There was just an article in Slate where they asked a number of literary figures which "great works" they thought were the most overrated. Nice exercise. I wonder if we could do the same with music? I think I would put high on the list these works:
- Vivaldi, The Four Seasons --maybe it is just over-exposure, but I really can't listen to it any more
- Mahler, Symphonies --endless, narcissistic and neurotic
- Handel, just about any of his sets of variations. And I have never been able to listen to the Messiah without falling asleep. The story goes one hoary old orchestral musician says to the other, "you know, last night I dreamed I was playing the Messiah and I woke up and, by God, I was!"
- Recuerdos de la Alhambra --perhaps it's just me, but I can't stand to hear this piece, or pretty much any tremolo piece, any more
- Dvořák, Humoresque --no, sorry, it is just too hokey
- And finally, Beethoven, Für Elise--though probably not the worst piece from his pen, certainly one of his weaker moments...