Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

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Heck148
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Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:17 pm

I know we all tend to think of all orchestral works as combined efforts of the entire ensemble - a group effort, an ensemble working together in perfect precision and harmony, no individual standouts, but a concerted community effort.

however, there are certain works that really live or die by the orchestral soloists - they are written in such fashion that individual solos are vitally and consistently carrying the "musical ball"
Of course, many works feature extremely frequent, and exposed solos for the orchestrla principals, so this topic will be most subjective - obviously, I'm not considering concerti, or sinfonia concertante-style works. I'll start with a couple that to me, illustrate my point -

Bolero, Ravel- of course - one ultra-exposed solo after another...if your soloists suck, or are having a bad night, your Bolero is going down the tubes...

Sheherazade, R-K - another tour de force for orchestral soloists - esp the violin - if Sheherazade herself is out of the groove, it's going to be a long night - other solos are most important as well - clarinet, bassoon, oboe, flute, cello, horn, trumpet, trombone[II]. These solos really have to be delivered with panache, bravura, to sell the work...wimpy, tepid playing will kill it.

I'm inclined to include -
Petrushka/Stravinsky as well, even tho there is so much vital ensemble work as well - but the solos are really prominent, and must have that tongue-in-cheek pathos, sarcasm - flute, bassoon, clarinet, trumpet

I guess one could reasonably include Mahler Sym #5 in this list - the horn and trumpet solo parts are absolutely vital throughout...tho with Mahler, Bruckner and Strauss - the composers get everyone in on the action pretty constantly.

What are some other works that rely so heavily on orchestral principal soloists??

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Lance » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:34 pm

Interesting subject! I would add to your list the Mahler Symphony #3 given the posthorn in the third movement and also the alto or mezzo work in the fourth movement. Stunning work!
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Heck148
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:55 pm

Lance wrote:Interesting subject! I would add to your list the Mahler Symphony #3 given the posthorn in the third movement and also the alto or mezzo work in the fourth movement. Stunning work!
Also - Mahler 3 has major solo for Trombone I in mvt I....of course, big posthorn solo in III.

lots of Mahler, and Strauss, Bruckner, too, rely on major solos from principal players - but there is so much full orchestra ensemble/cnamber music work as well -
I've not so jokingly referred to Mahler Sym #4 as Mahler's Concerto for WW 5tet and Orchestra!! :D
pieces like Bolero feature the soloists...there ain't much else going on.... :)
I wasn't so much referring to vocal soloists - that's getting into the concerto-type work, where the non-instrumental solo is featured. I was thinking more of purely orchestral works...

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:22 pm



It's Harold Gomberg with Rodzinski and the New York Philharmonic. Very different and, I think, even more remarkable is Robert Bloom, with Stokowski conducting. It would be interesting to know how much of the ebb and flow of tempo is Stokowski and how much is Bloom.



Of course the oboe doesn't solo throughout, but it has the first and last word.
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by diegobueno » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:40 pm

Nielsen's 5th -- needs a snare drummer who can kick butt; in fact one who can kick the whole orchestra's butt.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:45 pm

And a top-flight clarinetist too, like Stanley Drucker in the Bernstein recording.
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:59 am

The famous passage in Strauss's Beim Schlafengehen is brilliantly preceded by an anticipating violin solo, always performed by the concertmaster. However, I prefer this, which I have posted before, This number from Messiah is usually done with a string ensemble. Someone had the sense to recognize that it is, unique within that gigantic work a Bach-cantata-like movement that requires only a soloist and a continuo. It is a case of an orchestration decision being the difference between a mediocre number and a great one. If you look carefully in the following, you will see that the silent string players admire the slight but wonderful ornamentation introduced by the violin soloist (who is plainly sweating blood over this) at the end.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:44 am

Oh yes, and there is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most important example of all.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Heck148
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:24 pm

Again - I amnot concerned with works that feature a designated soloist - vocal or instrumental - but orchestral works that predominantly feature orchestra principals in frequent and/or extended solos....

Pulcinella[Suite]/Stravinsky - might qualify as well - major solos for principals - oboe, bassoon, flute, trombone, 2ble bass...

All of Shostakovich's Symphonies feature extensive solo work for principals - but, like Mahler and Strauss, there is much full orchestra, ensemble, chamber music material as well.

Shostakovich Sym #9 might qualify, however - again some major solos - Bassoon I gets an entire movement!! - Violin, flute, piccolo, Trumpet, clarinet also have prominent solos throughout the work...

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by maestrob » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:54 pm

I know you dislike the piece, Heck, but the third movement of Rachmaninov II depends entirely on the clarinet solo to make it work..... :mrgreen:

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:59 pm

Another for oboe, at 20:55 -



Marcel Tabuteau, playing more beautifully than the soloist (Joseph Szigeti). The story goes that Sarasate refused to play this concerto: "There I'd stand with the fiddle in my hand while the oboe plays the only melody in the whole piece." :)
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by maestrob » Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:05 pm

Image

The Suk String Serenade features the principle string players from each section in difficult solos.....

