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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000618.txt from 2003/06

Subj: Re: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 12:54:04 -0400

Usually I don't expect anyone to agree with anything I say, However, this
line of thought with recording and what not brings a few things to light
that I can say objectively without being too nasty.

Orchestras today are generally superior technically in terms of pro level
groups in terms of tone and intonation. These alone aren't the only
criteria that is used. Musical interest is really important as well. The
Chicago Symphony for example remains at the very top of the heap so to
speak. A recent broadcast of a Haydn symphony done live impressed me
beyond. I think alot of the weight of my thinking lies with conductors.
The music schools keep churning out gifted and fine players...but the
industry is taking over!

All of the major classical labels(DG. EMI and a few others are now under the
control of Universal Classics. ) This is not healthy for classical music
let alone any music. That being said, we are finally starting to see the
emergence as of late of smaller independent labels.

There is an awful lot of fine music that has not seen the light of day and
will probably never.....we also know the vagaries of music making and that
musicians really need to create there own inspiration as well as have a fire
under their butts once in a while. As to Toascanni I think your comment
really underlies how important conductors like this are to the development
of a musical interpretation. There is a fine interpretation of Beethoven 7
he did in the mid 30s with the New York Phil which is a testatament of
conducting skill.

As to vibrato and how does any of this relate. Well, like conductors
clarinet players are individuals....if we all played identically then we are
back to the Kirkegaard problem of flattening everything out to a point where
one is no longer able to recognize objectively the greatness of something.
Vibrato is far less of an annoyance to me than others. However, its a nice
day and the sun is shining so such arguements pale in light of how great
life truly is....

As to recording sessions. Yes I have done quite a few and saw and watched a
process of several recordings and their subsequent releases. I know an
awful lot of players(solo) and orchestral who wind up doing so many edits
and retakes on something its a miracle the record holds together. So, the
moral may love a given record but the labels are usually careful
not to mention it took 43 takes for 8 bars of music. Then we go to the
concert hall and hear a section muffed by a given group and say, hmmm
strange. Then, some labels have unnatural balances with the advent of
buttons up say on a give passage in 3rd horn say....not entirely indictative
of how we expect it to sound in a rehearsal or concert setting!

Now on to The Chicago symphony,( and I can't speak for them. ) They are
a great example of professionals working....they get probably 5 full
rehearsals if they are lucky on a large scale piece. If the Conductor is a
newbie that is probably a high figure. Is that enough.....????? I am not
sure. I think Gunter Wand came along in the late 80s and asked for 10 or so
rehearsals on Brahms 1st.....the difference? Well, the record he did is a
classic performance and worthy of any essential list of fine Brahms
interpretations. In Europe who knows how many rehearsals he could get...but
the result is his fame as a great interpreter as well as a conductor........

I know that technique and technique alone is a dead end for sure. Can the
Chicago symphony play Varese without a good conductor. I would say no. I
have worked long enough as a freelance and as a regular orchestral player
to have such biased views. Can a conductor ruin an excellent orchestra?
Yes!!! Original Message -----
From: "Karl Krelove" <>
Subject: RE: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet

