Friday, September 06, 2013

The Road to Hell

In Minnesota, it isn't paved with good intentions.

  • Reports indicate that the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) has purged their mailing lists so that patrons who've objected to the lockout don't receive certain emails. See Emily Hogstad and a commenter at Adaptistration.
  • The MOA is determined to stay the course even if it costs them the opening of their renovated hall, the Carnegie Hall dates, and their music director. (Link is to a Graydon Royce article in the Star Tribune.)
  • Alex Ross lets fly.
  • Robert Levine dismantles the MOA's financial review. (H/T Alex for the link.)
  • The MOA thinks musicians are interchangeable, and looks to an exciting future with new musicians. It's not true at all: wholesale replacement of orchestral musicians plus a new conductor would result in an entirely new sound and style of playing. An orchestra's characteristic sound and style are created by tribal knowledge, of sorts, of how individuals all work together when there are only a few annual personnel changes. SFS has had maybe four or five changes in personnel annually in the years I have been following them closely. (Greg Sandow commented a couple of years back about how exciting it would be to have the Philly musicians replaced by recent conservatory grads. Look, conservatory orchestras are great; current conservatory musicians play at a professional or near pro level. You can hear that in any conservatory in the world. But they're not the Philadelphia Orchestra - and Sandow should have known that.)


Henry Holland said...

Sandow should have known that

He's the dumbest man in the classical blogosphere, what do you expect?

I can attest to the changes an orchestra's sound goes through, having started going to Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts late in the brief Giulini era, went to a bunch of Previn era things because of the Brit-centric programming, actually had a subscription during the latter part of the Salonen years and have gone to some in the Dudamel era.

Previn's run was sad, the whole thing just didn't work out. I still remember Gerard Schwarz replacing Previn on short notice for a Gurrelieder (!!!) and the orchestra sounding transformed. By the time Mr. Previn left, the orchestra sounded very poor, totally dispirited. Wikipedia informs me that there was a 3 year gap between Previn leaving and Salonen becoming the full-time MD.

When Salonen came in full time, they adopted the lean, modernist approach that he was schooled in; it was only after suffering through some truly poor performances of the standard rep that he barely knew the scores of that the sound got a little fuller in the strings, the sound more blended. Dudamel has really emphasized a big romantic sound.

One thing that didn't change during the Salonen years in my experience is that the brass section consistently had trouble playing cleanly and in tune. On the other hand, the winds section has also been very good. Odd how that works!

As for the Minnesota Orchestra situation, I thought the way the New York City Opera board acted during the Gerard Mortier fiasco was bad, but that's nothing compared to the MOA board's attitude.

fireandair said...

I bet Sandow was the coolest guy in the student coffee house that day that comment hit the air.