Monday, February 1, 2016

New York Philharmonic Brass

The above is one of my favorite videos on the web and another outstanding demonstration of the ensemble quality of a symphony orchestra brass section.

Unfortunately, the description is rather lacking, but extrapolating from the personnel in the video, we can assume that this is late '80s early 90s New York Phil.

In no way do I seek to disparage or discredit the conductor, James Levine, but I will say that one gets the sense that a section of players this talented and familiar with one another could operate without his guidance. Of course this is the case with all of the top-tier orchestras, but in unity of expression and interpretation, this recording surpasses what a conductor is able to show. The players themselves were steering this ship.

I wanted to make specific mention of the low brass. The way in which you see them interact with one another is so subtle, yet so important. It is clear that these players know each other incredibly well and that their sounds, both in timbre and articulation, are so unified that it sounds like a single player with a phenomenally rich tone. This is particularly apparent in the way they breathe completely as one, leaving off the tone in such a way that it rings through the hall to cover the space in which they take the breath.

As a side note, a former teacher of mine, Warren Deck is the tubist in the section!

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