> I don't necessarily disagree with some of what you've said below, David.
> post had specifically to do with an assertion that newer recordings
> generically suffer from a slap-dash approach (under-rehearsal) which
> explains their frequently dull and unmusical character, while older
> recordings were better, by implication of the original poster, because
> were rehearsed more thoroughly, thus allowing more interesting, musically
> inspired results. My question was based on my experience living on the US
> East Coast that orchestras here tended to record as a contractual exercise
> more 40-50 years ago and often prepared their performances less carefully
> than now, when many American orchestras are having trouble finding
> contracts, particularly to re-record the same pieces that have been done
> hundreds of times since the advent of recording.
> But since you addressed your reply specifically to me, a couple of more
> specific reactions to your points:
> >
> > I think as time goes on we are seeing an awful pile of rotten and poorly
> > done performances of the standard repetoire.
> This goes without saying - "as time goes" of course being open ended back
> the beginning of the recording industry. The longer we keep recording, the
> more junk will pile up.
> > To add to this appalling state
> > there are few great Coductors in the historical sense. Alot of
> > conductors I
> > have worked under basically have learned a recording and them
> > emulate it in
> > terms of tempi. This is a rather discorncerting way of learning how to
> > conduct. As a clarinetist who works regularly in an orchestra I can
> > 100Percent say the conductor is the essence of great orchestral
> > playing and
> > the key to inspiring players to hang it out there so to speak.
> I won't argue your view of the conductor's place in the performance
> although I'd quibble with the 100% figure. But I don't know what level of
> orchestra you play in, so I can't know if you're seeing the best
> or simply the parade of time beaters whom less well-known and financially
> well-off orchestras have to deal with most of the time. Moreover, the
> suspicion that some conductors learn their "interpretations" from someone
> else's recording isn't a new phenomenon. In fact Toscanini's often
> definition of tradition as "the last bad performance" (or something
> to that, probably in Italian) carries essentially the same complaint back
> before the beginning of recording. He was complaining about conductors
> mostly grounded in the 19th century.
> >
> > The other thing is what most people don't like to hear is the general
> > dumbing down of world through mass cultural brainwashing through TV and
> > general media crap. Few 16 year olds I know of like classical music,
> > instead we are breeding a real problem by making classical music into an
> > elitist bit of nonsense. In Europe this is not the case so much. An
> > incredible amount of orchestras of all levels are doing pretty decently
> > Europe in spite of the monopoly of big bands like the Berlin Phil and
> > have you.
> >
> This isn't by any means a recent development, either. When I was 16 (40
> years ago) I was one of maybe a half-dozen kids in my high school who
> willingly listened to anything without guitars in it. "Classical" music
> *always* been an elite interest in the US. I have no first-hand idea what
> the state of affairs is in Europe, but my understanding certainly agrees
> with yours.
> > As to recording schedules I think one just can't concoct inspiration in
> > studio with a copy of the version Herbert von Karajan did in 67 of a
> > Bruckner interpretation. some of this stuff is happening and
> > sadly I think
> > musicians today sometime aren't discriminating enough to hear or want to
> > hear the difference.
> >
> This is where we differ, I think. Not that I think you're wrong in saying
> that trying to knock off a copy of von Karajan's "interpretation" (or that
> of any other conductor's whose recordings have attracted enthusiasm over
> years) is an acceptable or useful way to record music. But I think there
> now and have always been enough unimaginative performers (conductors and
> others) to account for the bad or merely boring recordings that have
> been produced. I doubt if you've ever played for a conductor who openly
> admitted to copying anything from anyone.
> > A number of recent records I bought on CD are close to the junk pile or
> > resale list for me because I find they have no musical value whatever.
> > recent recording of Brahms with boulez is among the worst
> > ever done in music. In contemporary music as of late I have had some
> > trouble with his thinking as well...but then I am off topic.
> >
> I don't know the Boulez recording of Brahms you're referring to, nor do I
> have a clue as to what other recordings you're complaining about. I'm sure
> could come up with a list of my own, and it might or might not include
> of yours. When you start to characterize something as subjective as
> performance as "the worst...ever done" I think you've launched into an
> of hyperbole that will only lead down a very dark and endless road.
> Thanks for reading.
> Karl Krelove
> > From: "Karl Krelove" <>To:
> > Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 4:56 AM
> > Subject: RE: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet
> >
> >
> > > > ... I will
> > > > say too that records are really done in a hurry and with far less
> > for
> > > > rehearsal. This transates into more of the older records being more
> > > > musical......when you can go and do extra rehearsal and extra
> > > > takes you have
> > > > something! .
> > > >
> > > For American orchestras in the 1950's through maybe the '80's
> > contractual
> > > recording guarantees led to sessions in which standard repertory was
> > > sometimes put out on the music stands and recorded with no rehearsal
> > all
> > > just to fill commitments. But my impression is that, at least
> > here in the
> > > US, recording is for a number of economic reasons a much more limited,
> > even
> > > endangered activity and orchestras, when they can record at all, are
> > > generally recording material they've rehearsed, honed and
> > refined through
> > a
> > > regular concert series or even a tour.
> > >
> > > Do I have a distorted or flat-out incorrect view of the current state
> > > symphonic recording?
> > >
> > > Karl Krelove
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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