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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001301.txt from 1997/09

From: Ginstling/Ransom <>
Subj: Re: difference?
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 02:38:00 -0400

Lorne G. Buick wrote:
>- --Continuing with degrees of difference... if you had Neidich, Stoltzman,
>Daniels, Meyer (S) and Meyer (P) play some Brahms (or Rossini or
>Saint-Saens or whatever) behind a screen you would hear big differences. If
>you had the principals of Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York and
>Boston (are those "the big five"?) playing Brahms 3 (or whatever) you would
>hear much smaller differences. If you gave a conductor ten minutes with
>each to get them to play the excerpt identically I bet some of them would
>fool you.
>- --Individual interpretive talent is a relatively small part of orchestral
>playing. The goal in preparing for an orchestral career is to be _able_ to
>do absolutely anything on the instrument, and ready to change the way you
>do it according to the interpretation of the conductor. You have to be able
>to shape a phrase beautifully but you don't have to understand sonata form
>and know how to build a musical interpretation of a whole work.

I must disagree with several things Mr. Buick states above. First, and
foremost, is the notion that "individual interpretive talent is a
relatively small part of orchestral playing." I think it is no accident
that the principal players in the major orchestras (in America as well as
Europe) are, by and large, fantastic musicians in their own rights. They
are not simply conduits of a particular conductor's style or phrasing. Any
orchestral musician who played a big solo without much individual
interpretation would not get very far. More important, I would not have
much interest in listening to him or her.

While it is quite true that conductors will certainly have some influence
over the style, shape, phrasing, tempo of a solo, they are not, especially
with the world's greatest orchestras, completely controlling the principal
player's every move. I think these musicians deserve more credit than that.

As for the idea that a conductor could spend ten minutes with the principal
clarinetists of the big five orchestras and get them to play a solo
identically, I think you probably mean get them to "phrase" a solo
identically. This would actually take quite a bit less than ten minutes
since, as you seem to recognize, these musicians are incredibly skilled at
ascertaining what a conductor is after and are flexible enough to achieve
this in a very short time. However, you seem to be omitting one thing:
There is no way, in ten minutes or two hours, that a conductor would be
able to get rid of these clarinetists' distinctive sounds. I really don't
think you can make Stanley Drucker sound like Larry Combs or Larry Combs
sound like Frank Cohen in ten minutes, no matter how identically they shape
a phrase. Nor, I might add, would you want to...Each of these great
artists, regardless of whether you prefer one player's tone or style to
another, brings an extraordinary amount of his own unique character, style
and musicianship to their playing which is precisely what has landed them
in the positions they are in.

Finally, if you know of any principal players in any major orchestra who do
not understand sonata form, please let me know...

Gary Ginstling
Los Angeles, CA

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