Wednesday, July 10

Oboist’s Trinity / IDRS 2013 art. 2 / Trinité du hautbois

I'm still working on finding the right vocabulary to describe my impressions on the various instruments I tried at IDRS 2013. Take a look at really interesting threads on the Oboe BBoard and you'll quickly see how words, when they can be found to describe musical sound, really don't convey the same idea from one person to another! In the mean time, another word on fitting the instrument to the person. Je cherche toujours le vocabulaire pour décrire mes impressions concernant les instruments que j'ai essayés à la conférence IDRS 2013. Jettez un coup d'oeil sur les fils de discussion du Oboe BBoard pour voir que les mots, quand on peut les trouver pour décrire le timbre sonore, ne véhiculent vraiment pas la même idée de personne en personne! Entretemps, un autre mot à propos d'appareiller l'instrument à la personne.
I have been told by a few professionals and oboe makers that my reeds are not stable; this would account for my complaints about tuning. Because of their very high profile, I want to accept their criticism and believe that my reeds need improving.

Problem is, the very same reeds, in the very same geography and weather conditions play perfectly in tune and with full stability in Dupin, Marigaux, Rigoutat, Mönnig/Frank, Fossati, Püchner and Bulgheroni (I think Covey and Howarth too). So a person begins to wonder where criticizing bad reeds should end and criticizing bad instruments might begin.

Je me suis fait dire par quelques professionnels et fabricants que mes anches ne sont pas stables; ce qui expliquerait mes plaintes concernant la justesse. Étant donné le très haut calibre de ces critiques, je veux volontiers accepter leur propos et croire que mes anches profiteraient d'amélioration.

Petit problême: les mêmes anches, dans la même géographie et conditions de météo jouent parfaitement juste et avec pleine stabilité dans un Dupin, Marigaux, Rigoutat, Mönnig/Frank, Fossati, Püchner et Bulgheroni (je crois Covey et Howarth aussi). Alors on se demande à quel point la faute de l'anche cesse et celle de l'instrument commence.
I asked two highly respected professionals, David Walter and Peter Cooper, what they thought about choosing an oboe with respect to the reed or how embouchure and breath should be altered for the instrument. The fact that they both play Marigaux is coincidental, but it is striking that one is “full-European” and the other is “full-American” in style, technique and reeds, yet they both answered the same thing: the instrument, the reed and the musician (person) form a threefold partnership and the trick is to find the combination that works best.

So it’s really not enough to say: “reeds work better this way” or “this instrument is better than that one”… it’s really a matter of experimenting and growing with the reed styles, the instruments and the breathing techniques to find what works best for each person.

Peter Cooper

David Walter
J’ai demandé à deux professionnels grandement respectés, David Walter et Peter Cooper, ce qu’ils pensent à propos de choisir un instrument vis-à-vis l’anche ou comment l’embouchure et le souffle doit être altéré pour un instrument choisi. Le fait que ces deux artistes jouent Marigaux est une coïncidence, mais ce qui frappe est que Walter est complètement européan alors que Cooper est complètement américain en termes de style, technique et anches; pourtant, les deux ont répondu la même chose : l’instrument, l’anche et la personne forment un partenariat et l’astuce est de trouver la combinaison qui va le mieux.

Alors, il n’est pas question de “faire les anches comme ceci” ou “cet instrument est mieux qu’un autre” … c’est vraiment une question d’expérimenter et dénicher ce qui va le mieux à chaque individu.
Playing is believing…
Two funny things really nailed the point that the right instrument/reed setup for one person is not necessarily the right one for another person.
La foi dans le jeu…Deux événements ont solidement fait le point que l'instrument idéal pour une personne ne l'est pas forcément pur une autre.
A Facebook friend of mine brought her ansolutely unique oboe d'amore to the Püchner exhibition to try bocals. One of them produced an F# so flat, it was almost a precise natural: all other notes were fine! Her other friend tried the same instrument+bocal with her own reed: real F#, but tended to sag badly. Then I took the same instrument+bocal (2 of my reeds): PERFECT TUNING over entire range, crystal clear and solid F#!!!

Now, these 2 friends are professionals that play every day in a variety of orchestras and do play d’amores every so often. My only public performances are the home-made You-Tubes I produce every few months, so the problem was not their reeds and certainly NOT because I play better than them: their playing can run circles around mine any day of the week! The issue really was matching the bocal to the person.
Une amie Facebook a apporté son htb. d'amour (absolument unique dans le monde) pour acheter un bocal chez Püchner. L'un d'eux produit un Fa# si bas que c'était presqu’un Fa bécarre juste. Une autre amie a pris l'instrument+bocal avec sa propre anche: vrai Fa#, mais instable et bas. J'ai pris le même instrument+bocal (2 de mes anches): justesse parfaite sur toute la tessiture, aucun signe d'instabilité au Fa#!!!

