Well, the final voting list is up and voting has commenced. I totally missed the nomination period so I can’t complain about any absences I would have liked to see on there but it’s a big selection, quite varied and presents some areas for me to explore, which is always exciting.
I have to admit, as a pedant who obsesses over lists I do have some issues with the list. Some of them are true pedantry as some entries are in different formats than others. One puzzling entry is Louis Couperin’s Pieces de Clavecine…. The subeditor in me (that’s my paying job) reviles the fourth dot in the ellipsis, the rest of me just wonders what the ellipsis means. A quick look on Wikipedia tells me his works weren’t published in his lifetime but he wrote a lot of music for the harpsichord. It appears that perhaps the ellipsis means the entry is for the sum total of his keyboard compositions, which seems somewhat strange.
In a roundabout way that brings me to my main issue with the list, some entries are for huge swathes of composition while others are for succinct pieces. If for example we can vote for Louis Couperin’s entire solo harpsichord output as one thing, why must we vote for specific Keyboard Sonatas by Scarlatti, none of which is longer than three minutes? Of course, there is no grouping of Scarlatti’s sonatas like Francois Couperin’s ‘Books’, but there isn’t for Louis’ either beyond collecting them all under one title.
Perhaps the most obvious example for me is that the Brandenburg Concertos are all listed separately yet everywhere else such groups are listed as one piece. Handel’s Concerto Grossi Op 6 No 1-12 for instance and his three Water Music Suites which are simply listed as Water Music (that’s the pedant in me I know). Even worse would be Rameau’s Pieces de clavecin en concert, which are unrelated works written over a number of years that just happen to be, essentially, harpsichord concertos. Why would such distinct works be listed as one when the Brandenburgs are six?
On another point of pure pedantry, the Pieces de clavecin en concert are listed as ‘Solo instrument’ despite being concertos.
Pedantic asides aside, I do find some of those listings annoyingly inconsistent. It’s not going to hugely detract from the experience and I’m definitely enjoying exploring the music and pondering my voting options. And I look forward to the final countdown with proverbial bate all over my breath. But the consistency would be nice.
As to what I’ll be voting for, the shortlist is still forming but there are some early favourites. I’m somewhat torn when it comes to JS Bach; I want to spread the love among composers again and only vote for one piece each, but that leaves me with deciding between his Cello Suite No 1 and Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The latter has been with me since before I can remember, but the former is breathtakingly beautiful.
Handel is somewhat easier for me. There are parts of two of his oratorios I’d possibly vote for by themselves, but I don’t want to vote for the whole works so they’re out. Which leaves me with his Concerto Grossi Op 6 and Music for Royal Fireworks to decide between.
Vivaldi is another problem; I love The Four Seasons but they’re surely going to do fine as they are – although I predict his Gloria will be his top ranked piece. That leaves me with choosing one of his other pieces, almost certainly a concerto but which one?
Other frontrunners are Corelli’s Concerto Grossi, although I’ve recently discovered his Violin Sonatas and they’re wonderful so there’s another choice. Tartini’s Violin Concerto in G is another recent discovery I’m enjoying immensely.
Hmm. There’s a lot more to be considered. I’ll keep you informed.