Vivaldi's 37 BASSOON concertos (complete)

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Vivaldi's 37 BASSOON concertos (complete)

Post by Lance » Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:47 am

Now, here's one for you. All 37 of Antonio Vivaldi's bassoon concertos can be had for a near pittance (Berkshire) with one of the foremost basoonists of the day, Daniel Smith, an apparent American who has made it big especially in England, but whose art is known around the world. He performs in classical and jazz music and is probably the most recorded bassoonist in the world today.

ASV issued five disc in one nice boxed set [DCS 552, comprised of individual CDs 971, 972, 973, 974 and 975]. Two ensembles provide the orchestral accompaniments: the English Chamber Orchestra under Philip Ledger and the Zagreb Soloists under Tonko Ninic. Each CD is over 70 minutes in length, with some as long as 75 minutes.

Quite a bargain for around $25. Imagine a radio series of nothing but Vivaldi's bassoon concerti!
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:58 am

I may actually buy this, even though it upsets my summer layaway plans, so to speak. You gotta love Vivaldi. He is among other things perfect Tafelmusik, and as for the quantitites of concertos, just keep 'em coming, I say.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by C.B. » Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:59 am

...Daniel Smith, an apparent American who has made it big especially in England, but whose art is known around the world. He performs in classical and jazz music and is probably the most recorded bassoonist in the world today.
Sorry to disagree somewhat, but Daniel Smith is not that highly regarded, at least not among bassoonists, judging by the mixed reviews his recordings have received in the IDRS (International Double Reed Society) Journal.

It all has to do with a curious phenomenon called "flicking".

In the world of American bassoon playing, there are basically two opposing "camps" that differ on the use of the speaker keys on the wing joint (the left hand). These keys can be used to facilitate playing in the middle octave from A (below middle C on the piano) to D above. The best players depress the high A, C & D keys momentarily at the beginning of these notes, and this action is called "flicking". When properly executed, flicking eliminates that ugly "chuffing" or cracking sound at the start of the note that is characteristic of even many big-name symphony bassoonists.

It seems to be a West Coast-East Coast thing, as the teaching of "flicking" in this country can be traced back to Fritz Moritz and Norman Herzberg, the former being the principal bassoonist of the L.A. Philharmonic for many years, while the latter was a long-time teacher at the University of Southern California with many important students to his credit.

Non-flickers (and Daniel Smith is one) come mostly from the East Coast, where it is still infrequently taught, even discouraged--especially at such august institutions as Juliard and Curtis. The sound of a non-flicker is instantly recognizable--a sort of "grumpy", non-legato sound in the critical middle octave. The kind of sound that, unfortunately, has been considered for too long to be the "normal" sound of the bassoon--in America, at least. Flickers, by contrast, have a more singing, legato sound (when called for), with better power and projection.

I am primarily an oboist, but presently I am taking up the bassoon again (after a 35 year hiatus from the instrument) so that I can play it in our local concert band. I admit to being a bit prejudiced on this issue, since my teacher is my friend and neighbor Bob Williams (principal bassoon, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), a former Herzberg student. Bob is probably the leading advocate of "flicking" in this country.

Aside from my advocacy of "flicking", I really believe that it improves the sound of the bassoon. It's a shame that American bassoon pedagogy has been allowed to progress to this point without flicking being a mandatory part of the overall technique.

Incidentally, European bassoonists, both German-system and French-system, have always used the speaker keys in some way or another to help with the middle-octave notes. They in fact shake their heads in disbelief at America bassoonists who try to play these notes "on a wing and a prayer", without using the speaker keys.

And so, while Daniel Smith's recordings are currently the only complete collection of the Vivaldi concertos, I wouldn't buy them for the bassoon playing. Or if you do, definitely listen to them with a "grain of salt".

Just my two cents' worth.

C.B.
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Post by MaestroDJS » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:07 am

Mmm, 37 bassoons.

