Saturday, October 18, 2008

Equipment or Learning?

The idea of a "best orchestra ever" is silly; many orchestras, such as Szell's Cleveland, Reiner's Chicago, Karajan's Berlin and Ormandy's Philadelphia were pretty much perfect (I actually am not crazy about Karajan or Ormandy as interpreters of music, but they had magnificent bands, for which they are due considerable credit).

But the orchestra I have really liked since I was in high school (so for more than 30 years) is the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. I write this because tonight I was listening to a recent Concertgebouw concert on KUSC, and damn if they didn't have many of the same qualities they had during Haitink's and even Van Beinum's days. In particular, the woodwinds--especially the double-reeds--have a very specific sound. They best way to describe it, I guess, is at once rich and transparent; it is kind of like getting the best of Berlin and Cleveland wrapped into one sound.

I went to the Orchestra's website to make sure the players weren't all 70 years old; they are not. Indeed, the principal oboe player has only been with the orchestra for about a year; the principal flute player looks like a rather young woman.

So what brings this consistency of sound over the years? Is it learning a tradition? Or is it just the unique sound of the wonderful hall?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's probably not due to ING's sponsorship.

Uncle Billy said...

...here's the answer from the
concertgebouworkest's mouth:

"The special sound of the orchestra results from the interaction of our musicians with our concert hall. The tradition is passed on, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, from one generation of musicians to the next."


Sincerely,
Met vriendelijke groeten,

KONINKLIJK CONCERTGEBOUWORKEST
Joel Ethan Fried
artistic manager
postal address / postadres:
Postbus 78098
1070 LP Amsterdam
street address / bezoekadres:
Jacob Obrechtstraat 51
1071 KJ Amsterdam
tel. 020-3051010
fax. 020-3051001

Uncle Sleepy said...

I thought something looked a little weird last time I visited this post. You have two links to the principal floutist. The aanvoerder hobo player is here:

http://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/page.ocl?pageID=17&tab=musici&id=72

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