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Thread: Orchestration

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    Senior Member HumphreyAppleby's Avatar
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    Default Orchestration

    Which composer's orchestrations add the most to the drama, are the most effective, or are just the most beautiful to your ear? And which operas in particular? Why?

    For me, of course, Puccini is number one. Certainly his most complex orchestral work is in Turandot, but my favorite of his is Il tabarro. The prelude is incredibly beautiful and mournful, and show just how much of a master he was with the orchestra. All throughout the work, though, he creates beautiful textures, inflections, and colors that create a world that pulls you in, despite its harshness and darkness. The precise notation of the tugboats and such is an interesting touch, as is the out of tune organ grinder. One of the scenes that really gets me is the bitonal scoring of the distant trumpet after he's been shot down in the scene below. The seething anger and pain conveyed in the orchestra contrasted with the quotidian trumpet call is just unbearably intense.

    Here's an example of the beautiful orchestration, in a scene where Michele tries to get Giorgetta to love him again, after they drifted apart when their son died: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ydn4SZoLzw

    Another opera with great orchestration is Charpentier's Louise. It's consistently lovely, atmospheric, and rich.

    Of course Wagner's operas are great in this regard, as are Verdi's late works. I also think that Rossini, though not on par with the others, was a great and vivacious orchestrator. Massenet is as lovely as you can get, especially Thais.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Default Sibelius

    Check out my post concerning the Sibelious Third Symphony

    Jean Sibelius

    Edit: Sorry-the title was "Orchestration". I thought the thread covered all orchestrations.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Nov-13-2013 at 07:15.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Listen to Ravel's piano suite Le tombeau de Couperin. Now listen to his orchestration of the same piece.

    Now pick your jaw up off the floor.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    This is an opera thread friends
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    This is an opera thread friends
    The plural of "opus" is "opera." That kind of opens the gates, eh?


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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Oh. Whoops!


    Wagner, then.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Richard Strauss reckoned if you wanted to study orchestration to opera then go to Bizet's Carmen rather than Wagner.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    Carmen is an incredibly colorful, vivid and innovative score, particularly for its time. Wagner draws on a much broader palette than anyone before him, particularly with the huge band and extra instruments in the Ring. The beginning of Salome! In fact Strauss in general. That man could drive an orchestra and informed all late romantic (and on) orchestration. Britten is a good orchestrator and word painter too - Peter Grimes and Billy Budd have wonderfully effective orchestral writing throughout (the Sea Interludes!)

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    Wagner, Strauss and other German fellows are obviously advanced, competent and highly skillful in this regard, but I can't say I'm entirely in awe for them. The rich often becomes heavy-handed and overloaded.

    I very much like Gounod's writing for orchestra. It's colourful but never heavy and overblown, on the contrary. And speaking of French composers, there's Berlioz too, master of the craft. And Tchaikovsky, who learned so much from them.

    Many claim that Italians before late Verdi didn't do any good, but there are some examples that prove otherwise. I was always greatly impressed by that fragment of Norma when she proclaims war after hitting the gong. <BRASS FART> GUERRA <BRASS FART> STRAAAGE <BRASS FART> STEEERMINIO! That's pretty proficient usage of orchestra for me, though obviously some might say that it's not good because Bellini should have written 20-minutes of instrumental interlude entitled "Adalgisa journey through haunted Gallic forest" with sound effects depicting stuff.

    For more modern stuff, my choice is King Roger of Szymanowski. When he was younger he learned from Strauss and Wagner, but later on understood that this way of orchestral writing has it's faults and developed more subtle way of his own (after yet another period of learning from other great composers, this time impressionists). In King Roger it was already mastered.
    Last edited by Aramis; Nov-13-2013 at 13:15.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post

    though obviously some might say that it's not good because Bellini should have written 20-minutes of instrumental interlude entitled "Adalgisa journey through haunted Gallic forest" with sound effects depicting stuff.
    The operatic equivalent of free-form jazz exploration.
    This space for rent.

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    Berg's Wozzeck and Lulu have excellent orchestration, if a bit thick in spots. Schoenberg's Moses und Aron uses the flexatone without sounding silly, and that's quite an accomplishment. And of course we can't forget to mention Ravel for L'enfant et les sortileges.

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    Orchestration means different things to different composers.

    When the action is in the pit, at the same level of prominence, or even higher sometimes, than the voices, some good examples have been shared already. Personally, I deeply admire Erich Wolfgang Korngold mastery of the trade.

    On the other hand, as mentioned by Aramis, for composers like Vincenzo Bellini, the essence of the drama was in the voices, to be transmited by the singers: il dramma per musica deve far piangere, inorridire, morire... cantando. Of course, he was in any case able to write some almost impossibly beautiful intrumental music, such as the prelude in B minor to the Second Act of Norma, but the orchestration of his operas was oriented to support, to complement, the singing. According to the Italian tradition, but also respecting his own individuality as a composer, his musica filosofica.

    On terms of complexity, few things in the field of Opera, or indeed in any other field of music, can compete with the spectaculer "Grand concert d’oiseaux" in Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise.

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    Senior Member HumphreyAppleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Wagner, Strauss and other German fellows are obviously advanced, competent and highly skillful in this regard, but I can't say I'm entirely in awe for them. The rich often becomes heavy-handed and overloaded.

    I very much like Gounod's writing for orchestra. It's colourful but never heavy and overblown, on the contrary. And speaking of French composers, there's Berlioz too, master of the craft.
    Yes, Wagner's orchestrations vary. Tristan is glorious, but parts of the ring just make me laugh- they're so brassy. It makes me think of a marching band, which invariably makes me think of Woody Allen playing the cello in a marching band. By this point I've completely lost track of what's happening. I can't make it through Ride of the Valkyries without giggling.

    And thank you! for reminding me of Berlioz. Brilliant. Benvenuto Cellini is fantastic- the little prelude before Sur les monts le plus sauvages is one of my favorite moments.

    Personally, I deeply admire Erich Wolfgang Korngold mastery of the trade.
    Oh yes, he's fantastic. I greatly prefer his operas to those of Strauss.

    And of course Pelleas et Melisande has beautiful orchestration, which Puccini adored, but he thought the piece failed as opera.
    Last edited by HumphreyAppleby; Nov-13-2013 at 18:13.

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpeggio View Post
    Check out my post concerning the Sibelious Third Symphony

    Jean Sibelius

    Edit: Sorry-the title was "Orchestration". I thought the thread covered all orchestrations.
    No need to apologise - easily done. Stick around & you might become a fan!
    Ann

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Question What make's you think I dislike opera?

    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    No need to apologise - easily done. Stick around & you might become a fan!
    What make's you think I dislike opera?
    Last edited by arpeggio; Nov-14-2013 at 00:57. Reason: grammer
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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