Do you have a "Can't stand it" piece?

Do you have a "Can't stand it" piece? A piece of music that you listen to that you consider to be so beautiful that you have a hard time listening to it? One of mine is Chopin's etude op 25 no 12 in c minor. If there is such a thing as the sounds of Angels singing, this is what it would sound like IMO.

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  • Kristofer P.D.Q. Emerig said:

    I can't go along with this rather melodramatic notion of something being so enjoyable, I just can't stand it, but..

    Pressed to select a piece too good for my standing, I mightn't stand one of the following:

         This is an aria of fairly simple construction.  I believe the extreme beauty is in the voice of Natalie Dessay.  Were this another singer or instrument it would be good but not breathtaking.

         The Bach is what you would expect from Bach, glorious.  What adds to this recording are the original instruments.  Recorders are mellow and allow the human voice to dominate.  The cello also stands out and is perceived as a solo instrument.  The pure tone qualities and blend can't be mimicked by anything but live performers.  I'm not sure that these pieces are truly gems but the production value certainly elevates them to that level.




  • Beautiful song, but  one of the least Bach sounding pieces I've ever heard.  This is one of his last cantatas and sounds more like Handel.  Where's the rhythmical bass or the interplay of violin parts.  Bach must have mellowed with age.
    Fredrick zinos said:

    Magda Kozina AKA Mrs. Simon Rattle, at her best in cantata 199 Tier Gebuckt und Voller Reue

  • How do you know he was 29?  You're saying he wrote 199 cantatas by age 29?  That's unbelievable.

  • I am comparing this piece to a great deal of his piano music which I have performed.  His St. Matthew Passion, also performed.  His Brandenburg Concerto's, parts of most of them I have performed, and many other Cantata's which I have performed and  heard performed live, and his cello suites, though I have only performed the first two.


  • BWV 971, Andante from the Italian Concerto:

    I never heard anybody's (but my) performance of this fragment, and not sure I will enjoy one. Sometimes I play it, using different instruments, many times several hours without a stop, each time finding new mental and emotional associations. This is like reading your favorite book, which takes all your attention every time you open it. I can only compare the expressiveness of this music with the following Marcello's fragment:


  •       So in all probability this was not his 199th cantata.  I know what it takes to perform one Bach cantata.  They are 20 to 30 minutes long and the ones I have heard or performed are very difficult.  He simply would not have had the personnel or time to perform one per week.  This is the same kind of folklore that claims that Handel wrote his nearly three hour Messiah is a few weeks.  We can separate fact from fairy tales.  Even if it is true I choose not to believe it.

    Fredrick zinos said:


    JS Bach was born in  1685. Cantata 199 had its first performance Aug 12 1714. You do the math. This is cantata BWV199. BWV= Bach Werke Verzeichnis (Bach Works Catalog) which groups the compositions by type of work or ensemble and sometimes thematically but not chronologically. The frequently performed Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is BWV 565 composed when Bach was somewhere between 17-20 years of age.  But even if BWV 199 was his nearly 200th mature work written when he was 29 or 30 that would not be out of the question. With respect to the Cantatas he usually turned out one a week. At age 29 he had been composing diligently for 15 years. And to write hundreds or maybe thousands of compositions in that space of time would be entirely consistent with his personality and work ethic. JSB once said "If anyone would have worked as hard, they would have gotten as far."

  • Right... I couldn't type for laughing but I'm fine now. To return to the question: Mozart's Gran Partita.
  • Bob, in response to your April 21 comment, I was introduced to the Firebird Suite by Yes, and agree it is a fantastic piece

  • I agree, in principle, with Kristofer.

    I don't really understand what is meant by "so beautiful I can't stand it," since sublime beauty is something wholly desirable.

    Maybe we are speaking metaphorically. In the story of Zeus and Semele, the mortal woman Semele demands to see the god Zeus in his original divine form, and when she sees that form she is consumed in flames, and her body turns to ash. (As she turns to ash, her unborn child, Dionysus-- or Bacchus-- is saved from destruction by Zeus).

    If there is such a thing as devastatingly divine beauty, "unendurable beauty," then that probably is found Romantic works, in the first movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, or the climax of the first section of the last movement of Mahler's Second, or in the neglected first movement of Mahler's Third. Beethoven's Seventh and Mahler's Third were both "inspired by Bacchus."

    Of course, we may ask, do we want music so beautiful we "cannot stand it," or whether we want music which, in the classical or Platonic sense, gently "harmonizes the listener," and "improves his soul."

    Perhaps Romantic music only "inflames it," whereas certain "classical" ouevres actually edify and satisfy, playing to both the emotional and the intellectual faculties.

    In modern times, we may want music which does all these things; and which surprises us, never allowing us to know when we will be inspired, inflamed, calmed, enlightened, shocked or tranquillized.

  • In my opinion, I absolutely love "Im Wundershoenen Monat Mai" in Schumann's "Dichterliebe"! It brings a tear to my eye every time! As for Debussy's piano pieces, they are what made me want to compose for piano (which was the stepping stone into where I am today with my composing).

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