Author Topic: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?  (Read 3298 times)

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Offline Sylph

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Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« on: April 01, 2010, 04:30:02 AM »
So I just stumbled upon this paragraph:

Quote
Surpassing all his contemporaries in sheer brilliance, there are however two sides to the account presented by Rossini's orchestration. On the credit side stand his clear and well-contrasted colouring, the brilliancy and piquancy of his effects; on the debit side are the somewhat ill-ballanced noisiness of his loud tutti, and what is more than a trace of vulgarity in his handling of the heavy brass voices. The blare of fortissimo brass harmony, reiterated semiquavers, and empty but showy passage-work on the strings, the clash and rattle of percussion instruments, with an occasional shriek from the piccolo; all these combine to make Rossini's loud tutti more exhilarating than impressive. A more or less routine method of distributing the parts sufficed to produce the necessary body and brilliance, but took little account of a proper balance of tone. In inaugurating, or at all events in conventionalising, the use of repeated chords for heavy brass instruments on the unaccented beats of the bar in the manner of a vamped piano accompaniment, Rossini did no good service to the cause of orchestration, for his example in this respect was only too readily followed by the succeeding generation of Italian and light French opera composers who took their cure from his methods, and empasized the vulgar tinge given to music so orchestrated.

Apart from the above influence in establishing a none too high grade of showy sonority and brilliance, Rossini's contributions to the growth of orchestration were all to the good. He took the lead in keeping the pute and elementary colours of the orchestra clearly differentiated, and to some extent counteracted a tendency towards monotony which was caused by too constantly employing various type of tone-colour in neutral-tinted and non-characteristic combinations. Rossini's solo parts stand out in strong relief against the harmonic backgrounds of his accompaniments; the clear utterance of melodic wind-parts is not blurred by sustained harmonic padding on voices of too closely related tone-colour; contrapuntal decoration interferes with the functions of neither melodic nor accompanying parts, and neither lose their individuality as the result of over-blending of intermixing the colour. These were features of part-distribution misunderstod by many a more profound German composer of a later period; features which remained excellent characteristics of French orchestration almost throughout the nineteenth century. Almost any of Rossini's opera overtures will provide examples of combining instrumental colour...

... were being rapidly superceded by methods into which beauty of effect and dramatic fitness entered more thoroughly than at any previous period; thus, the path along which such as Meyerbeer, Berlioz, and Wagner were to proceed was being clearly marked out, even though it was not firmly trodden down.




So... I was wondering:


1. Any examples of this vulgar brass writing?

2. Which would you say is his best orchestrated work?

3. Are there any passages in his works that you would single out? As either awful or excellent.

4. Any favourite overtures?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 04:46:52 AM by Sylph »

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2010, 06:39:03 AM »
Rossini - Stabat Mater - Cujus animam gementem
The words translated are thus:

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed...


The actual piece in the Stabat Mater is beautifully orchestrated and heroically sung by tenor.  It is magnificent...BUT...for anyone who knows this piece, shouldn't it be orchestrated in a more downbeat way, as the tenor is singing about a grief stricken holy mother?  The way it is sung on every version I've heard, and the orchestration behind it, doesn't fit the sad picture it's trying to paint at all.  Why does the music reflect hope and victory when the scene is nothing of the sort?
Hmmm...
Favourite Overture?  L'italiana in Algeri.  Whooping stuff.  Rossinis' overtures I play when I am doing housework or something that needs a bit of life!

Offline knight66

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Re: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2010, 11:24:51 AM »
I agree with John, the piece sounds like opera and it is not just the orchestration, but the overall style of the piece. He positively relishes it in terms of the tempi, the sprung rhythms and the drama. It has no pathos whatsoever. I like the piece, but you need to ignore the meaning of the words.

The 'Barber' Overture can be pretty exhausting on the ear, cymbals constantly crashing. But to balance that, he was a wizard of the operatic ensemble. Some simply stunning pieces of writing.

Mike
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Offline david johnson

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Re: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2010, 01:29:07 AM »
I disagree with the paragraph the o/p discovered. I'll be glad to listen to something its author composed, just to be fair.

Offline Sylph

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Re: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2010, 11:25:56 AM »
I disagree with the paragraph the o/p discovered. I'll be glad to listen to something its author composed, just to be fair.

How do you view him as an orchestrator?

Offline david johnson

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Re: Rossini — A Vulgar Orchestrator?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2010, 02:55:20 AM »
He grabs my ear to my satisfaction.  I do hear the lines clearly and appreciate that...don't know how much of that is due to the conductor/orchestra abilities.