This sounds like a rejected early sketch for the big show-stopper in The Music Man. "Thirty-seven bassoons led the big parade..." Nah.... :)

Dave

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Post by Lance » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:19 am

Well, C. B., your "two cents" is certainly worth reading and is worth considerably more than a mere two cents. Daniel Smith may not be a Leonard Sharrow of Toscanini fame, but then Sharrow's recorded works are almost non-existent except in ensemble playing. Daniel Smith, despite what one may think of his virtuosity and caliber of playing, did something no one else has done in recording this integral collection. I agree with what you say about some of his playing, it can be rather mundane at times, but clearly his virtuosity and knowledge of the instrument comes through. Few other bassoonists I know have achieved what he has in recording such a diverse amount of music, some of which may otherwise be unheard. [You being an oboist, parenthetically, speaking of oboists, I am a great fan of three, namely Léon Goossens, Pierre Pierlot, and Han de Vries. Does it get any better than that, at least on recordings?]

I also know people who find the Chopin playing of Artur Rubinstein abominable, but I do like to give credit where it's due, and I was personally fascinated by Daniel Smith's recordings. Also, we may find more "artistic" performances of a few of these works (with Sharrow, in fact, Baker, Galimir and others) in recordings made with Max Goberman in a series put out on Musical Heritage LPs some years ago.

Yours is a very fine response, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and where I learned much from someone close to the instrument, especially about this "flicking" technique. It's this type of discussion I really value.
C.B. wrote:
...Daniel Smith, an apparent American who has made it big especially in England, but whose art is known around the world. He performs in classical and jazz music and is probably the most recorded bassoonist in the world today.
Sorry to disagree somewhat, but Daniel Smith is not that highly regarded, at least not among bassoonists, judging by the mixed reviews his recordings have received in the IDRS (International Double Reed Society) Journal.

It all has to do with a curious phenomenon called "flicking".

In the world of American bassoon playing, there are basically two opposing "camps" that differ on the use of the speaker keys on the wing joint (the left hand). These keys can be used to facilitate playing in the middle octave from A (below middle C on the piano) to D above. The best players depress the high A, C & D keys momentarily at the beginning of these notes, and this action is called "flicking". When properly executed, flicking eliminates that ugly "chuffing" or cracking sound at the start of the note that is characteristic of even many big-name symphony bassoonists.

It seems to be a West Coast-East Coast thing, as the teaching of "flicking" in this country can be traced back to Fritz Moritz and Norman Herzberg, the former being the principal bassoonist of the L.A. Philharmonic for many years, while the latter was a long-time teacher at the University of Southern California with many important students to his credit.

Non-flickers (and Daniel Smith is one) come mostly from the East Coast, where it is still infrequently taught, even discouraged--especially at such august institutions as Juliard and Curtis. The sound of a non-flicker is instantly recognizable--a sort of "grumpy", non-legato sound in the critical middle octave. The kind of sound that, unfortunately, has been considered for too long to be the "normal" sound of the bassoon--in America, at least. Flickers, by contrast, have a more singing, legato sound (when called for), with better power and projection.

I am primarily an oboist, but presently I am taking up the bassoon again (after a 35 year hiatus from the instrument) so that I can play it in our local concert band. I admit to being a bit prejudiced on this issue, since my teacher is my friend and neighbor Bob Williams (principal bassoon, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), a former Herzberg student. Bob is probably the leading advocate of "flicking" in this country.

Aside from my advocacy of "flicking", I really believe that it improves the sound of the bassoon. It's a shame that American bassoon pedagogy has been allowed to progress to this point without flicking being a mandatory part of the overall technique.

Incidentally, European bassoonists, both German-system and French-system, have always used the speaker keys in some way or another to help with the middle-octave notes. They in fact shake their heads in disbelief at America bassoonists who try to play these notes "on a wing and a prayer", without using the speaker keys.

And so, while Daniel Smith's recordings are currently the only complete collection of the Vivaldi concertos, I wouldn't buy them for the bassoon playing. Or if you do, definitely listen to them with a "grain of salt".

