Post by Sacqueboutier Post by Michael Schaffer Post by Sacqueboutier Post by Michael Schaffer Post by Sacqueboutier Post by Raymond Hall
Via CD of course. One of the very best bargains (ever) is the Brilliant
Classics nice little cap box, containing 9 CDs of Kempe's orchestral
Richard Strauss, with the Dresden orchestra. I am already in possession
of EMI's Vol II and Vol III of the same, but minus the Volume I, so the
above box containing all the works that were in the three volumes, has
put matters straight.
Listened last night to Till Eulenspiegel and Don Juan, that were on one
of the CDs in Vol I. Absolutely stunning, and far better than the late
50s effort Kempe made with the Berlin PO, especially with regard to
Till. In fact, almost as good as it gets from my experience, and proof
to me that Till was at the apex of Strauss's canon, before he started
to slide down with clearly inferior works such as the Alpine (good as
it is though). What is also so stunning, and it comes across so well,
is the Dresden brass. Magnificent, and if Chicago is famed for its
brass, then Dresden must run them very close, or even excel. Kempe
however, keeps the brass section under control, as distinct from
Jochum, who lets them go ape in his Bruckner 5th for EMI.
LOL. Ray, that is a perfect description of both the Strauss and the
Bruckner! I love both without
As for Dresden's brass, I find the tone quality a bit unrefined and not
in the same league as
the CSO (or just about any other American orchestra for that matter).
Unrefined? Apparently you never heard Peter Damm either as soloist
(also in this set) or as principal (he played in most of the Strauss
recordings, although the SD has 3 principals). I think there were few
horn players who ever played more refined and musical. And the brass
section in general lives up to the standard he set (in terms of
orchestral brass playing).
I will never understand why you Americans think that brass playing
always has to be as loud and blaring as possible (see CSO). Do you
think that is refined?
As can be heard in some of the Jochum recordings (but also in Kempe's
Strauss recordings, but only in the places where it belongs), the SD
brass can also inflict structural damage. That they don't try to do so
at every possible opportunity is a *musical* choice. The judicious
application of those dynamic possibilities is what I would call
I would easier understand if somebody found the brass playing in
Kempe's set a little *too* refined because of the constant color
variation by different degrees of vibrato.
I've heard Peter Damm plenty through recordings. I find him musical, but
his vibrato and his Bb horn make him sound a bit like baritone to my ears.
Just check the opening bars of the Strauss 1st. Very exciting, but rather
BTW, when I wrote unrfined, I was referring mostly to the cylindrical brass...
trumpets and trombone. The sounds they make can be awfully abrasive and
strident. Doesn't mean I don't like it at times. Just in comparison
to the CSO,
I don't think it's in the same league.
BTW also, I don't think I would care much for Clevenger's sound in the Straus
concerti either. My benchmarks here are Bloom, Brain, and Seifert.
I can see better now what you meant. Part of that brightness in forte
is caused by the recordings which are a little on the glassy side, but
part is also the particular tonal style. The sharp attacks you can
sometimes hear are more to project a "brassy" sound (someone called it
"craggy", I find that particularly well put) without having to play too
loud and thereby drowning all the other sections in the orchestra (not
completely unlike the brassiness heard on period instruments, although
the general playing style is very different, obviously).
That is what I find so unpleasant (and unstylish and unmusical) about
the "CSO style". Technically very good, but I would definitely not call
them anything like refined. But it does seem to make a lot of people
happy, and I like it in some repertoire too. Although I like the brass
sound of some American orchestras much better, in particular the NYP
and the horns of the LAP.
By refined, I refer to their general technique of playing. They have
art of breathing such that with very little effort, they can produce a
I don't necessarily like it when they use this to drown out the rest of the
orchestra, but that's another story.
I've heard the trombone section many times in master classes, and they are
pretty much the epitome of the art of trombone technique. That doesn't mean
I always like the result in orchestral performance. It becomes a case
of the tail
wagging the dog. Still, for the sheer art of brass playing, I think
the CSO takes
I've used Barenboim's Bruckner cycle to illustrate this before. I'll listen to
Barenboim/CSO when I want to hear an amazing brass section plying their trade.
