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Thread: How good are professional violin soloists versus professional orchestra members?

  1. #46
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    The two positions Associate principal and 2nd chair are indeed different.
    the Associate principal will almost always play principal on some piece of the program [unless the program consists of just one work - ie - Mahler #8, etc..] The associate principal will cover for the principal if the/she is on leave, on vacation, out for medical, etc....the associate principal will play 3rd or utility if a larger section is called for.
    the 2nd chair plays 2nd to whichever of the principals is playing...
    different positions.
    Yes, I understand the distinction. I think Forteza is still technically the no. 3 clarinet player. Though the no. 1 chair was vacant for a long time after the retirement of Stanley Drucker, in concerts I attended during that period, Forteza always played 2nd clarinet throughout, never 1st. Now he is the acting no. 2 clarinet player as "Acting Associate Principal" since the no. 2 chair is vacant, but if someone else is eventually appointed permanent Associate Principal (which would be a mistake in my opinion), Forteza would go back down to no. 3.

    Edit: And speaking of the NY Philharmonic, principal cellist Carter Brey is undoubtedly one of the world's best and had an established career as a soloist before deciding to take the orchestra position. (Rumor has it his performance in the auditions was well beyond that of the other candidates.)
    Last edited by fluteman; Dec-31-2019 at 14:53.

  2. #47
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    Carter Brey appeared with one of my orchestras many years back, not too long before he won the NYPO position...he played a Haydn Concerto, really nailed it....then, for each concert, he joined the cello section, sat in the back, for the 2nd half, which was Sibelius Sym #2!! It's so awesome to put a really heavy hitter in the back of the section!!

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  4. #48
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    I don't believe soloists play better than orchestra violinists.

    There are so many excellent violinists presently that orchestra take incredible virtuosi just to play a tremolo from time to time as a second violin. I don't know how these violinists cope with that. They were the absolute over-talented students among many hundreds, they sacrificed everything to get that level, and among these only a handful enter an orchestra to play dead easy scores and earn a living from music.

    Learn the bassoon, the oboe, the tuba, the harp. DO NOT learn the violin, the piano, the flute, the clarinet, the trumpet.

    Sure, soloist is a different way of life. Will your children recognize you next time you're home? Will you retire before your plane crashes? Is it better to keep your wristwatch at Universal Time?

    Among the criteria to be a successful soloist, I'd add: be cute. Yes, in classical music too. Or: marry a conductor, it helps a lot.

    ==========

    Someone asked which violinist can play concertos. At present violin level, about all concerti are easy. Difficult scores are rather the Ysaÿe sonatas, some pieces by Paganini, Wieniawski, Sarasate, Ernst (notably the Erlkönig)... all written by violinists.

    Many soloists have never dared to play these in public. No, I won't cite anybody. Search by yourself: the best known violinists are not necessarily the best known ones.

    An other cruel reality is that violinists get old as quickly as soccer players do. Above 40, they can bring a better interpretation, but the technique weakens. Oistrakh, Kremer were exceptions. Older soloists revert to nice but easier pieces. Alas, artists get famous late.

    So it happens often that many violinists in an orchestra play much better than the invited soloist. This must not be easy.

    ==========

    One example among hundreds, just because I saw the record recently: first violin section of the Staatsorchester Stuttgart
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Am8xeIWjkg&t=35
    Many soloists avoid to play that piece in public.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post
    Among the criteria to be a successful soloist, I'd add: be cute. Yes, in classical music too. Or: marry a conductor, it helps a lot.
    It certainly didn't use to be this way, almost all soloists of the past are quite ugly.

    I think they are much better, Oistrakh, Perlman, Heifetz, are on a completely different level.

  6. #50
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    I believe present violinists are as good as or better than the past ones. Above all, there are many more of them now, which hampers building a legend.

    Don't forget the age when comparing.

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