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Subject: "ENB orchestra" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #747
Reading Topic #747
Jonathan

12-06-00, 11:59 AM (GMT)
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"ENB orchestra"
 
   Did anyone share Debra Craine's view that the SB score was "ill-served" by the ENB orchestra? I thought they were rather good, myself.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ENB orchestra eugene 12-06-00 1
     RE: ENB orchestra Bruce Madmin 12-06-00 2
         RE: ENB orchestra p.s.stammers 12-06-00 3
     RE: ENB orchestra jonathan 13-06-00 4
         RE: ENB orchestra eugene merrett 13-06-00 5
             RE: ENB orchestra Bruce Madmin 13-06-00 6
                 RE: ENB orchestra alison 14-06-00 7
                     RE: ENB orchestra Jonathan 14-06-00 8
                         RE: ENB orchestra eugene 14-06-00 9
                         RE: ENB orchestra Anneliese Handley 14-06-00 10
                             RE: ENB orchestra jonathan 16-06-00 12
                             RE: ENB orchestra Anneliese 16-06-00 13
                             RE: ENB orchestra Jane N 16-06-00 14
                             RE: ENB orchestra Anneliese 17-06-00 15
                             RE: ENB orchestra jonathan 17-06-00 16
                             RE: ENB orchestra Anneliese 19-06-00 18
                         RE: ENB orchestra Jane N 14-06-00 11
  Test Bruceadmin 18-06-00 17

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eugene

12-06-00, 12:28 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #0
 
   I have always felt that the ENB orchestra is not very good. In fact I would prefer to see them use taped music especially for the Nutrcacker in the Coli.

When I hear the ROH orchestra do Prince and the Pagodas, ondine and Sleeping Bueauty I find the use of a world class orchestra for ballet is a real bonus irrespective of how well they play Swan Lake (which they do not even rehearse!).

You surely have noticed how much better the playing of the ROH orchestra for Coppelia (even if the conducting was a bit turgid) then the ENB orchestra.


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Bruce Madmin

12-06-00, 12:53 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #1
 
   Oh dear - I think we are going to have the usual re-run of the arguments.

While the ROH orchestra continue to deliver bum notes - most notably from the brass - I will continue to think them very poor value in comparison to the BRB and ENB orchestras who know they are there to serve ballet... and bother.

The ENB Sleeping B sounded just fine to me. The BRB orchestra under Wordsworth also did well with Giselle and the rapport between pit and stage was noticably better than we normally see at the ROH.


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p.s.stammers

12-06-00, 02:50 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #2
 
   Bruce a suggestion for a future poll- which is the best orchestra for Ballet?
Pauline


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jonathan

13-06-00, 08:56 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #1
 
   >I have always felt that the ENB
>orchestra is not very good.
>In fact I would prefer to
>see them use taped music especially
>for the Nutrcacker in the Coli.

Perhaps you should take a walkman with you and a recording of your choice.

>You surely have noticed how much better
>the playing of the ROH orchestra
>for Coppelia (even if the conducting
>was a bit turgid) then the
>ENB orchestra.

I didn't I'm afraid, I was watching the ballet.


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eugene merrett

13-06-00, 03:50 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #4
 
   Jonathan, I would use a tape recorder with earphones if I could synchronize with the live orchestra.

I guess we hava a fundamentally different view of the importance of music in ballet. To me music is so important it can effect whether I like a ballet irrepective of how good the dancing.

That is perhaps why I did not like the Jazz suite as much as I should of. I found that an hour of Duke Ellington too much for me. Some of his fans claim he is as great as Bach, Chopin etc. But based on what I heared that night I am not so sure. Every thing elso about Nutcracker and Sweeties

But I would say Jonathan (and with the utmost repect for your opinions) that if you take the view that music in ballet should not be noticed then you can hardly expect top quality musicians to give ballet the same commitment as they do to opera.

I have always been more forgiving of the ROH orchestra in Swan Lake then I should di. Perhaps it because I hate the production so much that the substandard playing is the least of my concerns!!


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Bruce Madmin

13-06-00, 04:29 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #5
 
  
>I guess we hava a fundamentally different
>view of the importance of music
>in ballet. To me music
>is so important it can effect
>whether I like a ballet irrepective
>of how good the dancing.

I think we need to separate out music and the playing of music...

Music is very improtant to me as well - I can't bear to watch Daphis and Chloe because I so detest the music. I also found Pierrot Lunaire a real trial too and doubt that I will ever get to appreciate the movement so dominated was my mind by horrid sounds.

I agree that the ROH orchestra, eyes closed, can sound rich - the strings particulalry. But I don't listen with eyes closed: I'm looking at the stage and bum notes are so intrusive. Whats more the BRB and ENB orchestras tend to respond to the conductor. The ROH orchestra are much more a law to themselves and it's not unusual to see a conductor at the ROH giving their apparent all while the orchestra ignore them totaly...

Perhaps those who like opera and ballet get more from the ROH orchestra whereas those who are more into dance see things differntly?


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alison

14-06-00, 12:37 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #6
 
   Bruce, how can you *possibly* not like the score of Daphnis and Chloe? To my mind it's arguably the greatest ballet score ever! (and the sunrise is magnificent).

But anyway, to get back to the original point of this posting, I thought the ENB orchestra perfectly okay last night, although I did notice a lot of rumbly noises which I suspect was the percussion echoing in the hollow space under the orchestra (must be a mite unpleasant for any dancers who have to hang around under there). I do remember them producing some awfully duff notes in Romeo a couple of years ago, though.


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Jonathan

14-06-00, 04:35 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #7
 
   Music is extremely important to me, and I do listen, honestly. However, at a ballet performance it doesn't engage me as much as watching the dance, so unless it's really terrible, I can't say I notice. What I do notice, however, is when conductors and orchestras are out of sympathy with what's going on on stage - like moments in the ROH Coppelia, where Leanne Benjamin could not have been clearer in her dancing, and yet the orchestra were just on another planet. Ballet should be a partnership between music and dance, and the more in tune with the dancers the conductor is, the better the music, in my view, no matter how good or not so good the orchestra may be on its own.

As for Daphnis and Chloe - this is an old chestnut. Musicians always say it's the best ballet score ever written, but they are considering the score on its own. It has a musical agenda all of its own which constantly leads your attention from the stage to the orchestra pit - not ideal when you are trying to sell a ballet. I felt much the same way about Jeux, incidentally - that the musical shape distracted terribly from the shape of the choreography.

Tchaikovsky took a long time learning about the specific needs of ballet as opposed to concert music (things like exits and entrances, scene changes, how long people can dance without throwing up etc). While D&C may be a fine score, there's an awful lot of it which just doesn't work as stage music, I think. Personally, though, I agree with Bruce - I can't bear it.



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eugene

14-06-00, 05:03 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #8
 
   I loved Dahpnis and Chloe and I cannot wait until they put it on again. I also thought the sets were pretty good. But I will remember most of all the incredibly radiant Sarah Wildor particularly in the last few scenes.

I want it back for 2001-2002 and ideally with out the need for a curtain for the final set change!!!


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Anneliese Handley

14-06-00, 09:39 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #8
 
   Perhaps I shouldn't join this debate as (a) I haven't seen the production in question and (b) I haven't seen any live ballet for about a year. Still, that wouldn't stop any of the rest of you, would it?

Music is my "thing", and I have played in amateur orchestras of varying standards for many years. So, I know bad playing and it leaps out at me in the same way that poor spelling and grammar does (note that I am very restrained in these pages and have never corrected Eugene's typos!) (and yes, I know that my grammar when posting is appalling; a fact of e-dialogue, I'm afraid!). However, there is more than bad playing at stake here; there's an inapproprate reading of the score, which is a different thing. The former is unarguable, and we can all quote examples. My pet hate was in winter '92 when the band butchered the nocturne in the Dream for poor Lesley Collier and (I think) Bruce Sansom. There's no excuse for that; it's a standard of the repertoire and any principal horn who plays it badly isn't worth his (or any) salary. Neither are the rest of the orchestra who are failing to keep together - it's hardly Henze, is it? So, that's just laziness/inattention to detail/incompetence/a bad night.

The question of how well a conductor does his/her job is much more difficult. I'm afraid I would instinctively blame the dancer for not staying in time with the music unless the reading was pathologically odd, but then we all have our own ideas of how we like the piece to be played and danced, and so we would probably all blame either the conductor or the dancer in different instances. Or even the director! I don't think I've seen a performance where I would have said that the conductor was doing badly, whereas I have often complained about poor playing and unmusical dancing. Maybe that's just my mindset.

Back to ENB: I saw Swan Lake last year, and the year before that (I think) Madame Butterfly, and in both cases the amplified orchestra was just horrible. In Butterfly the amplification seemed to do less harm to the voices than to the band. So I wouldn't blame absolutely everything on the musicians (unless the playing really was terrible) - blame the director for using an inappropriate space (although they manage semi-staged opera at the Proms without difficulty!)

Just my 1.50 worth.


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jonathan

16-06-00, 07:35 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #10
 
   >I'm afraid I would
>instinctively blame the dancer for not
>staying in time with the music
>unless the reading was pathologically odd

That's the view a lot of musicians take, because they think that "staying in time" with the music is as simple for a dancer as it is for a musician, forgetting that twiddling your fingers is not the same as negotiating gravity with your body weight.

"Pathologically odd" can mean one-and-a-half metronome beats to a dancer with a particularly difficult variation to do, or more to the point, it may mean a subtle difference in energy level.

I'm afraid that for me, the word "reading" applied to music (and it's very common) is red rag to a bull. That does indeed describe what a lot of musicians do - just read the music, a sort of aural touch-typing. The commitment and energy required of a dancer is on a level much higher than this - probably nearer to that of a soloist playing a concerto from memory.

Sadly, a lot of musicians think that ballet is just a load of frivolous bimbos jogging about while they give their concert - but then what do you expect from a predominantly male profession?


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Anneliese

16-06-00, 02:02 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #12
 
   Oh dear. I used the word "reading" to mean "interpretation". Music is never just "read".

And I instinctively assume that the dancer is out of time with the music not the orchestra out of time with the dancer because (a) there are more of the musicians and (b) it's the thing that we always got yelled at for in performances in my youth! You had to be very much the favoured pupil for the pianist to change her tempo for pose turns from the corner in our class!

I DO know how hard it is to dance - believe me! But there aren't many dancers who could do the orchestral musicians' jobs, in exactly the same way as hardly any of the pit band could dance the little swans' variation (ps I can - sort of!) And you know, just as well, that playing music is a lot more than twiddling your fingers.

I think your comments about what constitutes a pathologically odd reading of the score (what I meant here was a conductor's pathologically odd interpretation of how the music should go, is that better?) are interesting. I would expect any musician to notice a difference of 1.5 beats in required over actual pace in a variation. But there is a question of at what stage do you say "the dancer's not up to it"? How far do you twist the music to suit the dancer? But if it's tiny nuances you're talking about, then it's all down to rehearsal time and rapport between dancer and conductor - and let's face it there are too many dancers in the RB for the number of performances they give, so you can never get a consistent interpretation of the ballet.


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Jane N

16-06-00, 07:47 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #13
 
   Anneliese: Your comment "I instinctively assume that the dancer is out of time with the music not the orchestra out of time with the dancer because (a) there are more of the musicians" is just not fair. That's like saying a concerto soloist should stay in time with the orchestra! It just doesn't work like that. The most important bit in the combination is the conductor. Their main job is to co-ordinate ALL the elements that make up the performance, whether it's a concert, an opera or a ballet. If you have a good conductor who is sensitive to the needs of the soloist (be they musician, singer or dancer) then they can gently adjust the orchestra accordingly - that is, of course, assuming you have musicians who are watching the conductor. And therein lies the rub, and where both your and Jonathan's comments come together, albeit from different directions: it is essential to have 1) good musicians with a professional attitude, 2) a sympathetic conductor, and 3) a dancer who will maintain visual contact with the conductor as much as possible, and trust them to react and redirect the music as needed, in the just the same way that the conductor should do for solo musicians and singers who have to breathe! One final thought: there's an old joke amongst musicians which springs to mind. Musician 1: "We did a really good concert last night." Musician 2: "Oh really, who was conducting?" Musician 1: "I don't know, I didn't look."


