Magic, etc.

Far be it from me to speak for Greg Sandow, who is capable and willing to do so for himself, but I still think A. C. Douglas is misreading Greg's post about Brahms' orchestration. A. C. reads Greg's analysis of the practical reasons that may have motivated some of Brahms' choices as an attempt to deny the "magic" of the music, the "magic" of other composers of the past, and thereby to raise the composers of today to their level. It's very clear from this post and others that the only way contemporary composers can be on the level of the greats of the past (in A.C.'s ear) is to denigrate the past.

I don't find that in Greg's post. Not at all. He fully acknowledge's the greatness of Brahms' music. Hell, he spends a lot of time, thought, and virtual ink on a couple of measures of a symphony in order to show part of how it's done. A. C. writes that these the magical results of the masters of the past is part of the result of these practical choices, which is not substantially different from what Greg finds, though he comes at it from a different direction.

A. C.'s approach is essentially to use the past to bludgeon the present, but that only works if you accept his assumption that high quality, magical music isn't being written today, at least not by today's "visible" composers. If one listens and reads from that assumption, then one can find support for it, even if it isn't there.

Finally, A.C. criticizes Greg's analysis as "simpleminded at best, not to say approached from the wrong direction", which comment I find baffling. It was a narrowly focused article, treating it's subject in great detail, and from a variety of angles. It also inspires further thought, like the notion I've had for some time that one of the indications of a great tonal composer is how that composer handles the middle voices, which is one of Brahms' strengths (Mozart's as well, for that matter). As to the "wrong direction" comment, the house of art has many mansions, and many ways to approach. Any critical/analytic approach that helps you hear the piece or repertoire in question differently/more clearly is most assuredly not from the "wrong direction".

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