Who are the best players today of the following instruments?

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madeleines

Who are the best players today of the following instruments?

Post by madeleines » Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:50 pm

Hello everyone,

I am taking a university course overview of classical music and have been thrilled and amazed with everything I've learned so far. For a project, I would like to know who are considered the current top players of various instruments are (I understand this is VERY controversial, but this is an overview class just to get acquainted with the infinite world of classical music).
I would sincerely be grateful for recommendations of the top players in the following categories. Please recommend only performers who are still playing/ touring that I have a reasonable chance of someday seeing perform in a large city. If you only have recommendations in one category, that would still be marvelous!

Harp
Harpsichord
Organ
Flute
Clarinet
Voice (all categories)
Violin
Cello

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Madeleine :D

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Re: Who are the best players today of the following instrume

Post by Ralph » Tue Jul 19, 2005 6:35 pm

madeleines wrote:Hello everyone,

I am taking a university course overview of classical music and have been thrilled and amazed with everything I've learned so far. For a project, I would like to know who are considered the current top players of various instruments are (I understand this is VERY controversial, but this is an overview class just to get acquainted with the infinite world of classical music).
I would sincerely be grateful for recommendations of the top players in the following categories. Please recommend only performers who are still playing/ touring that I have a reasonable chance of someday seeing perform in a large city. If you only have recommendations in one category, that would still be marvelous!

STRICTLY MY 8:44PM CHOICES:

Harp: NANCY ALLEN
Harpsichord: JOS IMERSEEL
Organ: No one right now
Flute: JAMES GALWAY
Clarinet: CHARLES NEIDICH
Voice (all categories): PLACIDO DOMINGO
Violin: ANN-SOPHIE MUTTER
Cello: YO YO MA
Stereo: ME

GOOD LUCK! Why not start hanging out here? You'll learn a lot and have fun too.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Madeleine :D
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Post by MahlerSnob » Tue Jul 19, 2005 8:55 pm

There are so many...

Harp - Ann Hobson Pilot (doesn't perform too much as soloist, but has been the harpist of the BSO forever)
Harpsichord - not my area of expertise
Organ - I'm not too up on it. There's supposed to be a teenager who's absolutely fantastic, but I don't remember the name. Organ isn't a very popular solo instrument right now, outside of churches.
Flute - James Gallway
Clarinet - Richard Stolzman
Voice (all categories) - the big names are people like Domingo, Renee Flemming, Fredricka von Stade, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voight, Nathan Gunn, etc. The list goes on and on. Just check out the cast for any big MET production.
Violin - again, so many. Christian Tetzlaff and Gil Shaham are two of my favorites
Cello - Ma, Rostropovich, Lynn Harell, etc.
-Nathan Lofton
Boston, MA

WWBD - What Would Bach Do?

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 20, 2005 12:41 am

We're not doin' your homework for you, are we, Madeleine? A visit to the library for the past year's worth of Gramophone should give you a list that should pass muster. Just pick any they do feature stories on. BBC Music Magazine too. There is no "the" list.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 20, 2005 12:43 am

Ralph, Domingo doesn't sing all voices. Surely you could think of some others . . .
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Post by Ralph » Wed Jul 20, 2005 4:51 am

Corlyss_D wrote:Ralph, Domingo doesn't sing all voices. Surely you could think of some others . . .
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Methinks me misunderstood the question-I thought I had to pick ONE singer from any category. I am dripped in oozing shame by my mistake and will now eat my morning bagel in silence.
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Post by Peter Schenkman » Wed Jul 20, 2005 5:44 am

It’s the kind of question that I don’t answer but on the subject there is a wonderful Rachmaninoff story. When Rachmaninoff was asked during the 1930’s who the greatest pianist in the world was immediately replied “Hofmann”, he was then asked who the second greatest pianist was and his answer was “me”. Then who is the third greatest pianist was the question and we’re still waiting for the answer. The two of them, Josef Hofmann and Sergei Rachmaninoff, really were that good. Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto is dedicated to Hofmann who ironically never performed it. Anyone who has interest and wants to know what’s available should let it be known and I’ll be more then happy to point to where the aural evidence is.

