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Thread: Greatest Orchestrator of all time?

  1. #31
    Senior Member laurie's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone has mentioned Manuel de Falla .... his beautiful & evocative Nights in the Gardens of Spain as "Exhibit A"!

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Although there are many fine living orchestrators that maintain these high standards I can't think of any that have improved on what was achieved in the earlier part of the 20th century.
    Nope. Try Lachenmann, Ruders, Norgard, Schwantner, Tsontakis, Dutilleux, Boulez, Saariaho, Tuur.

    Those are ones I can list off the top that have pushed orchestration along quite a bit since mid-20th Century. There are more if I dig into my library. But my point was that a number of TC folks really have not gotten into truly contemporary literature.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, both Strausses, Wagner, Varese, Shostakovich, Boulez, Henze among others.
    "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying..." Peter Sinfield

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    I'm still intrested in the whys as to how people think certain composers orchestrate well, however if you just want to name your personal opinions regardless continue on.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Stravinsky’s use of polytonality between voices while achieving an overall effect on the whole is amazing. For me he stands out from the others.
    "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying..." Peter Sinfield

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  9. #36
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Stravinsky’s use of polytonality between voices while achieving an overall effect on the whole is amazing. For me he stands out from the others.
    Agree. Stravinsky had a knack, probably most apparent in his works for a limited number of voices and timbres.


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  11. #37
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Nope. Try Lachenmann, Ruders, Norgard, Schwantner, Tsontakis, Dutilleux, Boulez, Saariaho, Tuur.

    Those are ones I can list off the top that have pushed orchestration along quite a bit since mid-20th Century. There are more if I dig into my library. But my point was that a number of TC folks really have not gotten into truly contemporary literature.
    Well what I've heard from Lachenmann sounds maybe too far removed from the aesthetic aims of the composers I listed to make a reasonable comparison. I certainly have been impressed by the orchestration of Dutilleux, Saariaho and Tuur. One area I agree orchestration has been pushed along is the integration of electronics. Aside from that are there other ways you feel these composers have pushed forward orchestration?

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    Senior Member T Son of Ander's Avatar
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    There are some film composers who are excellent orchestrators. Being a huge Star Trek fan, I am most familiar with the composers of that franchise: Dennis McCarthy, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Jay Chattaway, and others. Some have mentioned electronics, which some of those composers have used to great effect. But they were also fantastic with their use of orchestral instruments as well. I would also add John Williams, however, someone in another thread said that people helped him with orchestration. Not sure if that is true or if it apllies to other film composers, as well. If so, I guess that invalidates this whole post.
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Nope. Try Lachenmann, Ruders, Norgard, Schwantner, Tsontakis, Dutilleux, Boulez, Saariaho, Tuur.

    Those are ones I can list off the top that have pushed orchestration along quite a bit since mid-20th Century. There are more if I dig into my library. But my point was that a number of TC folks really have not gotten into truly contemporary literature.
    A list of names is fine, but unlike those names listed where most people have heard examples of their music and will have an idea, this will be less evident for the names you are listing.

    Perhaps an explanation of how the above composers have pushed orchestration along; how they have developed it?
    Personally I don't think Boulez is a particularly notable orchestral writer at all. But I'm willing to listen to an argument that will contradict my view.

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    Debussy is mentioned quite a lot throughout this thread (indeed I mentioned him myself). While his orchestral textures are superb, he doesn't demonstrate as much variety as some others. He had an over-reliance on certain textures and seemed to use them at similar dramatic points in his music. His use of the oboe/cor anglais and flute is very similar through his works and because he tended to overuse both the descending chromatic scale and snippets of a descending/ascending whole-tone scale (e.g. in 1888's La damoiselle élue and 1894's Prélude à l'après-midi..) and also used similar or near-identical ways of orchestrating, the pieces can sound very similar. A more generous approach would be to could call it a 'personal style'.

    I particularly dislike his orchestration of Satie's Gymnopédies 1 & 3. He didn't, in my opinion, capture the essence of them, but turns them into a Debussy work.
    Last edited by eugeneonagain; Nov-13-2017 at 15:27.

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eugeneonagain View Post
    A list of names is fine, but unlike those names listed where most people have heard examples of their music and will have an idea, this will be less evident for the names you are listing.

