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Nick Bennett

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Transcriptions obviously come into this category. If they don't appeal to you, you're a snotty snob, evidently. :rolleyes:

 

I think there's another category of music, namely music that puts you beyond the pail if you do like it. For some people it's Messiaen or Ockeghem, for others it's Lefebure-Wely or John Rutter. Or maybe Elgar.

 

So, lets leave our inhibitions behind, ladies and gentlemen, and beat each other up over music we do or don't like. Transcriptions have been covered, so let's not go over that ground again!

 

I'll start the ball rolling by saying I can't stand Mozart, I think most of Liszt's works are shallow, and Bartok is the second greatest composer since Josquin.

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Aha, a man after my own heart!

 

I admire Mozart no end - I think he was probably the greatest composer ever - but I really don't like his music much. Beethoven is even worse, partly because he never knew when to stop - it's sort of like Mozart with Liszt's hot air. There are odd works of the First Viennese School that I do like. Anyone know Michael Haydn's Requiem for Archbishop Sigismund? It can hold its head up alongside Mozart's any day.

 

But there are far worse than that lot. Yes, Lefebure-Wely takes some beating for spineless inanity. Then there are quite a few Victorian composers who are the musical equvalent of Vogon poetry.

 

Second greatest composer since Josquin? Probably Byrd, but I generally prefer others from that period: Victoria, Tallis and Gibbons (what a technique he had). Tomkins is very inventive too.

 

Greatest Romantic? Well, Brahms probably.

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Guest Cynic
Transcriptions obviously come into this category. If they don't appeal to you, you're a snotty snob, evidently. :rolleyes:

 

I think there's another category of music, namely music that puts you beyond the pail if you do like it. For some people it's Messiaen or Ockeghem, for others it's Lefebure-Wely or John Rutter. Or maybe Elgar.

 

So, lets leave our inhibitions behind, ladies and gentlemen, and beat each other up over music we do or don't like. Transcriptions have been covered, so let's not go over that ground again!

 

I'll start the ball rolling by saying I can't stand Mozart, I think most of Liszt's works are shallow, and Bartok is the second greatest composer since Josquin.

 

 

All right then. Sorry if I used the word 'snob' in the earlier topic. It wasn't aimed at you! My justification is that as a performer one has to constantly remember when choosing rprogrammes that you are not only playing for the initiated, the totally smitten fans but also for the floating voters who can be wooed a little with judicious choices.

 

Anyway, to support your topic a bit of honesty:

 

The composer that constantly disappoints me is Beethoven. I admire the man and love several moments in several works, but (I suppose in these days of ready music, heard all the time) it's the repetitions that irritate me. One can hear him working it out and imprinting themes in his listeners' minds.

 

Oh, and (for me) you can keep Romantic Opera.

Mind you, it's the whole palaver: the cost, the 'make an evening of it', the deformed voices shouting over ludicrously powerful orchestras, the pitiful storylines and banal/mediocre acting that would'nt even get by on daytime TV.

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Oh, and (for me) you can keep Romantic Opera.

Mind you, it's the whole palaver: the cost, the 'make an evening of it', the deformed voices shouting over ludicrously powerful orchestras, the pitiful storylines and banal/mediocre acting that would'nt even get by on daytime TV.

 

:rolleyes: That sums opera up very nicely for me too!

 

AND, Caleb Simper..............

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I seem to remember a thread like this not so long ago, but I am always happy to air my views - all of them, I am sure you will agree, moderate, mature and thoughtfully argued.

 

Brahms Requiem ; sets my teeth on edge.

 

Verdi ; utterly, utterly pointless. Nothing but oom - pah - pah music. Who told this man he could compose ?

 

Beethoven Symphonies. Wouldn't cross the road to hear. Can you imagine getting stuck in a corner at a party being harangued by this man ? Egotistical windbag.

 

And in the field of organ music ;

 

Kenneth Leighton's organ music. All the same but miserable.

