Roger Hecht <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Going back that far, who knows: maybe I'd agree. Not that it matters
> if I do or not, since you know that period of orchestral playing much
> better than I do. I was thinking more about the 1950s-60s.
During that period of time, we had Ormandy in Philadelphia and Munch and
Leinsdorf in Boston. From what I know of the recording, both commercial
and broadcast, the Philadelphia Orchestra was still Stokie's orchestra
and had a superb sound. For me, Ormandy was rarely an inspired conductor.
I believe that he was a fine musician, and was able to maintain the
excellence that Stokowski brought to the playing. Munch performances,
for me, are amongst those that I treasure the most in my collection.
This is especially true of his broadcast performances. He could be
uneven, but that was only, from what I could tell, very rare. I find
an excitement that I rarely encounter. Leinsdorf was, to my ears, more
controlled, but much of the time, superb. I guess I would find it
difficult to say which was the better orchestra in terms of technical
Those two decades also gave us Bernstein in New York, Szell in Cleveland,
Stokowski and Barbirolli in Houston, Reiner and Martinon in Chicago. It
was, for me, a very special time with great music making.
Going back to the 40s, the period we were first discussing, it was
Koussevitzky in Boston, Ormandy in Philadelphia, Defauw and Rodzinski
in Chicago, Leinsdorf and Szell in Cleveland, Rodzinski in New York,
Monteux in San Francisco, and, of course, Toscanini with NBC. For me,
it is a toss up between Philadelphia and Boston at that time. However,
interpretively, I would clearly give Boston the prize. Writing this I
am reminded of a remarkable recording I have of Koussevitzky conducting
the New York Philharmonic in La Mer and the Second Suite of Daphnis.
The orchestra played magnificently and the interpretations were, to my
ears, far more inspired that anything Rodzinski was doing with New York
at that time.
As for the quality of the playing...from a technical standpoint, I
believe that orchestras today are every bit the equal of times past,
if not better than they have ever been.
I think the playing in even the smaller communities can be remarkable.
Yesterday I was listening to a broadcast recording of the Rachmaninoff
1st Symphony given by the Oklahoma City Symphony back in 1952. The
playing was, remarkably good.
As to which orchestra is or was the best...again, I believe it depends...
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