Many thanks, Artemis, for this.
The Ballads have been playing all yesterday evening and again this afternoon. Some progress in the more tuneful parts but still unable to take in the clashes (in direction as much as in sound). Not the cascades and the fireworks - I'm fine with those. Sometimes I'm listening so hard I get actually scared of what my conditioned mind and deaf ears were not expecting as ballads. Sometimes my mind wanders off. Mark: C-. I will continue to try (though effort in listening is a big contrast to the easy enchantment of the arias etc). The Caravaggio I went to a few days ago and interrupted out in sheer disbelief. Next big step for me, perhaps.
A confessed philistine and ignoramus, I sometimes wonder about the possibility of much modern art and modern music having an emperor's-clothes factor, and (having seen examples of Philippe's puckish sense of humour) can't dismiss the thought entirely.