 

Most of Widor (with a few movements honourably excepted). Why bother learning this stuff ?

 

Dupre's Symphonie Passion. Just don't get me started.

 

M

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I seem to remember a thread like this not so long ago, but I am always happy to air my views - all of them, I am sure you will agree, moderate, mature and thoughtfully argued.

 

Brahms Requiem ; sets my teeth on edge.

 

Verdi ; utterly, utterly pointless. Nothing but oom - pah - pah music. Who told this man he could compose ?

 

Beethoven Symphonies. Wouldn't cross the road to hear. Can you imagine getting stuck in a corner at a party being harangued by this man ? Egotistical windbag.

 

And in the field of organ music ;

 

Kenneth Leighton's organ music. All the same but miserable.

 

Most of Widor (with a few movements honourably excepted). Why bother learning this stuff ?

 

Dupre's Symphonie Passion. Just don't get me started.

 

M

 

I agree - apart from Widor and the Dupré. There are a number of weak movements amongst Widor's symphonies (and several which are just too 'sweet'); however, his Deuxième Symphonie (the version which contains the Scherzo) is generally good.

 

As for Mozart. Well, some of the piano sonati contain some pleasant moments and there are some beautiful melodies, but they are just too repetitive and too formulaic of my taste.

 

Many of us seem to agree regarding Beethoven - which is interesting.

 

In the field of organ music, I would also add anything by Mathias, most of Howells' Psalm Preludes and Petr Eben. (No apologies to Pierre or MM!)

 

Regasrding opera, I would go even further. Particularly Italian and Romantic German examples. I confess that I find it hard to comprehend how anyone would wish to come home from work on a Friday evening, order a takeaway and then sit down and slip the first disc of the Ring box set into the CD player. Personally, I would rather be stuck in a lift with Jo Brand.

 

On reflection, if she sings in addition to playing the organ, this may not be that different....

 

I shall come back on this one.

 

:rolleyes:

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AND, Caleb Simper..............

 

... but I think you're allowed to dislike the music of Dr Simper?

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What about Bach? Yes, I know he is the Untouchable of untouchables, but I have two major dislikes:

 

(a) Any of the 'free' organ works played on a certain brand of period North European organ which turn good music into a full-blown assault on the patience, mostly due to a pleno resembling the audible equivalent of rusty sheet steel with sharp edges.

 

(b ) Any of the cantatas or other choral works sung by mediocre amateurs, especially using organ arrangements of the orchestral parts. Utterly, utterly frustrating. The waste of good music drips from every tedious bar. Nothing seems to tolerate mediocrity less than Bach.

 

Also a great deal of early English organ music (Stanley, Travers, Walond, Samuel Wesley and the rest). The sheer lack of invention is staggering at times, and why is there such interest on playing it on period instruments that have all the voicing subtlety of fairground organs? Compared to what the French and Germans were doing at the same time, it's a national embarrassment.

 

I also agree with the comments about Widor and the Dupré Symphonie-Passion. Should be great works but they seem somehow to be missing something.

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What about Bach? Yes, I know he is the Untouchable of untouchables, but I have two major dislikes:

 

Any of the 'free' organ works played on a certain brand of period North European organ which turn good music into a full-blown assault on the patience, mostly due to a pleno resembling the audible equivalent of rusty sheet steel with sharp edges.

 

I once sat through a performance of the Passacaglia where the performer played flat out - mans. to mixtures coupled plus pedal reed throughout - it nearly did my brain in!

 

AJJ

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I once sat through a performance of the Passacaglia where the performer played flat out - mans. to mixtures coupled plus pedal reed throughout - it nearly did my brain in!

 

AJJ

And we wonder why the organ isn't a popular musical instrument :rolleyes:

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I'll probably get brained but I like some opera. My3 favouirites:

 

Magic Flute

Lulu

Peter Grimes

 

I also like some Beethoven symphonies - 6th and 7th especially. Not bothered about the rest but the 9th can be thrilling live. I have a soft spot for the Pathetique sonata it being the first "big" piano work I learned.

