1. Leoš Janáček: Taras Bulba (8/10)
Note: I have only ever heard the 1918 version.
Taras Bulba is an extended symphonic poem that is a little more programmatic than most of the ones I’m used to. (In this way, I believe it reminds me of Elgar…) It’s a full blown Romantic piece, with echoes of folk melodies and oodles of feeling. It’s a nice piece and enjoyable music, but I find it a tad too traditional to rave about it.
A few years later: I think I like it more than I did initially, despite its overt Romanticism.
2. Igor Stravinksy: Ragtime (7/10)
It’s not actually ragtime, or anything like it. Like so many European composers, Stravinsky just didn’t seem to get African American music at some fundamental level. But it’s still a compelling piece of music, if you can forget what it’s supposed to be.
3. Edward Elgar: String Quartet in E minor (7/10)
The string quartet is good, but it’s hardly on the level of Bartok. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty good, but it’s not quite one of the great quartets of its era.
4. Frederick Delius: “A Song Before Sunrise” (6/10)
Another typically lush tone poem from Delius. Is this all he does? This kind of romance with a title like this makes me wonder if it’s about sex before the sun comes up, or if it’s merely about staying up really late to await the sunrise. Either way, I feel like this is a little too idyllic given that there was a war on.