    Perhaps an explanation of how the above composers have pushed orchestration along; how they have developed it?
    I can point to specific places in specific pieces for people to hear, but without scores to explain all the details I can only write in general terms as to what makes it "tick".

    Quote Originally Posted by eugeneonagain View Post
    Debussy is mentioned quite a lot throughout this thread (indeed I mentioned him myself). While his orchestral textures are superb, he doesn't demonstrate as much variety as some others.
    I know what you mean, but I just studied his "Three Nocturnes" this morning and it's filled with all kinds of detail that rarely gets "heard". The piece does not knock you out with orchestration prowess but a fine orchestrator is obvious at work.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

  18. #42
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    So let me start with Lachenmann's "Mouvement (-vor der Erstarrung)

    I recommend you start from the 4 minute mark and watch for at least four minutes. The wealth of techniques being used you'll be able to "see" as well as hear with the result being a kaleidoscopic soundfield.

    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Orfeo's Avatar
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    Alexander Glazunov ranks up there with Rimsky-Korsakov, Ravel, Stravinsky, perhaps even Respighi, in my honest opinion (examine his ballet "The Seasons" or even "The Sea"). I will also mention Puccini also (his La Fanciulla del West is amazing). Lehar comes to mind also (as do Reinhold Gliere).

    Massenet and Richard Strauss, even Schmitt? Not bad at all.
    Last edited by Orfeo; Nov-13-2017 at 18:16.
    David A. Hollingsworth (dholling)

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  20. #44
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    On to Poul Ruders and his "Gong"

    For almost the entire work, which is quite dense much of the time, there is always something orchestration-wise that makes you wonder "What the heck is that? or "How did he do that?" The accumulative effect of the scoring is one of raw power.

    As much as I love the very beginning of this piece, I recommend starting around the 6 minute mark and go for a minimum of four minutes

    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

  21. #45
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    I would say it has to be Mahler, considering how difficult it is to do first rate recordings of his densely orchestrated symphonies. Mahler is the one composer whose orchestration is rarely, if ever given full justice via the recording process (perhaps only by the Exton label?). More than others I think his symphonies have to be heard in the concert hall to be fully appreciated. Although I suppose it could be argued that that's a weakness, that Mahler's orchestration is too dense, relative to the ingenious simplicity of Haydn or Mozart.

    However, is there any orchestration more thrilling and expansive than Stravinsky's Firebird ballet, or The Rite of Spring, or Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloe, or Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, or the 5th & 7th Symphonies of Jean Sibelius? I rank those works very highly. The "Sirènes" movement of Debussy's Nocturnes is also utterly masterful (& clearly influenced Ravel's Daphnis, as did Debussy's beautifully orchestrated Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun).

    Charles Koechlin was another composer that had a remarkable ear for matching a variety of instrumental timbres. It isn't an accident that the ailing Debussy asked Koechlin to orchestrate his late ballet, Khamma. Faure also relied on Koechlin to orchestrate his Pelleas et Melisande. Koechlin's orchestration gifts are evident in his chamber music (as unfortunately, so few conductors have bothered to record his symphonies), where Koechlin matches various woodwind & string instruments in imaginative & unusual ways. (He reminds me a bit of Haydn in this respect.) A good example is Koechlin's late 1949-50 chamber orchestration of his 1917 solo piano piece Paysages et Marines (performed by Christoph Keller and Ensemble Mobile Zürich--it's on You Tube). What Koechlin does with the orchestration of his solo piano work Les Heures Persanes is likewise remarkable (especially when heard conducted by Leif Segerstam). (By the way, Koechlin wrote books on orchestration, if memory serves.)

    Among more recent composers, the Scandinavian composers Joonas Kokkonen, Vagn Holmboe & Allan Pettersson have all impressed me with their ability to use a full orchestra. Have a listen to Kokkonen's 3rd & 4th symphonies (conducted by Kamu, Oramo, or Berglund), or Holmboe's 8th, or Pettersson's 7th (conducted by Comissiona), for example. While today, Magnus Lindberg continues to show a growing mastery, as with his Violin Concerto (though no symphonies yet).
    Last edited by Josquin13; Nov-13-2017 at 19:38.

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