 

Quite a lot of 20th century English stuff is a bit tedious: VW, Holst - they all have great bits but boring bits as well. (What was that someone said of Wagner?) But leave Elgar alone please. No intolerence.

 

I hate: Franck's Panis Angelicus; Bach Gounod Ave Maria; Schubert ditto. (over-exposure at weddings and funerals no doubt.)

 

I find Hindemith organ music cold.

 

I agree about much of Widor and indeed the rest of that crowd. For example, is Suite Gothique really all that good?

 

That'll do for now, but like Arnie....

 

 

Peter

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....and you wonder why organists are not taken seriously as musicians?

 

Mozart is a genius. The music in Magic Flute for example is simply stupendous. Beethoven likewise, Missa Solemnis incomparable. Personally, given the choice of attending a top notch performance of La Boheme, or Traviata, or alternatively sitting through an evening of De Gringy and Couperin the opera would win hands down. (Mind you Wagner is a step too far!)

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Quite a lot of 20th century English stuff is a bit tedious: VW, Holst - they all have great bits but boring bits as well. (What was that someone said of Wagner?) But leave Elgar alone please. No intolerence.

 

I hate: Franck's Panis Angelicus; Bach Gounod Ave Maria; Schubert ditto. (over-exposure at weddings and funerals no doubt.)

 

I find Hindemith organ music cold.

 

I agree about much of CENSORED! and indeed the rest of that crowd. For example, is Suite Gothique really all that good?

 

That'll do for now, but like Arnie....

Peter

 

I certainly agree about Hindemith. Likewise the over-exposed music. I have never really liked the Suite Gothique.

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Sorry, I was happy with a ringside seat, but feel I must join in when someone mentions Beethoven Missa Solemnis in glowing terms. I run a mile (and it would be further if I wern't approaching the wrong side of 40), and I find its one of those works that musicians treat like Marmite, its either love or hate, absolutely no middle ground.

 

Widor Symphonies are quite a hot potato. I've often wondered about piecing a symphony together for a recital which has Widors best movements in, they've all got at least one weak movement. Audiences need educating with some of the best other movements (5th, 1st move; 6th, last move; 8th (is that the B minor one, last movt and that gorgeous slow movement in E major with the double pedalling), 4th, scherzo etc) Absolutely no musical reason for doing it, other than wanting individual movements to be heard and not wanting to only play one movement. I've always thought it odd to play single movements from sonatas/symphonies in a recital without the context of the whole thing. My first thoughts (probably rather unfairly!) when I see it on a programme, can't they play the whole thing?

 

I can't get into Bruckner for some reason (motets OK, symphonies leave me cold) and quite a lot of Mahler doesn't do anything for me. Ditto Reger organ music, just notes for the sake of it. However, I have found some of my tastes changing over the years. Mostly because I've ended up having to teach A level set works that I wouldn't normally go near with a barge pole, but needs must, and they have rather grown on me and I've started to appreciate them a little more (Berio's Sinfonia comes into that category, as does Messiaen Turr Symph and Strauss Tone Poems).

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....and you wonder why organists are not taken seriously as musicians?

 

Mozart is a genius. The music in Magic Flute for example is simply stupendous. Beethoven likewise, Missa Solemnis incomparable. Personally, given the choice of attending a top notch performance of La Boheme, or Traviata, or alternatively sitting through an evening of De Gringy and Couperin the opera would win hands down. (Mind you Wagner is a step too far!)

 

Mozart - a genius....? Hmmm - who was it who said of him "The prattlings of a spoiled child" (or similar)? Too formulaic (and often twee) for my taste, I am afraid. I am also surprised at the Beethoven - give me Bach's B minor Mass or the Passion According to Saint John any day.