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"best" musicians

Post by premont » Wed Jul 20, 2005 5:57 am

Certainly a matter of personal preference. If I were sent to a desert island, I would bring some recordings of Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord) and Wolfgang Rübsam (organ) with me.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Jul 20, 2005 6:24 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:It’s the kind of question that I don’t answer but on the subject there is a wonderful Rachmaninoff story. When Rachmaninoff was asked during the 1930’s who the greatest pianist in the world was immediately replied “Hofmann”, he was then asked who the second greatest pianist was and his answer was “me”. Then who is the third greatest pianist was the question and we’re still waiting for the answer. The two of them, Josef Hofmann and Sergei Rachmaninoff, really were that good. Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto is dedicated to Hofmann who ironically never performed it. Anyone who has interest and wants to know what’s available should let it be known and I’ll be more then happy to point to where the aural evidence is.

Peter Schenkman
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There's a fun legend in the legal profession. When asked who the top three litigators in his/her field are, the lawyer responds by saying that the names of two others didn't spring to mind (same story often told in medicine).
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Post by Peter Schenkman » Wed Jul 20, 2005 9:14 am

Nice, but unlike many such apocryphal stories this one was cited by no less an authority then Abram Chasins author of “Speaking of Pianists” which is something of a minor masterpiece on the subject of twentieth-century pianists. Mr. Chasins who was a distinguished pianist in his own right with recordings to prove it knew Hofmann and Rachmaninoff well and I believe that it was he that asked the questions and he that Rachmaninoff directed his answers to.

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Post by pizza » Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:00 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:Nice, but unlike many such apocryphal stories this one was cited by no less an authority then Abram Chasins author of “Speaking of Pianists” which is something of a minor masterpiece on the subject of twentieth-century pianists. Mr. Chasins who was a distinguished pianist in his own right with recordings to prove it knew Hofmann and Rachmaninoff well and I believe that it was he that asked the questions and he that Rachmaninoff directed his answers to.

Peter Schenkman
Chasins really knew his way around the inner sanctum of the music world and was something of a Rennaisance man in his own right. As well as a pianist, he was a critic, teacher, author and composer. His "Three Chinese Pieces" for solo piano is a little gem. He was also an excellent duo-pianist and often performed with his student, Constance Keene, herself a renowned pianist whom he later married.

In his chapter on Rachmaninoff, he describes how R insisted that he prepare a 2nd piano reduction of the orchestration for C's own piano concerto and worked with him at the piano in preparing the performance. He describes Rachmaninoff's personality and work ethic from the point of view of an artist who knew him well and the short chapter reveals much about him that is missed by the standard biographies.

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Post by diegobueno » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:05 am

Charles Neidich and Richard Stoltzman are both phenomenal players and candidates for the title of greatest clarinetist.

Ricardo Morales and David Shifrin are two other names that should be added to the list.

I heard Neidich play an astounding Corigliano Clarinet Concerto in Syracuse. His fingers moved so fast, I kept waiting for a sonic boom. He plays the Copland Clarinet Concerto in an early more difficult version that Copland never had published (which may or may not be a good thing). His recording of sonatas by Mendelssohn, Weber (Grand Duo) and Danzi does not make a strong argument for period clarinets. He has a technique few playeres can match.

I heard Stoltzman, as part of Tashi, deliver the definitive performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. No "Dance of the seven trumpets" has ever come close in perfect unity among the players, all at a hair-raising tempo. In his premiere of the Rautavaara Clarinet Concerto, Stoltzman made the extreme altissimo register of the clarinet sound just as sweet and lyrical as the more comfortable middle registers.

