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In Reply to: RE: OK... posted by docw on June 20, 2012 at 13:50:17
NHK, NDR Sinfonieorchester, Philly, Berlin, and Royal Concertgebouw
NHK stands out like Cleveland once did back in the 1960s through the 1980s.........
NDR is another sleeper...... The orchestra might have the best oboist right now (Kalev Kuljus)....... The strings take a back seat to nobody. The winds are almost comparable to NHK.
Christoph von Dohnanyi has always done well with the Brahms One..... The linked performance is scary similar to his Cleveland performance, roughly 25 years ago.
so we should search for recordings by:
NHK with Dutoit and Ashkenazy
NDR with Wand and Dohnanyi (whom you often criticize) and now w the new Dirigent
Philly (are the management and other problems resolving?) w Dutoit
Berlin Phil w ? Rattle? Abbado?
Amsterdam w Jansons
Where is Bavarian Rundfunk?
What will Chicago do w Muti? I love much of Muti's work.
Or Boston w Levine before he got too sick?
How is NY w Gilbert (was w Cleveland and NDR in past)?
“so we should search for recordings by:
NHK with Dutoit and Ashkenazy”
You’d have to search the Japanese sites...... NHK recordings are not readily available.......
Anything after the year 2000 would be a good bet, if you can sample the music, and be sure the conductors’ interpretations are to your liking. I generally dig into videos, not just YouTube, but the Japanese video sites as well. (This orchestra was not nearly as good prior to 1995. A lot of performances from before 1995 on YouTube..... Including another Brahms Three, linked below. I really don’t know how this orchestra somehow raised its standards to ionospheric levels, aside from maybe Dutoit having an influence. But he was never full time there like he was with Montreal. Montreal has fallen greatly since his departure.)
There is a great performance of Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with Vlad Ashkenazy on YT...... IMO maybe the most underrated conductor, ever. This performance shows off the chops of the NHK.
The problem with NHK with the video sites is their copyright policies are so strict, these performances are gone before we know it. I’d recommend downloading for your personal use, and for your personal use only.
I was fortunate to download the Mahler Five with Semyon Byckhov, which was a performance for the ages. But I missed out on a whole lot, including maybe the best Rach 2 I’ve experienced outside of the Cleveland/Shipway performance. (The Andre Previn performance, which is still accessible, is too “lethargic” for my tastes.)
“NDR with Wand and Dohnanyi (whom you often criticize) and now w the new Dirigent “
Dohnanyi has always done very well with the Brahms Symphonies, and is good with Bruckner..... I do have concerns with the new conductor, Thomas Hengelbrock, however...... I don’t care much for his style- Too “Dudamel-ish” for my tastes...... But the jury will be out.
Gunter Wand was one of the all-time greats, I like his Bruckner too. People tell me his Schumann is top drawer. But I think the NDR wasn’t as good at the time.
“Philly (are the management and other problems resolving?) w Dutoit”
I’m aware of the fiscal crisis with this orchestra...... I just think it has the best playing of the American orchestras, as of right now. I like the winds better than Cleveland, and the brass better than Chicago. Cleveland might have an edge in intonation in the strings, but Philly has an edge with virtuosic cohesiveness. Boston also seems to have improved in recent time.
“Berlin Phil w ? Rattle? Abbado?”
Rattle is kind of like Lorin Maazel when he directed Cleveland........ The orchestra’s standards seem to surface when guest conductors conduct it. I’d recommend the “Digital Concert Hall” subscriptions, if you can swing the funds.
Prior to experiencing NHK’s Hiroaki Kanda, who I’d put in the Marcellus/Lifschey/Mack echelon of wind players, I thought Berlin’s Emmanual Parud was the premiere orchestral flutist.
Abbado was a great combination with Berlin. His Mahler was dynamite. (He was my fave with Chicago as well.)
“Amsterdam w Jansons”
I’m not a big Jansons fan...... (His performances often come off as “stiff” to me.) Like NHK, the RCO seems to be “conductor proof”..... My only concern with the Concertgebouw is it doesn’t quite have the chops of the other bands, but its cohesiveness is unbreakable. This is a great orchestra for Schumann or Brahms.