 

To take opera - I am exactly the opposite. The honesty and purity of de Grigny or Couperin I find infinitely preferable to over-inflated nonsense performed by generally overweight people, who sing with such a dense vibrato, I am usually at a loss to discern whether the work is being performed in the language in which it was originally written, or simply in a bad English translation. As for the plots - pah! Always the same thing: unrequited love, or some silly mis-demeanour which has apparently escalated into a duel between two spoiled, rich families, etc, etc.

 

Nothing personal, but I hate opera with a passion.

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Well I suppose it would be boring if we all liked the same things. Personally I can think of few passages of music as beautiful and sublime as the Benedictus in the Missa Solemnis, and at least Beethoven has made a serious attempt to reflect the meaning of the words throughout the mass in the way they are set to the music, rather than setting vocal solos as if they were purely orchestral as is often the case with the great JSB. (Don't get me wrong though, I think St. Matthew Passion is possibly the greatest choral work ever written)

 

I wonder how many members of this board play an orchestral instrument? Get out there and play some real music!

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Mozart - a genius....? Hmmm - who was it who said of him "The prattlings of a spoiled child" (or similar)? Too formulaic (and often twee) for my taste, I am afraid.

Depends what you mean by formulaic. He does have a distinctive style (shared with Haydn, but it is fairly easy to tell the two apart) and I agree that it is outwardly twee a lot of the time. He also liked working within set forms, but there is nothing wrong with that. In any case the form of the classical sonata was still new in Mozart's day. Within those constraints his music is actually anything but formulaic. If you think his music is predictable (I'm not suggesting you do) listen closely and try to predict where the music is going to go next. You may be surprised at how often you are wrong. His inventiveness at development and at side-stepping the obvious is what makes him great to my mind. Still don't like him though.

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I wonder how many members of this board play an orchestral instrument? Get out there and play some real music!

 

I am sorry, but I have always disagreed with this viewpoint, Neil. The classical organ repertoire contains some of the most sublime music ever written - certainly no less deserving of either merit or attention than any other musical genre. Personally, I would far rather listen to a good organ played beautifully, than to some orchestral music.

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I wonder how many members of this board play an orchestral instrument? Get out there and play some real music!

 

If an orchestra is a collection of different instruments which play as an ensemble and from time to time individual voices pop out of the texture to say their piece, then I suppose the organ could be regarded as an orchestra (and so could a choir, in some senses.) This applies equally to transcriptions and Romantic music as it does to earlier pieces. This is why I like trio sonatas - I like to hear the mathematics of a rising triad appearing in every voice, then upside down, then backwards, then everywhere at once. I love the "Allein Gott" trio in the Clavierubung where the chorale sticks its head over the parapet from time to time. I always find myself drawn to thinking of Trio 6 as two violinists challenging each other to a duel, periodically descending in to Vivaldiesque scrubbing away at arpeggios, and the poor cello player trying to keep up but actually displaying the greatest virtuosity of the lot. Equally nothing can beat the thrill of the great choral/orchestral works played cleverly. If I am ever told I must have my fingers cut off, I will first demand to accompany Elgar Spirit of the Lord and the Rutter and Faure requiems.

 

Personally, away from organ music, I've always favoured the music which draws the greatest possible effect from the fewest possible resources. RVW has been mentioned as occasionally inducing boredom (I think 'cowpat' is the term affectionately applied to various English composers of that era) but many of his voice and piano songs contain the most economical, exciting and ascerbic harmonic writing imaginable, beaten only by Peter Warlock. As for the Ten Blake Songs (voice with oboe accompaniment) - such intricacy and richness drawn from only two parts really is quite amazing and, for me, beats hell out of Brahms or someone pounding hell out of my eardrums in forty parts for an hour. I'll do almost anything to take part in a concert of Warlock, RVW, Finzi, Wolf and Schumann songs (preferably performed by my fiancee....) but you will have to buy me a very big dinner indeed to get me to turn up to watch a Brahms and Beethoven orchestral shout.

