16 October 2010

The Breviad

Lists and brackets are legion, and they are always being applied to the arts, which is actually a field whose nature does not lend itself to tidy quantization — The World’s 100 Greatest Symphonies (with its obligatory inclusion of all nine Beethoven symphonies), JS Bach is a greater composer than Mozart, who in turn is greater than Haydn (or is he?) . . . the misapplication of the Sports Standings mentality to the arts knows no end. Or if it be not with us always, it will be outlasted only by Death and Taxes.

Its cousin is the obsession for The Best anything: the best composer of all time (or even, of an era), the best symphony, the best oratorio, the best concerto whose accompaniment includes both contrabassoon and noseflute.

On a lighter note, the superfluous latest instance of this at the Good Music Guide forum — The Best Short Composition Ever Written (I mean, just read that aloud, and tell me you don’t feel silly) resulted in all the usual banter, and all the usual counter-proposals, and some YouTube samples. And the amusing thought occurred to me, apart from the futile exercise of settling on “the best,” of assembling a YouTube gallery for the ADD-impaired (if we consider it an impairment).

So, for your listening and viewing pleasure, a concert suite which in total shouldn't take up even ten minutes of your time:

Prokofiev, Vision fugitive Opus 22 № 10, Ridicolosamente

Ligeti, Musica ricercata VIII (arranged for percussion)

Skryabin, Prelude Opus 11 № 13, in Gb Major

Stravinsky, Epitaphium für das Grabmal des Prinzen Max Egon zu Fürstenberg for flute, clarinet & harp

Chopin, Prelude in c minor, Opus 28 № 20

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