Friday, October 10, 2014

Likes and dislikes

Norman Lebrecht, on his Slipped Disc blog, invited readers to list the top 10 composers or works they never wanted to hear again and those they considered worthy of more exposure. I couldn’t resist joining in the fun.

Scroll down to comments for my and others’ honor rolls:

And my and others’ dishonor rolls:

Begging the question, “Who cares if you listen?” (borrowing the title given a Milton Babbitt commentary on another issue)? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s useful to know the likes and dislikes of those of us who publicly assess musical performances.

As a reviewer, I try to take music as it comes, whatever it is – with one exception.

That would be No. 1 on my dishonor roll: Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony. I have heard it played by some of the greatest orchestras and conductors (starting with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, in concert in the 1960s), and I have always loathed it. So, when I retired from doing music journalism for money, I granted myself the privilege of never again having to endure the piece.

Is the “Pathétique” a masterpiece? Yes.

Should you trust any judgment I would make about a performance of it? No, and you won’t have occasion to.

UPDATE (Oct. 11): Conductor Leonard Slatkin weighs in: