Author Topic: Composers who write well for instruments  (Read 7941 times)

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Offline Ugh

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Re: Composers who write well for instruments
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2010, 11:30:20 PM »
I like how certain composers really stretch out to explore the possibilities of various instruments. What Cage did for the piano for instance... it is still a piano but it does not sound the way you expect it to... Lachenmann springs to mind... the wood is part of the sonic repertoire of stringed instruments in more than one way...  George Crumb's explorations of various instruments is great fun - marbles poured into a piano.... gurgling in a flute...

Also, I think Stravinsky's writing for violin in Duo Concertante is outstanding. There is this anecdote on how Stravinsky showed Dushkin some sketches on their first meeting and asked him whether it was possible to play the parts. Dushkin looked at them and shook his head, and Stravinsky replied "that's too bad". But when they met again, Dushkin had explored the notes and discovered how to perform them...
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 12:34:28 AM by Ugh »
"I no longer believe in concerts, the sweat of conductors, and the flying storms of virtuoso's dandruff, and am only interested in recorded music." Edgard Varese

kentel

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Re: Composers who write well for instruments
« Reply #41 on: August 25, 2010, 01:06:05 PM »
I haven't played with an orchestra for a long, long time.  But at one time performed  first violin in several semi-professional orchestras.

Rachmaninoff and R. Strauss parts are difficult.  Remember doing one of the Prokofiev piano concerti--his violin parts are sometimes inhumanely fast.  Rimsky-Korsakov and Berlioz parts usually lie well for violin.  Berlioz rhythms are tricky, though, particularly for a less than 100% professional orchestra.  Did the Shostakovich First once.  It was hard.  Sibelius wrote well for the violin (he was a violinist).  I think some of the passages for violin in Tschiakowsky's Ballets are more difficult than the symphonies.

Haven't played any operas since college.  We performed "Tosca" and it was a delight to play.  We also did one of the Bellilni operas, and the violin part was pretty boring.

Sometimes composers write four note chords for violin.  The concertmaster will always divide the chords (violinists can't play all four notes simultaneously).  Some of the three note chords will be treated the same.  Another thing orchestral violinists don't like is a bowed passage immediately following a pizzicato passage (You need a little time to re-acquire your bow grip).  There is a passage in Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" which is required to be played col legno (turning the bow over and hitting the strings with the wood instead of the hair).  Players don't like to abuse their expensive equipment.  I suspect professional players bring out their cheaper bows when they perform this symphony.

Very interesting :)

By the way, I always wondered if Britten's violin concerto, which is one of my favorite and which sounds terribly difficult for a non-violonist was that hard to play...

For the organ, I think (and am quite sure about this) that Gigout's Toccata is the most impressive work composed for the instrument from a writing point of view : it sounds completely virtuoso but it is in fact quite simple to play. (well, I said "quite"...). There is a trick on the score, the very fast part is played alternatively with the left and the right hand but for 2 single notes at each bar, the main theme being a very slow pedal part. Thus the ratio difficulty for the player/impact on the listener is optimal. You can check it here :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lveYWdncajQ

In the same vein, and more beautiful though much (much) harder to play, Dupré's prélude & fugue in G minor uses the same trick (here by Daniel Roth in one of the best interpretation of this piece I've ever heard) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X6cZfy9uR0

On the contrary, playing Bach's Toccata in D minor is really difficult, and from this point of view I wouldn't consider Bach as a "good" writer for the organ, as his music is always technically demanding.

The other extreme is for me Ravel's Ondine in Gaspard de la Nuit : the opening part with the raindrops sounds easy for the listener while it is a nightmare for the player. We could call that a rather uneffective style of writing.  Ravel himself couldn't play it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1AjgkQKftM&feature=related

--Gilles


« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 01:09:35 PM by kentel »

Offline mikkeljs

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Re: Composers who write well for instruments
« Reply #42 on: August 26, 2010, 08:05:18 AM »
There are many of course who wrote good for the piano, but as a pianist you often orchestrate the piece you are playing at least by imagination. I have got the feeling with Brahms late piano works, that even when they bring out deep contrasts that would fit very easily into the orchestra with oboe soli, violin soli, I think their unique character is best carried out on the piano. I think there is something quite impressionistic with those pieces, the sound is so fat in its collors and still it should be played a bit indirect.

 

karlhenning

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Re: Composers who write well for instruments
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2010, 08:10:38 AM »
I don't tend to snipe grammatically at our worthy non-native English users, as in fact I applaud their ability to communicate in it as a second language. This is a worthwhile snipe, though:

There are many of course who wrote good for the piano . . . .

Well, not good, there.  That's an error that does sound bad, Mikkel.  Especially given the subject header ; )

Offline Ugh

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Re: Composers who write well for instruments
« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2010, 06:12:42 AM »
What was that story about Liszt and a group of composers and pianists looking at one of his score and observing that it was impossible to play a certain note at a certain point? Liszt sat down at the piano and showed them how to do it: by using his nose 8) I don't know whether that qualifies as good writing, but it is certainly an amusing party trick :)
"I no longer believe in concerts, the sweat of conductors, and the flying storms of virtuoso's dandruff, and am only interested in recorded music." Edgard Varese