Greatest Orchestrators.....

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parla wrote:With question

parla wrote:

With question mark: Sibelius, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov...We'll see...

I was thinking of mentioning Rachmaninov.......particularly for the amazing orchestration of the Symphonic Dances. There are lots of nice touches in the more famous concertos (though nothing that hasn't been done before), but I think the dances are something else.

Sibelius - has to be in the running. He never sounds like anyone else, and a large part of that is his orchestration.

Beethoven?

I sense in places that we're talking about persona or style instead of orchestration. Isn't orchestration a means to an end? By the way, no one mentioned Beethoven so I assume he wasn't great at orchestrating.

goofyfoot

goofyfoot wrote:

goofyfoot wrote:

I sense in places that we're talking about persona or style instead of orchestration....

Where? Can you explain?

As for Beethoven, my feeling

As for Beethoven, my feeling is that he was a very good classical orchestrator. But not great. I don't think he was in the same league as Mozart, for instance.

Style

The best that I can explain here Jane is that certain identifiable traits in orchestration might stand out as a composers signature but I'm not convinced that this characterization is necessarily the identifiable mark of great orchestrating. My modest understanding of great or good orchestration is that it maximizes dividends where it pertains to the performance of the work. That a great symphony without a noticeable layer of orchestrating on top but whether inconspicuously woven into the fabric of the work so that it isn't even noticeable could be the highest level of orchestrating. And I'm not saying that I'm right, but that this view of orchestration as being a means to an end is certainly a possibility in many respects.

goofyfoot

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

 

 

Where to start with Rameau - as an example of his great orchestration? (I don't think I can manage a whole opera.........maybe something a little briefer, to begin with.)

 

No you don't need to go trough a whole opera. I made that mistake once (Zoroastre) following the libretto and such and it is not my thing. Altough any of the suites extracted from the operas, particularly the ouvertures. But I'm sure you know a few of them! Compared to the richness of the French ensembles,  the typical Italian strings with continuo and one or two soloists instruments (mostly a violin) is just so dull and poor.

Since the French didn't have a basic opposition of ensemble and soloists they were left with a whole ensemble and their individual instruments. Compare a typical Vivaldi concerto with any of Rameau's suites, with winds, percussion and brass. It is particularly striking the use of the strings, where you get the cellos or violas much more freely used, and often carrying the music, as the Italians systematically used first violins for. In doing so the timbric possibilities of just the strings get multiplied. Listen for example to Zoroastre or Castor et Polux ouverture or the Chaconne from Les Indes Galantes.

But even in his keyboard music there are some glories in the use of harmonies that have an almost oniric (and therefore visual) quality: his sarabande from the Suite in A from the Nouvelles Suites could almost pass as early Debussy, if played on the piano.

Or maybe I'm just dreaming the whole thing up....

camaron wrote:

camaron wrote:

 

 

 

No you don't need to go trough a whole opera.

Or maybe I'm just dreaming the whole thing up....

 

By they way: constant flow of music with no clear divisions of recitatives and arias, leitmotivs across the opera, lush and imaginative orchestration, crazy and mythological libretos.... Rameau well before wagner!

goofyfoot wrote:

goofyfoot wrote:

The best that I can explain here Jane is that certain identifiable traits in orchestration might stand out as a composers signature but I'm not convinced that this characterization is necessarily the identifiable mark of great orchestrating. My modest understanding of great or good orchestration is that it maximizes dividends where it pertains to the performance of the work. That a great symphony without a noticeable layer of orchestrating on top but whether inconspicuously woven into the fabric of the work so that it isn't even noticeable could be the highest level of orchestrating. And I'm not saying that I'm right, but that this view of orchestration as being a means to an end is certainly a possibility in many respects.

I'll have to think about this, goofyfoot..........Right now, I'm not even sure I know what I mean by "good orchestration" any more......

It's Neither Black Nor White

You bring up some good questions Jane and I consider it a plus that the answers are never really absolute.

goofyfoot

Rameau the orchestrator.

Jane, there is a brilliant SACD (it exists also as CD), on Archiv, called "Rameau: Une Symphonie Imaginaire" with Les Musiciens du Louvre under Minkowski. It is based on the composers Ballets and Opera most eloquent pieces and they are performed with the utmost gusto, refinement and excitement, in a most impressive recording and production. I trust it can give you a good picture of Rameau's imaginative and creative orchestration for his time.

Parla

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