Just my two cents' worth.

C.B.
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Post by C.B. » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:52 am

Lance -

Thanks for your response. The issue with Daniel Smith, I think, has less to do with artistry, virtuosity, or even his having recorded the complete Vivaldi concertos--all areas where Mr Smith has shown energy and enterprise. Rather, it has to do with the basic sound of his instrument and the "cracking" in the middle register. Not my idea of how the bassoon should sound! But this fine point needn't stand in the way of others enjoying the collection, which has many merits.

Of course, one could argue that if Mr Smith had learned flicking as a basic part of his technique from the very beginning, his virtuosity would be that much more enhanced, but that's a moot point.

I would be remiss if I didn't provide you with an example of how I (and many others) think the bassoon should sound--beautiful, full, singing, with a sustained legato and no ugly "chuffs" between notes. Nothing like the "clown of the orchestra" and "grumpy old Grandfather" stereotype that most people know. Yes, folks, it's an unabashed "plug" for a recent CD by my teacher Bob Williams, of some very lovely 19th-century bassoon music by Julius Weissenborn, whose Method is known and feared by all beginning bassoon students:

http://www.equilibri.com/recordings/rec_72.eq

As for the oboe, I'm an unrepentant American oboist. I think the Tabuteau school of playing is the finest in the world, with the most beautiful, ravishing sound of all. The three oboists you list are, of course, all fine players in their own ways, but only Dutchman de Vries comes close to the beauty of sound of the Tabuteau school in my estimation. I admit to being turned off by the thin, grating sound of the traditional French school as exemplified by Pierlot.

What's that?--Heinz Holliger you say? A phenomenal techician, but his basic sound is not very interesting to listen to. Not even as expressive as some of the greatest American players. And, he has made some very nasty remarks in print about American oboists, much to his discredit.

C.B.
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:56 am

What, no feed? We have to buy it?

I enjoyed your very informative post, C.D., er, C.B.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Vivaldi's 37 BASSOON concertos (complete)

Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:52 pm

Lance wrote:Now, here's one for you. All 37 of Antonio Vivaldi's bassoon concertos can be had for a near pittance (Berkshire) with one of the foremost basoonists of the day, Daniel Smith, an apparent American who has made it big especially in England, but whose art is known around the world. He performs in classical and jazz music and is probably the most recorded bassoonist in the world today.
As a professional bassoonist, I must add my comments here re Mr Smith...

he is known throughout the bassoon world - not favorably, I'm afraid...

he is known throughout the 2ble reed world as a bit of a self-promoted phony, who really does not play very well, but talked himself into a big recording contract...

re his Vivaldi recordings - I heard an early one, and it was awful - splattered notes, bobbles, poor intonation, uneven scale, mundane/unimaginative phrasing.

I heard another one some time later - it was not quite as bad, but still not even close to some of the great recordings which are available...

John Miller, Klaus Thunemann. Maurice Allard have all recorded splendid discs of Vivaldi's wonderful bassoon concerti...

don't waste your money on Danny Smith. As a bassonoist, I'd hate to think that his Vivaldi series would in any way be interpreted by the listening public as the present standard for bassoon playing around the world...believe me....it's not.

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Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:55 pm

C.B. wrote:
...Daniel Smith, an apparent American who has made it big especially in England, but whose art is known around the world. He performs in classical and jazz music and is probably the most recorded bassoonist in the world today.
Sorry to disagree somewhat, but Daniel Smith is not that highly regarded, at least not among bassoonists, judging by the mixed reviews his recordings have received in the IDRS (International Double Reed Society) Journal.

It all has to do with a curious phenomenon called "flicking".
You are correct about Mr. Smith's reputation amongst Bassoonists. he is not highly regarded at all.

his deficiencies however, go much further than merely the flicking technique, which is basic to bassoon playing.

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Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:58 pm

Lance wrote:You being an oboist, parenthetically, speaking of oboists, I am a great fan of three, namely Léon Goossens, Pierre Pierlot, and Han de Vries. Does it get any better than that, at least on recordings?
sure - Harold Gomberg, Ray Still....

