for me, along with the rather strong (fake) ethnic elements... I happened to (re-)listen to the rite of Spring tonight and this is why I'm posting. That masterpiece has SO many different things going on that are brilliant, that it's impossible to compare it with Islamey. Polytonality, Polyrhythms, orchestration, time signatures to name but a few... In Islamey you get the same thing over and over again, in the same tonality, the same rhythm, etc... :-/

(BTW, I don't really enjoy too much Liszt either, except for some late works (and the sonata) that linger the more 'atonal' stuff and get further away from ethnic elements)
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/29/13 05:24 PM

Regarding "fake" ethnic music, that's a large reason I'm not a big fan of American composers making arrangements of "folk tunes" to try to sound stylistically like another culture. I really like authentic ethnic choral music, such as music by the composer Leo Brouwer. smile
Posted by: mermilylumpkin

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/29/13 09:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Regarding "fake" ethnic music, that's a large reason I'm not a big fan of American composers making arrangements of "folk tunes" to try to sound stylistically like another culture. I really like authentic ethnic choral music, such as music by the composer Leo Brouwer. smile


This is a really interesting point. Perhaps that's why I wasn't instantly engrossed with Islamey. I wonder if in order to be write a piece that encompasses the musical complexities of a culture, you have to intimately know that culture as your own. I think it's the same reason native Southerners write the best Southern fiction or anyone can imitate their own culture best, really. Or else it's a bit shallow somehow because you don't "own" that culture and have little strands of it pushing through your subconscious.

I thought the contrast with the Petrushka recording -- which I loved -- was an interesting one. To me Petrushka seemed to have lots of different layers and textures and complexities, whereas Islamey sounded like it was grinding on the same theme again and again. With a lot of Russian classical music, I often feel like I get to the place in the music when it gets REAL Russian. I don't know what defines that Slavic sound, but it's like it's there and it's organic and Petrushka has it and lots of other great pieces of music have it too.

Islamey was very nice, but not something that really captured me and did me in, in the artistic sense.
Posted by: wr

Re: What's so bad about Islamey? - 04/29/13 09:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
wr: I think that Islamey is a bit too simple for me, along with the rather strong (fake) ethnic elements... I happened to (re-)listen to the rite of Spring tonight and this is why I'm posting. That masterpiece has SO many different things going on that are brilliant, that it's impossible to compare it with Islamey. Polytonality, Polyrhythms, orchestration, time signatures to name but a few... In Islamey you get the same thing over and over again, in the same tonality, the same rhythm, etc... :-/

(BTW, I don't really enjoy too much Liszt either, except for some late works (and the sonata) that linger the more 'atonal' stuff and get further away from ethnic elements)


Well, of course, Islamey was written in the 1860's and the Rite was premiered in 1913. In some ways, Balakirev's folkloric work (not just in Islamey) helped to set the stage for the Rite and make it possible. And too, Balakirev was not a once-in-a-century creative genius of Stravinsky's caliber, either. So, yes, I agree - directly comparing Islamey to the Rite is nonsense.

But I wasn't trying to compare them as music, but just trying get at whatever issue it is you have with "ethnic" music being used in a "classical" context. Which I still don't understand.

The folk tunes in Islamey aren't fake, they are real. The setting is not fake, either, it's concert music for a virtuoso pianist to play. I don't think anyone imagines that they are hearing a folk musician performing when it is played, anymore than anyone imagines that the orchestra of Copland's Appalachian Spring is made up of Shakers. In other words, I don't think it's falsification of the music, anymore than, say, writing variations on Paganini's famous caprice would be a falsification of his piece.