Maintenant, ces 2 amies sont professionnelles qui jouent dans une variété d’orchestres et jouent le htb. d’amour assez souvent pour en valloir la peine. Mes seules performances publiques sont les productions-domiciles You-Tubes que je fais aux quelques mois, alors la question n’est pas leurs anches et certainement PAS que je puisse être meilleur musicien: leur technique peut enterrer la mienne n’importe quand! La question est vraiment d'apparier le bocal avec l’individu.
Then, a conference buddy up'ed and bought a Mönnig Platinum! Buyers' remorse set in when he noticed that from G to C, the notes were really windy. He asked what I though of his new purchase, so I tried it with a few of my reeds: never the slightest hint of muffle or anything, perfectly clear... absolutely lovely instrument. To complete the evaluation, I handed him my Lorée to see how he fared with it... NOW I STILL have to fight with my Lorée for sound quality and stability... he took it and sounded as great as Sébastien Giot!!!! ... HEY, I offered him a straight exchange: my 28 year old Lorée for his brand-new Gebr. Mön. Platinum.... somehow, he did not accept... go figure... Ensuite, un copain-conférencier a pris la plonge d'acheter un Mönnig Platinum! Le remords du consommateur s'installe avec des notes bruyantes (venteuses) entre le Sol et le Do. Il m'a demandé de lui donner mon avis sur son achat, alors je l'ai essayé avec plusieurs de mes anches : jamais aucun signe de vent, parfaitement clair! Pour terminer l'évaluation, je lui ai passé mon Lorée pour voir la comparaison.. MAINTENANT, je dois toujours me battre contre mon Lorée pour la justesse et le beau timbre: ce copain le prit et sonna aussi bien que Sébastien Giot!!!! Je lui ai offert un échange direct: mon Lorée de 28 ans pour son Gebr. Mön. Platinum flambant neuf.... cherche à comprendre, il ne voulut pas.....


Anonymous said...

Hey Robin!  
You are much too gracious.  Hear me try 'La Favorita' and you would have a very different opinion!  I am envious that you sound better on my Monnig than I do. The low A and B are still fuzzy for me. I notice Albrecht Mayer is buzzy on those same notes.  Maybe you can give him some tips!  My C# is totally clear, so maybe it's all a trade-off.  And I truthfully did like your Loree much more than any of the fancy new ones at the conference.  Maybe you'll trade it for my old Cabart? ;-)

I totally agree with your player/reed/oboe assertion. The one lesson I got from trying out all those oboes is that we each have a very unique, personal experience.  I will forevermore take all recommendations with a pillar of salt. There is no substitute for individually testing oodles of oboes from all the top makers. I'll give my Monnig a year's trial before comparing it to the 2014 selection in New York. I'm especially anxious to retry Marigaux 901 and Josef - either of which I could easily have selected if I hadn't had an unwarranted predisposition against them. 

Keep on blogging!

RobinDesHautbois said...

Thanks for the note Norm!
Well... if Albrecht Mayer saw me playing, he might change his mind about standing like those "Wood Choppers? ... you know, what do you call those people from Canada?"... :-D

The evident favouritism for one oboe maker above others (in North-America) is just plain ridiculous. I've even heard first-hand accounts of conductors (professionals) giving the evil eye or outright telling a player to switch away from their unconventional looking instrument... it seems like there is a conspiracy to keep the oboe looking and sounding as inconspicuous (e.g. absent) as possible, only tolerating solos..... a REAL CONTRAST to Orchestre Radio-France, where you can see/hear (hear very clearly, actually) a Rigoutat and a Josef Anniversary playing side-by-side!

So in the words of my hero Red Green: keep your stick on the ice, I'm pullin' for you, we're all in this together!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we Yanks have often wondered about you bow-legged Canucks ;-).

I've also heard/read those stories. It's beyond me why the orchestral powers-that-be here are still beholden to the century-old dictations of a tyrannical oboist and a conductor with foreign-accent syndrome, when there's a whole world of examples of beautifully expressive playing on a wide variety of brands and reeds. Especially puzzling considering we're supposed to be the land of rugged individualism (as compared to you sissy lumberjacks up there in Wolverine Land!)

Thanks for turning me on to Louise Pellerin. I'm listening to her Handel cd right now. Glorious sound! Already a big influence on me. She's like a smoother version of Douglas Boyd (I highly recommend his Vivaldi cd. Very infectiously energetic). Also reminds me of Stefan Schilli, another favorite. Interestingly, they all play(ed) the Marigaux 901 (three more great reasons to consider this instrument!).


RobinDesHautbois said...

You know, I've conversed with some people who have left Marigaux in favour of Rigoutat or Püchner - usually because of the extra freedom in the instrument - but the Marigaux 901 is a flippin' nice instrument, especially for people who might not play enough to handle ultimate freedom!

The 2000 line only changes the keywork. I don't know the price difference, but right now I consider the keys worthwhile for passages with complex accidentals or lots of altissimo.

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame I didn't realize Puchner was hidden away in that back room. I'll definitely visit them next time.

I was also under the impression the 2001 is the same except for keywork, but the Woodwind & Brasswind site says the 2001 is heavier walled (as in a 'Royal' version of the 901). I don't know if this is the case, but I felt tonal differences between the two.

I love your background photo. I'm off to Arizona and Utah next week for some wild west adventures!