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Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:04 pm

I think the Tabuteau school of playing is the finest in the world, with the most beautiful, ravishing sound of all.
yes, quite a phenomenal legacy - so many wonderful players....
--Heinz Holliger you say? A phenomenal techician, but his basic sound is not very interesting to listen to.
right - I agree completely - amazing technique...not very interesting tone.
And, he has made some very nasty remarks in print about American oboists, much to his discredit.
LOL!! that goes both ways, of course. Ray Still, the great former CSO principal, made some really harsh comments about Holliger in an IDRS interview some years back - basically what you said above - <<great technique, lousy sound>>.

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Post by Lance » Wed Jun 22, 2005 5:11 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Lance wrote:You being an oboist, parenthetically, speaking of oboists, I am a great fan of three, namely Léon Goossens, Pierre Pierlot, and Han de Vries. Does it get any better than that, at least on recordings?
sure - Harold Gomberg, Ray Still....
Of course - these are wonderful artists. I should have included them, but limited myself to just three. I appreciate the work of both of these masters. It's a pity that Gomberg, especially, didn't record more highlighting his own exquisite art. I'd love to do a radio tribute to the man and have the material he recorded with Bernstein and Mitropoulos, along with a private recording of Loeffler's music.
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Post by Lance » Wed Jun 22, 2005 5:29 pm

C.B. wrote:Lance -

[snipped]
As for the oboe, I'm an unrepentant American oboist. I think the Tabuteau school of playing is the finest in the world, with the most beautiful, ravishing sound of all. The three oboists you list are, of course, all fine players in their own ways, but only Dutchman de Vries comes close to the beauty of sound of the Tabuteau school in my estimation. I admit to being turned off by the thin, grating sound of the traditional French school as exemplified by Pierlot.

What's that?--Heinz Holliger you say? A phenomenal techician, but his basic sound is not very interesting to listen to. Not even as expressive as some of the greatest American players. And, he has made some very nasty remarks in print about American oboists, much to his discredit.

C.B.
Thank you, C. B., and the other obviously knowledgeable oboists we have here on CMG that surely know their stuff. In relistening to some of the bassoon concerti on the ASV set, I have made some observations, though I discovered on my own, that Smith's handling of his instrument, and some of the sounds he makes, seems to be somewhat unnatural. all of which is substantiated in your post, and by others here as well. However, my main interest in acquiring this set was because I have access to all 37 concertos in one convenient box. I have other recordings of a several of these concertos performed by others as well.

Speaking of Pierre Pierlot, I fell in love with his tone quality after listening to Bellini's Oboe Concerto (sometimes performed on the trumpet). What a sweet, singing tone I discovered in this Musical Heritage Society LP, which eventually came out on compact disc by the original company, Erato of France. The more I heard of Pierlot, the more I was fascinated with what I heard, enough to try to acquire many of his recordings, most of which appeared on Erato, some on EMI and Columbia/Sony, with a few Musical Heritage LPs, such as the Strauss Oboe Concerto and several others which have never been reissued on CD.

Tabuteau was a supreme master. His CDs (from Boston Records) explaining various pieces, and another in performance with Stokowski, are special recordings. His Casals Festival recordings are precious, and of course, his First Chair (Columbia) recording on LP with Ormandy stands out. It is truly a great pity that more was left for posterity. There is so much to be learned from records - if they were more available.
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Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:24 pm

Lance wrote: It's a pity that Gomberg, especially, didn't record more highlighting his own exquisite art. I'd love to do a radio tribute to the man and have the material he recorded with Bernstein and Mitropoulos, along with a private recording of Loeffler's music.
Gomberg recorded one of the greatest solo albums ever - the Baroque Oboe - with CBS Orchestra conducted by Ozawa, back in the 60s. it is absolutely exquisite...

he also recorded a Vivaldi Concerto with Bernstein - it was available on Bernstein Century - Vivaldi Concerti for diverse instruments, IIRC.
also he recorded the Bach Concerto for Vln/Ob with Isaac Stern/LB/NYPO.

