Guess who said this?
I seem to be really drawn to minor keys. Some people would say, well, they’re melancholy or they’re dark, but I don’t think so. I think they’re richer and I get a sense when I listen to a minor key that the composer has somehow worked harder at it.
You’ll be surprised.
(Thank you, Alex Ross.)
Incidentally, here’s something relevant that I wrote for Commentary a couple of months ago apropos of Mozart’s minor-key works:
I refer to the comparatively small number of multi-movement works cast in minor keys–two piano sonatas out of 17, two piano concertos out of 27, two symphonies out of 41. For while these and other minor-key works of like scale are not necessarily of higher quality than their major-key counterparts, they do share a special intensity of expression not found in such major-key masterpieces as the C Major Symphony, K. 551, familiarly known as the “Jupiter.”
This intensity manifests itself in many ways, from the turbulence of the first movement of the D Minor Piano Concerto, K. 466, to the crisp austerity of the E Minor Violin Sonata, K. 304. Sometimes, as in the G Minor String Quintet, K. 516, one perceives the minor-key quality as a tint, a single aspect of a carefully balanced, classically poised totality. At other times, as in the unabashedly stern A Minor Piano Sonata, K. 310, it becomes overwhelming, infusing an entire piece with its distinctive coloration. In every case, though, the large-scale minor-key pieces, different as they are from one another, are similar in their power to stir the listener’s emotions, just as one feels, whether rightly or wrongly, that Mozart’s own emotions were more fully engaged in the act of their creation–that he was somehow playing for higher stakes….
I’d say I’m on the same page as our mystery guest!