Ricardo Morales has the fastest tongue in the west, and probably the east as well. The Nielsen Concerto I heard him play, was marred by a so-so orchestra and conductor, but the clarinet solo was superlative.

David Shifrin's recording of the Mozart Concerto and Quintet is perhaps my favorite account of this music. Very beautiful singing tone.

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Post by C.B. » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:31 am

diegobueno wrote:His recording of sonatas by Mendelssohn, Weber (Grand Duo) and Danzi does not make a strong argument for period clarinets. He has a technique few playeres can match.
Have to agree with you there. Neidich's recordings on early clarinet seem a little "hamstrung" to me, as if he's not really confortable on the instrument.

For really superlative performances on early clarinet, listen to just about anything done by Eric Hoeprich. Beautiful, expressive, singing tone and flawless, fluid technique. His recording of the Mozart concerto with Brueggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century on Philips is my all-time fav.
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:47 am

C.B. wrote:Neidich's recordings on early clarinet seem a little "hamstrung" to me, as if he's not really confortable on the instrument.
You mean, there are actual reasons why the mechanism was improved, and it wasn't just a conspiracy of Grumpy Old Anti-Traditionalists? :-)
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Early woodwinds

Post by C.B. » Thu Jul 21, 2005 10:40 am

I take it, then, that you are not a fan of early woodwinds?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:20 pm

C.B. wrote:For really superlative performances on early clarinet, listen to just about anything done by Eric Hoeprich. Beautiful, expressive, singing tone and flawless, fluid technique. His recording of the Mozart concerto with Brueggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century on Philips is my all-time fav.
Thanks for the tip, C. I love original winds.

What do you think of Hacker? I've always been impressed with his tone.
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Alan Hacker

Post by C.B. » Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:12 pm

You know, I have one or two of his CDs from the early '80s (on the Amon Ra label), which I've enjoyed very much, but I haven't seen anything from him since then.

I assume, therefore, that Hacker is no longer active, or perhaps departed this earth. Any info?
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Post by diegobueno » Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:51 pm

Tone is, I'd say, the least of Hacker's virtues. He was one of the first players to record on early clarinets. As the performance level for early instruments continues to rise, I would search out newer recordings to get a better picture of what the early models of clarinets could do.

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Re: Alan Hacker

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:56 pm

C.B. wrote:You know, I have one or two of his CDs from the early '80s (on the Amon Ra label), which I've enjoyed very much, but I haven't seen anything from him since then.

I assume, therefore, that Hacker is no longer active, or perhaps departed this earth. Any info?
Apparently not dead yet

You know he had that accident that left him paralyzed and he had to learn to play all over again using different muscles. I kinda thought maybe he was dead too.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:59 pm

diegobueno wrote:Tone is, I'd say, the least of Hacker's virtues. He was one of the first players to record on early clarinets. As the performance level for early instruments continues to rise, I would search out newer recordings to get a better picture of what the early models of clarinets could do.
Thanks, Mark. I'm glad he's not as poorly thought of as Holliger seems to be among professionals. I first became acquainted with his playing when I was in my Mozart phase, late 70s-early 80s. I was mighty impressed with his use of original instruments to play the basset horn/clarinet concerto and quintet.
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madeleines

thanks everyone

Post by madeleines » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:59 am

Many thanks to everyone for educating me... especially about the clarinet. I will have to go buy some CDs of these musicians now!

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Post by Dickson » Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:29 am

I'm glad to see that Alan Hacker is still going strong. It looks like he's concentrating more time on arranging works for clarinet ensembles, which is a great thing. And he wasn't just a HIP clarinetist. He was one of the more important "new music" clarinet players in the 70s and 80s. One of the groups he was in was Fires of London (bad memory here, but I think that was it) which put out some nice recordings, and his website talks about his involvement with Birtwistle, so he must still be into the new music scene.
And no, his tone was not his forte. I have a recording of him playing Brahms that is almost hard to take.

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