I am reading Sir John Eliot Gardiner book on JS Bach and I came across this quote from a letter to the publisher Jacques Durand:
“When the old Saxon Cantor hasn’t any ideas, he starts out from any old thing and is truly pitiless. In fact he’s only bearable when he’s admirable. Which, you’ll say, is still something! If he’d had a friend – a publisher perhaps – who could have told him to take a day off every week, perhaps, then we’d have been spared several hundreds of pages in which you have to walk between rows of mercilessly regulated and joyless bars, each one with its little ‘subject’ and ‘countersubject’.
Sometimes – often indeed – his prodigious technical skill (which is, after all, only his individual form of gymnastics) is not enough to fill the terrible void created by his insistence on developing a mediocre idea no matter what the cost!”
This brought to mind Sir Thomas Beecham’s saying “Too much counterpoint, and, what is worse, Protestant counterpoint.”