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Anneliese

17-06-00, 11:40 AM (GMT)
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15. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #14
 
   Jane, didn't you spot that my tongue was ever so slightly in my cheek?? I agree wholeheartedly with your posting and if only this were an audible medium I would tell my celebrated double bass joke (but as the punchline involves singing there would be little point I fear!)

But anyway, just how bad was (or wasn't) the band at the RAH?

And responding to things that Eugene and Jonathan said earlier, my other half regards the music as one of the most important parts of the ballet experience - if the music's not very good (eg Bayadere, Don Q) he tends not to enjoy the ballet much. Conversely, my baby son loves trite "four on the right, four on the left, assemble soutenu, hold" tunes!


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jonathan

17-06-00, 03:52 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #13
 
   >I DO know how hard it is
>to dance - believe me!
>But there aren't many dancers who
>could do the orchestral musicians' jobs,
>in exactly the same way as
>hardly any of the pit band
>could dance the little swans' variation

The issue was about the level of commitment and energy required. You can play an instrument when you're old, fat, drunk, and haven't practised.

> And you know, just as
>well, that playing music is a
>lot more than twiddling your fingers.

Mentally yes, physically not much more.

>But there is a
>question of at what stage
>do you say "the dancer's not
>up to it"? How far
>do you twist the music to
>suit the dancer?

The margins for error or experimentation vary according to the demands of what is being danced. In Berlin we occasionally used to have "bad conductor" rehearsals, i.e. the soloist would ask deliberately for the music to be played at the worst extremes of speed possible to see how they would deal with it. What very rarely happened is that a soloist would get a speed which showed them at their best. This is unfair, and I doubt it would happen in opera.

>But if
>it's tiny nuances you're talking about,
>then it's all down to rehearsal
>time and rapport between dancer and
>conductor - and let's face it
>there are too many dancers in
>the RB for the number of
>performances they give, so you can
>never get a consistent interpretation of
>the ballet.

Not the best publicity I have seen for the RB! However, if an understanding of the art form is there, rapport can be instant, or rather, a conductor can read the signs properly.


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Anneliese

19-06-00, 11:41 AM (GMT)
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18. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #16
 
   >
>The issue was about the level
>of commitment and energy required.
>You can play an instrument
>when you're old, fat, drunk,
>and haven't practised.
>
Not very well you can't!

>> And you know, just as
>>well, that playing music is a
>>lot more than twiddling your fingers.
>
>Mentally yes, physically not much more.

Hmm. You're not a wind player, then?
>
>

But I still haven't been told whether the orchestra and/or conductor were any good!


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Jane N

14-06-00, 11:02 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: ENB orchestra"
In response to message #8
 
   Dear Jonathan: I agree with a lot of what you say. I feel that ideally, the music and the dancing should support one another, and that when you get a performance where that happens, it's usually terrific, even if there are odd mistakes on either side. Dancers are very responsive to good musical performances, and they have the right to expect the whole orchestra to turn in a good, professional job. I agree with Anneliese, there is no excuse for anything less. By the way, some musicians, like myself, don't necessarily describe Daphnis & Chloe as the best ballet score ever written - I personally feel that it should be left in it's concert form, as it must be hell to dance to. I much prefer Tchaik., and feel that his ballet music should be left in it's ballet form (i.e. with the dancers.) It definitely lacks something without them, and he wrote plenty of stuff just for the concert hall for us to be getting on with. Incidentally, I think Jeux was written originally for the piano, so no wonder the musical shape feels wrong.


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Bruceadmin

18-06-00, 10:07 PM (GMT)
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17. "Test"
In response to message #0
 
   Don't mind me - wanted to do test on big thread. thanks


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