Last night I was at Wigmore Hall listening to a concert given by Iestyn Davies (countertenor) and Thomas Dunford (lute) and, not for the first time, I reflected on my musical likes and dislikes.

My wife and I often go to Wigmore — certainly once a week, sometimes twice — so I have plenty of time to mull things over.  Particularly so this week when, in addition to last night’s concert, I will have listened to music performed at the Coronation service, the Coronation concert, a loud busker in the street outside and, tonight, the Eurovision Song Contest.

Last night, steeped in songs by Bach, Handel, Purcell and Dowland (and Anonymous – he/she wrote lots of songs in the 15th and 16th centuries!), confirmed what I have known for some time, but been too cowardly to confess.

Dislikes first.

  1. Any concert, whatever it is , that lasts longer than 90 minutes.
  2. Intervals.
  3. Solo instruments. The piano is the only exception.
  4. Most Lieder. Schubert (see below) is an exception.
  5. Sopranos with high, shrieky voices (the sort that would shatter a wine glass).
  6. Musicians who make inaudible announcements (unfortunately a frequent occurrence at Wigmore).
  7. Any music that lacks a hummable tune.
  8. Any music I don’t know!

I appreciate that number 8 is a massive problem.  It explains why I find the words ‘world premier’ so utterly depressing.

Now some likes.

  1. What I call ‘proper’ music e.g. Baroque, Haydn symphonies, anything tuneful. Concerts given by The English Concert are consistently my favourites.
  2. Just about anything written by Schubert. I even love the really mournful song cycles, Die Schone Mullerin and Winterreise.
  3. Handel and Bach so long as its excerpts – not the whole thing. (Like Wagner, they needed a brave editor!)
  4. At least four players, preferably more. I enjoy seeing the interaction between them.
  5. Symphonies by Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert (of course) and Sibelius.
  6. Operas (with the proviso that I already know them!). I love La Traviata, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw.
  7. Choirs singing church music e.g. psalms (a hangover from when I was a choirboy).
  8. Pop songs from the 60’s,70’s and 80’s. (I wonder why that might be?)

There, I feel much better now that I have been brave and ‘come out’.

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