 

But, curiously (to me), my dislike for Palestrina and Byrd and all that sort of thing is fairly irrational whereas it really ought not to be the case at all, ticking the economical and ascerbic boxes. I suppose it's because I seldom get to hear that sort of stuff done really, really, really well, but I find it quite predictable and often feel I could play along quite happily without taking too many wrong turns. I would rather hear a local choral society do something simple and well than try to bash through a Byrd mass getting flatter and flatter and slower and slower and constantly disagreeing about false relations.

 

Oh, and opera. Pass.

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The fact that I detest the music of Herbert Howells is well known, but taking a broader perspective, it might easily apply to a great deal of English organ-music of the 20th century.

 

Perhaps what I do not like in music is a lack of direction, and this seems to take the form of quite pointless modulation and excessive chromaticism; all inspired by the arch enemy of neo-classical style, Richard Wagner. So I am in good company, with the likes of Brahms, who remains my favourite composer.

 

I am never quite sure what English music is trying to say, and yet there are certain works which I like a great deal. I love the big Healey Willan, and yet it is a work which somehow seems to suit very few instruments to the point of complete satisfaction. It is also a work which seems to defeat the best attempts of many organists; thus leaving the classic Francis Jackson recording as still standing head and shoulders above all the rest.

 

I quite like some of the music of Francis Jackson, who brought a breath of fresh air to English organ-music. The Toccata, Chorale & Fugue is a fine work, with a bit of everything, and in my view, deserves to be played more often than it is. As for the brilliant "Diversion for Mixtures," this is just never played; possibly because it only ever sounded right at York.

 

French music I find quite trite, and yet, few countries have produced organ-works as memorable as the P & F in G minor by Dupre, the ever lovely Berceuse by Vierne and the inventive genius of Tournemire's improvisationsas transcribed by Durufle. As for the Durufle Toccata, THIS is how to do it! Cesar Franck is wonderful, and yet, I've never been drawn to learning it, even though I have the music, which remains in pristine condition. Widor I generally don't like, but like everyone else, I play the Toccata from the 5th, and have a very great admiration for the Allegro of the 6th, which actually works on a wide variety of instruments due to the contrapuntal nature of much of the writing.

 

In essence, I am a contrapuntist, and that colours both my taste in music and choice of instrument.

 

I suspect that this is why, if I were to draw time-line of preferred composers across all nationalities, it might read Bach (and his many contemporaries), Mozart, Brahms, Reubke, Reger and then, thereafter, a sort of ill-defined list of German and Central European composers who would probably include Hindemith, Wiedermann, Slavicky, Schroeder, Peeters, Ropek and some of the more modern or contemporary Czech and Polish composers.

 

Maybe I search for the natural successors to what Paul Hindemith was doing, rather than the follow-up to long dead French impressionism and post-Wagnerian chromaticism, but I live in hope!

 

 

MM

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If an orchestra is a collection of different instruments which play as an ensemble and from time to time individual voices pop out of the texture to say their piece, then I suppose the organ could be regarded as an orchestra (and so could a choir, in some senses.) This applies equally to transcriptions and Romantic music as it does to earlier pieces. This is why I like trio sonatas - I like to hear the mathematics of a rising triad appearing in every voice, then upside down, then backwards, then everywhere at once. I love the "Allein Gott" trio in the Clavierubung where the chorale sticks its head over the parapet from time to time. I always find myself drawn to thinking of Trio 6 as two violinists challenging each other to a duel, periodically descending in to Vivaldiesque scrubbing away at arpeggios, and the poor cello player trying to keep up but actually displaying the greatest virtuosity of the lot. Equally nothing can beat the thrill of the great choral/orchestral works played cleverly. If I am ever told I must have my fingers cut off, I will first demand to accompany Elgar Spirit of the Lord and the Rutter and Faure requiems.

