vendredi 30 juillet 2010

Orchestras on Steroids

I was in London for a day of work and picked Gramophone at the newsstand.The venerable magazine new layout is easier to read and it has always interesting content. The accompanying CD includes the storm from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony played by the Basel Chamber Orchestra under its chief conductor, Giovanni Antonini.

Listening to the excerpt in my car was a surprise, the orchestra sounds huge ... There is always a certain tendency inspired by baroque practices to push the sound but what we have here is more likely the results of engineers trying to beef up the voulme of the ensembles. By comparison, Abbado and Berlin Philh in a joyful 3rd movement of Brahms's Violin concerto with a glorious Gil Saham are underwhelming whereas the Mozart Orchestra playing Pergolese's Stabat Mater genuinely sounds like a Chamber ensemble.

The surprising thing is that in the past, many musicians and particularly baroque players were criticizing Karajan for messing with studios buttons to produce what was considered an unnatural and over-powerful sound. Are not all these baroque chamber ensembles unconsciously trying to resemble like someone they criticised so much ?

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