When I want to hear Bruckner, I'll choose Jochum/Dresden. :-)
I see. Thanks for explaining that. I misunderstood what you meant by
"refined". There is no doubt that they are technically extremely
accomplished, but I personally just don't like the sound very much. I
think they often sound bleak and even colorless, like a b&w photography
with enhanced contrast. But obviously, some ears just love that! I have
to admit that I used to, too, but I do so less and less. When I
relistened to Mahler 3 with CSO/Solti recently, I thought, impressive
playing, but why did I ever like that? I miss the warmness, depth of
tone, the "inner glow" that brass instruments can have, almost
completely from their sound. Interestingly, Jay Friedman has an article
on his website in which he writes that his ideal is the traditional
German trombone sound (surprising, but it's true) and there is a sense
of regret in the article that many now expect a brass section to be an
artillery post rather than a sections of instruments in the orchestra.
I do like the traditional style of Russian playing which is pretty
forced too though, so I am contradciting myself to a certain degree
But all that is a matter of taste, obviously. As you may have guessed,
my ideal in brass sound is more or less embodied by the SD although I
am aware that they are often technically less precise. That is not
necessarily a lack of technique though. It is more that in that
orchestra, people listen to each other very flexibly and feel their way
through the music together rather than "executing" it without looking
left and right. That sometimes results in less than perfect ensemble,
but it can also yield much more musical results. I particularly like
the way each note is carefully sounded rather than simply projected,
although they can be enormously loud too.
The brass playing in Berlin that I have grown up hearing is decidely
more "direct" and "compact", but I have always liked the Dresden style
more, maybe because the grass is always greener elsewhere.
The most "refined" sound in the way I understood the word before your
clarification I would still say is the Vienna sound though. That is
just the way real "classical" brass sounds.
Post by Sacqueboutier Post by Michael Schaffer
I think one could say that the style of brass playing in American and
British orchestras, while still distinct, leans in the same direction.
I once got attacked very massively in an online forum (by American CSO
fanatics, of course) for saying that the best brass playing I have ever
heard from that stylistic area was the Philharmonia brass, especially
when John Wallace was principal trumpet. Now *that* was refined brass
playing, virtuoso and extrovert but extremely musical and sonorous with
a lot of nuances. I still remember a Mahler 5 with Wallace playing the
first trumpet with the most incredible range of colors and dynamic and
Is this the Sinopoli recording? I have that and agree, it's great. I rank it
equal to Abbado/CSO. :-) Abbado is a bit more reserved interpretively,
Sinopoli is more neurotic.
I was referring to a live concert with the Philharmonia conducted by
Sinopoli, but what you hear on that recording (made a short time before
that concert) is basically the same. That concert really was enormously
I don't know what makes the difference, but I feel that somehow British
brass players have better, deeper sound while still being quite
Post by Sacqueboutier Post by Michael Schaffer
I have never heard Clevenger's recording of the first Strauss
recording. Did he also record the second? I do like his Haydn
recordings very much, they are among my favorites. His Mozart album is
also very good, but here I think other soloists have displayed more
musical flexibility, including Damm although his vibrato here is quite
ample in places too and may not please all ears.
I've never heard Clevenger in the Strauss Concerto. I wrote "I don't think
I would care much for [it]". Knowing his general style of playing, I'm sure I
would prefer Bloom, Brain, and Hauptmann.
Post by Michael Schaffer
Speaking of vibrato, have you ever heard Buyanovsky's recording of the
first Strauss concerto (with Mravinsky)?
Not heard this.
Post by Michael Schaffer
I haven't heard the recording Seifert did with Mehta, but I was in the
concerts when they recorded it (not live, but during the same work
phase), plus the Alpensinfonie after the intermission with which the
concerto then shared a disc. Seifert played 5th horn in the symphony.
I have always admired Seifert as a great horn player - I never heard
him booboo once in many, many BP concerts I heard -, but I have never
been overwhelmed by him musically, stylish and tasteful as he played. I
actually liked the playing style of Hauptmann, the other principal
during the Karajan era, better. It can be heard in a recording of the
I was completely mixed up. I meant Norbert Hauptmann in the Strauss 2nd.
I have a colleague who has heard a recording conducted by Tennstedt that
he swears by. I think the soloist was Seifert. This guy is principal
in the band
and studied in Salzburg (with Seifert or Hauptmann?) for a year.
If you like the dark and round tone Hauptmann produces, you may also
want to check out Radovan Vlatkovic' recording. He is a very musical
player with a dark, full tone. A horn player from former Yugoslavia, he
used to be principal of the RSO (now DSO) Berlin, now he is a professor
somewhere (maybe even in Salzburg).
BTW, there is also a recording of the concertos with principals of the
WP playing on the Vienna F horn. I don't think these are the musically
most interesting recordings of these pieces, but the sound of the horn
is great. There is also an Orfeo release of a historic recording of the
2nd concerto with Gottfried von Freiberg, the soloist of the premiere,
but I haven't heard it.
Post by Sacqueboutier