The Baroque Oboe is the real prize tho - shame on CBS/Sony for not issuing this on CD.
I have it on CD from an LP transfer.

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Post by Heck148 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:30 pm

Lance wrote: However, my main interest in acquiring this set was because I have access to all 37 concertos in one convenient box. I have other recordings of a several of these concertos performed by others as well.
yes, the first complete set of Vivaldi bassoon concerti is a real plum, that is deserving of absolutely first-class treatment...

I had heard that Klaus Thunemann was supposed to be recording them all, but the project got cancelled in mid-course :cry:

Thunemann is a very fine player, light-years ahead of Mr. Smith in every regard.

another fine collection, that dates back to late 50s or so -

V. Bianchi - with an Italian Cham Orch - he recorded 4 or 5 of the concerti. these sometimes pop up indivdually on various concerto collections...

Fugu

Post by Fugu » Thu Jun 23, 2005 12:54 am

Has anyone heard the Naxos series being done? What of that players technique?

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jun 23, 2005 1:25 am

What a great thread!

As a former oboist, I have to second the comments about Tabuteau and ask if anyone knows my favorite oboist, Harry Shulman from the Pittsburg SO? I thought his sound was absolutely the finest I ever heard but he recorded only 2 lps that I know of and none were transferred to CD.
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Post by Heck148 » Thu Jun 23, 2005 5:57 pm

Dan Ferguson wrote:Has anyone heard the Naxos series being done? What of that players technique?
I've not heard these yet - I believe the bassoonist is with the Nicolas Ezterhazy Sinfonia which usually records with Bela Drahos...

I've a number of Haydn symphonies with this group, and the bassoon playing sounds quite good...

One problem with the Vivaldi bassoon concerti recordings is that everyone tends to record the same favorites, over and over - the e minor, the 2 a minors, the Bb "La Notte".

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Post by Lance » Thu Jun 23, 2005 9:36 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Lance wrote: It's a pity that Gomberg, especially, didn't record more highlighting his own exquisite art. I'd love to do a radio tribute to the man and have the material he recorded with Bernstein and Mitropoulos, along with a private recording of Loeffler's music.
Gomberg recorded one of the greatest solo albums ever - the Baroque Oboe - with CBS Orchestra conducted by Ozawa, back in the 60s. it is absolutely exquisite...

he also recorded a Vivaldi Concerto with Bernstein - it was available on Bernstein Century - Vivaldi Concerti for diverse instruments, IIRC.
also he recorded the Bach Concerto for Vln/Ob with Isaac Stern/LB/NYPO.

The Baroque Oboe is the real prize tho - shame on CBS/Sony for not issuing this on CD. I have it on CD from an LP transfer.
I may have the Baroque Oboe. Do you have the LP catalogue number at your fingertips by any chance? And I have the wonderful Concerto for Diverse Instruments with Bernstein, one of my favorite performances of this work, along with the Bach work mentioned, but still, for an artist of this caliber, one could have wished for more.
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Post by Heck148 » Fri Jun 24, 2005 7:38 am

Lance wrote: I may have the Baroque Oboe. Do you have the LP catalogue number at your fingertips by any chance?


Columbia - MS 6832

for an artist of this caliber, one could have wished for more.


definitely - he did record the Benjamin Britten "Metamophoses after Ovid", and the Mozart Oboe 4tet for Vanguard.
ihave the Britten, but not the Mozart... :(

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Post by Lance » Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:12 am

Thank you! I located my self-made LP catalogue and did some checking. I have a pristine copy of MS 6832. It really doesn't get much better than this artist-wise. Included in The Gomberg Baroque Ensemble is Nathan Stutch, cello; Morris Newman, bassoon, and Igor Kipnis, who was responsible for the harpsichord realizations. You're right! This is one that would have been nice to see on Sony's "Essential" series instead of some of the other stuff they issued.