Then, there's Brahms Piano Concerto II, which features an exposed horn solo in the opening, and extended solo passages for solo cello in the slow movement.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:20 pm

There's no end to this, is there? Dozens of symphonies by Haydn feature one or more orchestral soloists in one or more movements.



Alan Gilbert rashly programmed this symphony in his first season leading the New York Philharmonic and the horn section, notably the principal Philip Myers, let him and Haydn down badly.

The trios of minuets and scherzos by Mozart and Beethoven likewise - the clarinets in Mozart #39, the posthorn in his Serenade #9 giving that piece its name, and the horns in Beethoven #3.



Seems to me there's a long posthorn solo in a Mahler symphony too.
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:03 pm

There's the extended violin solos in Strauss' Ein Heldenleben and the flute solos in Mahler's Symphony No. 10 and Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:20 pm

Heck148 wrote:Again - I amnot concerned with works that feature a designated soloist - vocal or instrumental - but orchestral works that predominantly feature orchestra principals in frequent and/or extended solos....

Pulcinella[Suite]/Stravinsky - might qualify as well - major solos for principals - oboe, bassoon, flute, trombone, 2ble bass...

All of Shostakovich's Symphonies feature extensive solo work for principals - but, like Mahler and Strauss, there is much full orchestra, ensemble, chamber music material as well.

Shostakovich Sym #9 might qualify, however - again some major solos - Bassoon I gets an entire movement!! - Violin, flute, piccolo, Trumpet, clarinet also have prominent solos throughout the work...
I have no more to add and am sorry if I pulled it off topic with the Messiah example, which is an ancient memory of coming home after playing Midnight Mass and being astonished to see a performance of fresh quality of such a familiar work (not just that aria). I think my other two suggestions, the Strauss and the Beethoven, are apropos to what you mean, although they are extremely well known. I mean, I assume you're not interested in the English horn solo from the William Tell overture, though it is in the category you have specified.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by diegobueno » Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:53 pm

John F wrote:There's no end to this, is there? Dozens of symphonies by Haydn feature one or more orchestral soloists in one or more movements.

[Youtube clip of symphony no. 31]

Alan Gilbert rashly programmed this symphony in his first season leading the New York Philharmonic and the horn section, notably the principal Philip Myers, let him and Haydn down badly.
I don't know what titans of the horn Haydn had at Esterhazy, but he pushed them to the limit. When I first heard the Symphony no. 51 (as a teenager) I immediately nick-named it "The Ball-buster". Fun starts at 10:06.


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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by barney » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:48 pm

Tchaikovsky 5?

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by barney » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:49 pm

Does Harold and Italy count? More than obbligato but not quite a concerto.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by josé echenique » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:59 pm

John F wrote:Another for oboe, at 20:55 -



Marcel Tabuteau, playing more beautifully than the soloist (Joseph Szigeti). The story goes that Sarasate refused to play this concerto: "There I'd stand with the fiddle in my hand while the oboe plays the only melody in the whole piece." :)

Absolutely, the last time I heard the concerto with the Concertgebouw the oboist played so heavenly that he stole the show.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:05 pm

maestrob wrote:I know you dislike the piece, Heck, but the third movement of Rachmaninov II depends entirely on the clarinet solo to make it work..... :mrgreen:
unfortunately, it is nowhere near enough to salvage that musical wreck :lol: ....other than the clarinet solo, which is soon obscured by all sorts of orchestral verbiage, there are virtually no solos for principals, worth mentioning, since Rach-y was such a devotee of what came to be known as middle-school-band-style-orchestraion - ie - everyone must be playing at all times. :roll: :D

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:08 pm

John F wrote:the horns in Beethoven #3.
Beethoven is almost in a class by himself - many of the symphonies place constant solo responsibilities on the principals.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by Heck148 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:13 pm

diegobueno wrote: I don't know what titans of the horn Haydn had at Esterhazy, but he pushed them to the limit. When I first heard the Symphony no. 51 (as a teenager) I immediately nick-named it "The Ball-buster". Fun starts at 10:06.
Yes, Haydn 51 -wow!! lots of high concert Bbs [written F for F horn]!!
That's a half-step higher than Schumann "Konzertstuck for 4 Horns", and Strauss "Sinfonia Domestica" - both written up to concert A [written high E for F horn]

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:04 pm

barney wrote:Does Harold and Italy count? More than obbligato but not quite a concerto.
I shouldn't think so. Berlioz composed it for Paganini to play the solo part, and every recording I know of has a name soloist rather than the orchestra's principal viola.
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by jserraglio » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:01 pm

John F wrote:
barney wrote:Does Harold and Italy count? More than obbligato but not quite a concerto.
I shouldn't think so. Berlioz composed it for Paganini to play the solo part, and every recording I know of has a name soloist rather than the orchestra's principal viola.
Image

This one features a principal from the orchestra.

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:18 pm

OK, one exception. :)
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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by maestrob » Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:42 pm

I just realized that we've all missed the famous oboe solo opening the slow movement of Dvorak IX, "Going home...." :oops:

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Re: Works that live or die by the orchestral soloists

Post by John F » Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:23 pm

We've missed many more than that:

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