Monday, January 24

Learning from the Masters… electronically!

I had the real pleasure of being “virtually” introduced to a bunch of amazing oboists thalbrechtMayerat I would not have known otherwise. In this blog, I have made much ado of Albrecht Mayer… in fact, I would never have known about him if it weren’t for internet streaming radio and the CBC radio 2’s good habit of giving performance details of their playlists on their web-site.
We are living in a wonderful time where it has become so easy to hear so many performances, but finding these performances assumes you know what to look for… and where! Thanks to You-Tube, Facebook, personal blogs and cynthiaSteljesBill-Boards (discussion groups), I have met many fine people, young, experienced, students, amateurs and professional who have been able to share recordings they have found on the internet. Sometimes, just sharing a name was enough to launch a process of research and discovery.
Redefining Concepts
I can truly say that my concept of playing the oboe, musicianship in general, my concepts of sound and style have changed quite a lot in the past few months. For example, virtuosic (“athletic”) repertoire like Rossini or Pasculli normally alfredoBernardinileave me indifferent at best. However, the playing of Christoph Hartmann and Giovanni di Mauro are very impressive. Clear, crystalline oboe sounds usually rebuff me, but the playing of Malcom Messiter and Heinz Holliger are definitely worth careful study. Normally, there is a crisp separation between the baroque and modern oboes… in fact, in the 1990s and early 2000s it seemed politically incorrect to play baroque repertoire on modern instruments and romantic or impressionist repertoire on baroque or classical replicas were simply unheard of. Thankfully, some superstars are changing that (A.M. for the oboe, but also Nigel KeHHnnedy on the Violin and many others on other instruments). Next time, I’ll put up a list of very odd ways different oboes are being played!
To open some eyes to what can be done with our instrument, take a look at the following:
--- oboe d'amore tango : excellent sound
--- really good modern jazz oboe : Jean-Luc Fillon quintet
--- Great 1960's jazz : “buzzaphone“ in the right place!
--- jazz sounds like a Romanian taragotbartSchneeman
--- not oboe, but REALLY funny (duet or duel?)
When I was a student, recordings were common place, but still expensive and there were simply fewer of them. It was also more difficult to make “discoveries” unless the record store imported on a regular basis. Nowadays, CD's have become much less expensive and public libraries have had time to amass a good collection. I have been going to the Ottawa Public library every week and discovering a wealth of performances, repertoire, ensembles and inspiration all around.francois_leleux
You-Tube doesn’t give the best sound quality, but it sure offers us the ability to hear and compare young and not so young musicians. I have had the pleasure of both sharing my experience to the benefit of others, some less advanced and others more advanced than myself while learning and gaining much from their own questions, answers and recommendations.bust
Helping me play:
All this wealth of exposure has definitely changed the way I perceive music and will hopefully improve performance. Right now, I’m just putting the final touches on the MIDI file that will accompany my 1st recording ever… and mark my return to public performance! Robson_bestpicDoing an arrangement on MIDI file is more work than I would have expected, but it will be well worth the effort considering the versatility in performance styles and orchestration abilities offered by computers.
I have an excellent digital piano that has fantastic orchestral sounds…. but my bleeping PC laptop doesn’t seem to want to communicate with it anymore! I can get the computer speakers to accompany me, but that is a bit of a shame considering. Oh well, I suppose that will just leave doors open for later!

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