Further checking on Gomberg, on Columbia/Sony LPs, I have MS 6949, Bach concertos w/Bernstein; 47642, Vivaldi concertos; ML 5603: Hindemith Sonata, Loeffler with Mitropoulos. Don't forget on RCA LSC-6140, there's the Bach Brandenburg Concertos with Charles Munch/Boston Symphony. Some of the Columbia material was issued on more than one LP number as they reissued the Stern and Bernstein material. I'm not sure, but the Mozart Oboe Quartet may have been on Vanguard's Cardinal Series as C-10064. I just can't place my hands on that LP at the moment.

Some of these things may have seen the light of day on CD. I have a Nickson Records private issue of the Hindemith and Loeffler. Ambassador Records [Pantheon Legends] also issued a CD [023956] with the Loeffler Two Rhapsodies, Mitropoulos, piano and Milton Katims, viola. This CD also features Debussy's Sonata #2 with Laura Newell, harp and Milton Katims, viola along with Villa-Lobos's String Trio with Alexander Schneider, Milton Katims, and Frank Miller.

I keep telling everyone: "Don't discard your LPs! They still contain great treasures."
Heck148 wrote:
Lance wrote: I may have the Baroque Oboe. Do you have the LP catalogue number at your fingertips by any chance?
Columbia - MS 6832
for an artist of this caliber, one could have wished for more.
definitely - he did record the Benjamin Britten "Metamophoses after Ovid", and the Mozart Oboe 4tet for Vanguard.
ihave the Britten, but not the Mozart... :(
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Post by Lance » Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:20 am

Has anybody mentioned the name of the brilliant English bassoonist, ARCHIE CAMDEN? I have long enjoyed a British HMV "Great Instrumentalist Series" (No. Eight) featuring this artist in about 48 minutes of treasured playing. His recordings were made mostly between 1956 and as late as 1967 offering Mozart's Concerto in B-flat, K. 191; Stamitz's Concerto in F, a series of Gailliard (arr. Camden) pieces, and works by Senaillé, Kerrison and Godfrey, all performed with the London Mozart Players under the direction of Harry Blech. I don't believe this has been reissued on CD.
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vivaldi oboe sonatas

Post by hautbois » Fri Jun 24, 2005 12:04 pm

I recently bought Paul Goodwin playing the baroque oboe on Vivaldi's oboe sonatas. I think it is quite superb! How many of us here actually appreciate the recordings of old instruments? As for oboe playing, i am a basic learner of the so called 'international' school, where there is no boudaries and much has been influenced by the American school. I guess globalisation has made its way into even oboe playing. I personally love Maurice Bourgue, Alex Klein, Han De Vries, John De Lancie, Gordon Hunt and Heinz Holliger. I believe its the musicality that counts more than technical facility (of course but to say the different styles of playing?) and these musicians not only play oboe but more importantly good music!

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Re: vivaldi oboe sonatas

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:41 pm

hautbois wrote:I recently bought Paul Goodwin playing the baroque oboe on Vivaldi's oboe sonatas. I think it is quite superb! How many of us here actually appreciate the recordings of old instruments? As for oboe playing, i am a basic learner of the so called 'international' school, where there is no boudaries and much has been influenced by the American school. I guess globalisation has made its way into even oboe playing. I personally love Maurice Bourgue, Alex Klein, Han De Vries, John De Lancie, Gordon Hunt and Heinz Holliger. I believe its the musicality that counts more than technical facility (of course but to say the different styles of playing?) and these musicians not only play oboe but more importantly good music!
Nice post, and also nice to see you here. Wish you would come around more often.

