Music that is neither easy nor difficult

Dependent arising takes me from a red poppy flowering in our front garden to Reinhold Glière's ballet of the same name. As I write Glière's Third Symphony Il'ya Muromets plays in the Naxos recording seen above. Glière lived in Russia from 1875 and 1956 and wrote well crafted music that is neither easy nor difficult to listen to. Classical music is making many mistakes in its desperation to connect with new audiences, and one of these is to concentrate exclusively on just two marketing categories - difficult' music, Shostakovich, Mahler etc, for the enlightened listener, and 'easy' music, butchered Gershwinmusicals etc, for the lay listener. Such dualism ignores the middle way, a wealth of music that is neither easy nor difficult to listen to, and which is perfectly capable of winning new audiences. Glière is just one example, Howard Hanson is another, and I am sure readers can add other names to the list. Naxos has a particular flair for spotting 'neither easy nor difficult' music, a flair that has been met with the occasional sniffy response. Credit also goes to Vassily Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave the BBC Proms premiere of Glière's Third Symphony in 2007 in defiance of the prevailing slice, dice and bland-out culture.   

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Pliable said…
Readers who know their Glière will conclude, quite correctly, that I am arguing against myself - his Third Symphony reached a wide audience through the composer-authorised heavily cut version championed by Leopold Stokowski. However, the featured Naxos version plays for an un-cut 75' 33".

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