 

Personally, away from organ music, I've always favoured the music which draws the greatest possible effect from the fewest possible resources. RVW has been mentioned as occasionally inducing boredom (I think 'cowpat' is the term affectionately applied to various English composers of that era) but many of his voice and piano songs contain the most economical, exciting and ascerbic harmonic writing imaginable, beaten only by Peter Warlock. As for the Ten Blake Songs (voice with oboe accompaniment) - such intricacy and richness drawn from only two parts really is quite amazing and, for me, beats hell out of Brahms or someone pounding hell out of my eardrums in forty parts for an hour. I'll do almost anything to take part in a concert of Warlock, RVW, Finzi, Wolf and Schumann songs (preferably performed by my fiancee....) but you will have to buy me a very big dinner indeed to get me to turn up to watch a Brahms and Beethoven orchestral shout.

 

But, curiously (to me), my dislike for Palestrina and Byrd and all that sort of thing is fairly irrational whereas it really ought not to be the case at all, ticking the economical and ascerbic boxes. I suppose it's because I seldom get to hear that sort of stuff done really, really, really well, but I find it quite predictable and often feel I could play along quite happily without taking too many wrong turns. I would rather hear a local choral society do something simple and well than try to bash through a Byrd mass getting flatter and flatter and slower and slower and constantly disagreeing about false relations.

 

Oh, and opera. Pass.

Well I agree with many of the above sentiments. I'm surprised you haven't mentioned Britten, he always strikes me as a master of creating maximum effect from minimum resources. I also tend to think of Handel in this regard.

 

Where I disagree is that Brahms and Beethoven don't have to be an orchestral shout. I could never come to terms with Brahms' Requiem until the combination of two circumstances occuring close together completly changed my viewpoint - namely the death of a close friend and mentor and the release of the John Elliot Gardiner recording. Similarly the Roy Goodman Beethoven symphonies are a far cry from the type of heavy. modern instrument travesties that are, unfortunately, the norm.

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I am never quite sure what English music is trying to say, and yet there are certain works which I like a great deal. I love the big Healey Willan, and yet it is a work which somehow seems to suit very few instruments to the point of complete satisfaction.

 

MM

 

I thought Healey Willan was a Canadian organist...? :rolleyes:

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Mozart - a genius....? Hmmm - who was it who said of him "The prattlings of a spoiled child" (or similar)? Too formulaic (and often twee) for my taste, I am afraid. I am also surprised at the Beethoven - give me Bach's B minor Mass or the Passion According to Saint John any day.

 

To take opera - I am exactly the opposite. The honesty and purity of de Grigny or Couperin I find infinitely preferable to over-inflated nonsense performed by generally overweight people, who sing with such a dense vibrato, I am usually at a loss to discern whether the work is being performed in the language in which it was originally written, or simply in a bad English translation. As for the plots - pah! Always the same thing: unrequited love, or some silly mis-demeanour which has apparently escalated into a duel between two spoiled, rich families, etc, etc.

 

Nothing personal, but I hate opera with a passion.

 

I thought the same about Mozart until I heard Mitsuko Uchida play one of the sonatas: there was something about her playing which gave the music a profound beauty, and all the qualities of multum in parvo which we admire in other compsers applied to Mozart as well.

 

As for opera, this brings me to my favourite Blackadder quote (forget "cunning plans" etc.) "the german reputation for brutality is legendary: their operas last several days"

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I'll probably get brained but I like some opera. My3 favouirites:

 

Magic Flute - for me Figaro

Lulu - the diminutive Scottish singing person?

Peter Grimes - Likewise

 

AJJ :rolleyes:

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At the risk of parading my ignorance, I've never quite got the point of Mahler.

 

As for opera I think it should always be in a foreign and incomprehensible language. I don't know why so much liturgical music seems to match words and music together beautifully whilst opera is often so very banal. In fact, all new operas should be written in a made-up language that doesn't mean anything to anyone. Then the lyrics wouldn't be silly and the diction wouldn't matter.

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

(ps ... did anyone else wince at "Bring me my chariots of fur" in the Remembrance Day service on the BBC?)

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