Heinz Holliger: the name has come up several times here. While I personally appreciate the man's status, and certainly recognize his marvelous musicianship, (and I have a many of his recordings on LP and CD), his tone quality and musical sensitivity (or lack thereof) has not completely captured my heart. He's outstanding in ensemble works, but some of the solo material I'd prefer hearing others. He's been around for a long time; he must be doing something right. I wonder what "school" he is from ... anybody know? (Lazy today, so wonderful in upstate New York ... a rare day, indeed!)
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C.B.
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Heinz Holliger

Post by C.B. » Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:29 pm

Heinz Holliger: the name has come up several times here. While I personally appreciate the man's status, and certainly recognize his marvelous musicianship, (and I have a many of his recordings on LP and CD), his tone quality and musical sensitivity (or lack thereof) has not completely captured my heart. He's outstanding in ensemble works, but some of the solo material I'd prefer hearing others. He's been around for a long time; he must be doing something right. I wonder what "school" he is from ... anybody know? (Lazy today, so wonderful in upstate New York ... a rare day, indeed!)
Heinz Holliger is Swiss, but his style of playing, especially the scrape of his reed, is more aligned with the traditional French school. Oboists are fond of talking about the scrape of their reeds--this refers to the basic design and how it influences the sound, which in the case of Holliger, Pierlot and others is "short", with relatively more bark left on than the typical American "long scrape" reed. The "short scrape" results in a brighter sound, but one with less depth, subtlety and dynamic nuance IMO than the familiar American (Tabuteau) sound, which is often described as being basically "dark" but with a sparkle to it.

Of course, each nation is fiercely proud of and loyal to its own national style of playing, and I don't mean to denegrate French oboists in any way, or hold up American oboists as "superior" to everybody else. I do, however, assert my unqualified preference for the American (Tabuteau-school) way of playing the oboe, both in my own performances, and in listening to records. I like listening to other schools of oboe playing--the Viennese, for example, make some very lovely sounds--but I always come back to the (North) Americans.

Holliger is most notable for the advances he has made in oboe technique, including, but not limited to such things as extending the compass of the oboe, multiphonics, extreme dexterity (especially in the area of articulation--i.e., double-tonguing), and a very adventurous performance style. Plus, he is responsble for commisioning many original works from notable 20th century composers. The list includes such names as Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Witold Lutosawski, Hans Werner Henze, Andre Jolivet, Frank Martin, Krysztof Penderecki and Karlheinz Stockhausen, among others.

Frankly, as an amateur oboist, I would never dream of performing most of these pieces--they are so far beyond my technique. I don't even own recordings of most of them, sad to say. My interest in oboe music centers on the Baroque and Classical period--which is still where the bulk of the repertoire lies.

I'm seldom drawn to listening to Holliger's recordings of works from those periods--for the reasons given previously having to do with tone production. If it's a baroque work, such as the Zelenka Trio Sonatas, I'd rather hear those done on period instruments anyway. I think Holliger doesn't really have a grasp of proper baroque style--his is a more "generalized" or "multi-purpose" approach. But the same could be said of most American symphony oboists, too.

The New York times called Heinz Holliger "the world's premier oboist". That may be true, but his appeal, at least in this country, is of a very specialized nature.

To answer your question about Archie Camden, he was an important British bassoonist of the first half of the 20th century, but I can't tell you anything about which orchestras he played in, or who his most important students were (I could look it up, but I'm being lazy right now, too). I do know that his son, Anthony Camden, was Principal Oboe of the London Symphony for a while. Anthony is still very active, and is considered one of the leading British oboists of our time. One of the best-sounding British oboists, if you like that sort of thing.

Cheers,

C.B.
Musica magnorum est solamen dulce laborum

Heck148
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Re: Heinz Holliger

Post by Heck148 » Fri Jun 24, 2005 9:29 pm

C.B. wrote:
To answer your question about Archie Camden, he was an important British bassoonist of the first half of the 20th century, but I can't tell you anything about which orchestras he played in.
Principal BBC SO 1933-46. taught at Royal college of Music from 1946-58, returing again in 1963...made one of the earliest recordings of the Mozart Concerto K191. A prominent player, very highly regarded in England...fine technique - influenced a whole generation of outstanding English bassoon players...

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