I liked this orchestra when Bernard Haitink conducted it..........
In contrast to some other bands, I’d say Concertgebouw has been the most consistent over the decades....... Whether it’s the 1960s, 1990s, or today, a good choice.
“Where is Bavarian Rundfunk?”
Kind of felt funny leaving this band off the list, but............
Like NHK, the VPO rotates a lot of musicians from performance to performance. The problem is unlike NHK, its “B” and “C” players are a big dropoff relative to its “A” players. A primary reason why I didn’t put this orchestra in my top five. But definitely top ten. String intonation and trumpets were never strong points with this band. But the winds seems stronger than I recall in the past. Its cohesiveness is the strong point. Maybe the best in that regard.
“What will Chicago do w Muti? I love much of Muti's work.”
If Chicago can improve under Muti like Philly did, this orchestra might eventually crack my top five....... I always had the impression this orchestra had great players, but never play well together. Kind of Concertgebouw or VPO in reverse, if you will. (The NYPO has had the problem even worse.) I never liked the playing style of the winds and brass, however. So I might have a bias against this orchestra. (They just play the notes instead of “phrase”.) Someone recently joked with me, after attending a CSO concert, that its trombone section invented “loudness wars”......... The strings IMO have also been a weakness post-Reiner.
“Or Boston w Levine before he got too sick?”
Oh, no, he’s sick?? I mentioned Boston above...... I thought it was now the second best band in America. (I’d put Cleveland at third.)
How is NY w Gilbert (was w Cleveland and NDR in past)?
I like Gilbert....... The NYPO always had top players, but are more individual soloists than team players. It will be interesting if Gilbert can provide a long term solution. This orchestra needs a MD to have a long tenure, and maybe mend its flaws. I do think the acoustics at Avery Fischer Hall have held this band back.
Bavarian Radio and Munich Opera band is top drawer at the time that Rafael Kubelik conducted and also saw occasional appearances by reclusive Carlos Kleiber.
In our family home, we have scads of mint DGG tulip LP records from them, and in an Financial Times article (I believe) which at one time was linked at the Cleveland Orchestra website, they were regarded in the top 10, along with the Metropolitan Opera Orch under Levine (sick).
In your opinion, how are the English bands?
Used to be LSO, Philharmonia, London Phil, Royal Phil and others were highly regarded. I was listening to a Barenboim/Philharmonia Mozart PC CD in the car today and was struck by the excellence in phrasing and playing.
I haven't heard of lot of the London orchestras recently........ Trumpets were always a strong point, and a clear if not spectacular winds...... I think the string playing is generally decent but I think the LSO has declined there over the past decade. The City of Birmingham Symphony is also a nice band, but haven't heard enough recently to voice specifics.
A performance of Brahms' Double Concerto, final two movements were just put on line...... The opening movement was on line in April........
The cello part performed by Ryoichi Fujimori, NHK's principal cellist.
The performance was sublime in the first movement..... The two soloists (duet?) were a little short on the phrasing at the start of the final movement but improved later on, and the accompaniment in the final movement was superlative.
The conductor was Toshiaki Umeda, who I've never seen before..... But as I said, the NHK Symphony is "conductor proof"....... It performs at a very high level, regardless of who conducts it. (Who knows, Umeda might be a fine conductor, I'd have to see him conduct other works before making any judgments.)
One of the "B" players was on flute, Kanda wasn't there....... The bassoons didn't have the "A" players either. Not much to complain about how they performed.
These 2 ratings show Bavarian Radio (Bayerischen Rundfunk) as 6 in the world. Cleveland is 7. LSO is 4, but IMHO, things move around a bit, too.
Example, I heard LA Phil (during Salonen's tenure) at Disney twice for children's concerts, and they weren't near 8, as that 2008 rating states. Younger conductors were working, but orchestra was not world class. Nowhere near.
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