For those of you who love their music “classical”, this coming week doesn’t get any hotter. It’s time for the big countdown for the Hottest 100 works composed in the 20th Century. As in the JJJ Hottest 100 Of All Time, there won’t be a massive representation of Australian works or works composed by women. Here, though, is my prediction of what the of works will probably appear in that list – based on some idea of the voting audience (who are somewhat older than the crowd who vote for the JJJ Hottest 100).
Lots of Rachmaninov. Did I say lots? I meant Long Blocks of Non-Stop Rach. His 2nd, 3rd and 4th Piano Concertos, Paganini Variations, 2nd and 3rd Symphonies, Symphonic Dances, The Bells and various other works were composed in the 20th Century. All have their supporters – and detractors. To some out there, Rach is to 20th Century classical music as Bryan Adams is to rock – over emotional gloop. Not me, however. I personally love the Symphonic Dances.
Mahler will appear – with his 5th to 9th Symphonies all appearing in the first decade. As with Richard Strauss, whose self indulgent musical fondue (arrestingly so) falls largely in the 20th Century. I expect his glorious Four Last Songs to appear near the top. (This one usually makes me tear up)
Also near the top will be Gustav Holst’s The Planets – one 20th century work that usually packs in the punters at symphony concerts. You know The Planets – its Jupiter movement features that rugby song.
I also think Stravinsky will appear – though The Firebird will probably appear higher than his more influential and controversial Rite of Spring, simply because it is flashier and liked more. First the Firebird, then Rite.
I also think we will see some Vaughan Williams and definitely Elgar – even though the Enigma Variations were composed in 1899. His Cello Concerto is a dead cert, thanks largely to the legend that is connected to Jacqueline du Pre’s performances.
In terms of the French, I also believe we will see Messiaen, Debussy, possibly Poulenc and Ravel. That means, definitely this. (Warning – contains Rieu)
From Eastern Europe I would also expect Bartok, and Gorecki – his insanely successful 3rd Symphony – Arvo Part and possibly Martinu and Lutoslawski. I adore Martinu – infectious rhythms.
And then there is the Soviet Union. This is the century that produced Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturian as well as Gubaidulina – though I don’t expect the latter to appear, despite pieces like her Offertorium, which are awesome. (Warning – contains a good violinist)
From the USA, I am expecting some Copland, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, possibly some of the minimalism from Adams and Reich. Ah, Reich. (Put this on while you clean the house – it’s awesome cleaning up music)
Lastly, I do expect Australian works by Peter Sculthorpe, Carl Vine, Ross Edwards, possibly Richard Mills. But not at the top. That would be wonderful, of course – especially if this cracker from Ross Edwards – Dawn Mantras – made it.
And that is what I’m predicting. We shall see. And not a single piece by Jeff Buckley in sight.