Friday, January 21

Oboes and Technology around the world!

I was just preparing two posts: one on being inspired by masters old and new and one on using computer technology to help playing, be it as a student or as an amateur. But this You-Tube link was made known to me  and I just had to blog about it right away.

Also, clik on the "next" video of his audition (click here). His is the only video I looked at... but I will remedy that shortly for sure!

Apart from his impeccable tuning and even tone, I was struck by his instrument. Take a look at his bell... kind of looks Viennese, or like a Dupin Imperial, but the top joint is as standard as they get! His bio says that he is Canadian, but very multi-national... I have met a lot of these people in Ottawa and Montreal, I kind of like the idea that our country is being defined by people who choose to live here, who adopt our values but who bring their experience and culture from all over the world. We are the Canadian Mosaic where a larger beautiful picture is emerges from the distinct little pieces who conserve their identity: our history is built of our past glories (thank God they are beginning to surface!) and remaining alive in an ever evolving society.

Anyway, this You-Tube orchestra is AT LAST an example of what Internet technology,in fact all computer technology, had been promising for 20 years: to bring people together and share the wealth of culture, thoughts and experience. For so long it seemed that Walkmans, MP3 players, home theatres and video games were isolating us more and more from our surroundings. Well, this is still true in terms of our immediate surroundings (people don't realize your presence on the bus when their ear-phones take all their attention), but at least these blogs and social media are beginning to connect us in a more useful and inspiring way.

But back to his instrument: this makes me realise how very little any one city knows about the makers all around the world. I have mentioned a few makers, outstanding for their innovation, but there are definitely many more well known whose instruments may be just as or more fitting. There are probably many more less well known who deserve to be known too.

But I have to wonder, if so many makers are making so many different excellent instruments, does it really matter which one is chosen in the end? Maybe there are a number of them that form "equivalence classes" in categories that could be defined. Maybe its a little bit like automobiles: they are all improving so much it becomes difficult to say one is better than the other. For example, I was thoroughly convinced I'd buy a Hyundai while saving for the next one to be a Nissan, but I ended up buying a Ford - no compromise at all, I love it and might very well get a bigger Ford next time around!

At any rate, I hope this You-Tube Orchestra proves interesting to all.


Emmanuel Danan said...

Thank you for the compliments, Robin :-)

I was actually born in Canada, but grew up in France and moved to Israel when I was 10. I've never seen much of Canada... would love to go back someday!

As for the instrument, it's Ludwig Frank's "Brilliant" model. It's a fantastic instrument... Frank is really a master of his craft! It's on the heavy side, quite like Laubin instruments, but has amazing qualities. I've been playing it for 2 years, and I can't imagine playing anything else.

And about instrument choices - there really are differences of quality: Is the wood aged long enough? How's the handcraft? The mechanic? the finishing? If the company makes 1500 oboes a year, most chances you'll have to look real hard for a good one. If on the other hand they sell 60 instruments a year, you can be sure every piece is their best.
There are also differences of tone and intonation between the different makers. If you listen closely, you canrecognize Loree/Marigaux/Rigoutat just from recordings.
But in the end, it's not the instrument alone but the whole mixture of staple-shape-scraping-instrument that makes the difference. It's all about finding that elusive perfect mixture :-) I've heard people play on instruments I would call "CRAP" and sound fantastic. It seems almost all oboists look for it all there lives, always changing and perfecting.

I hope you enjoyed the Youtube Symphony concert! We had a blast :-D

p.s: your blog looks really interesting... I just stumbled upon it and will keep reading!

RobinDesHautbois said...

Merci des compliments au retour, Emmanuel! From you, this is very meaningful.

My blog is in English because the great majority of my readers are anglophone, but I am French-Canadian (québécois devenu ontarien), so feel free to correspond in French. (Ich lerne auch Deutsch, also Sie können mir auf Deutsch zu schreiben.)

The final concert of the YTSO 2011 was simply outstanding, on par with Berlin under Karajan in terms of technique and ensemble quality. It's too bad you will not stay together and mature as an ensemble.

Some people thought you play a Josef (Japan) because of the strange bell... I have not seen these bells on Ludwig Frank's web-site, but I get the impression he sells his instruments through Gebr. Mönning (am I wrong?).

Have you played Josef or Dupin (Impérial)? I ask because these are less likely to be present at the convention of IDRS 2012, which I hope to go. I really want to get an amazing instrument to complement my Lorée.... but it needs to be far superior.

Thanks again for your presence!

Emmanuel said...

Thank you, we had a blast! :-)

Frank doesn't sell his instrument through Mönnig, but the other way around. Mönnig have a very nice fabrique in the south where they make approximately 1500 instruments a year. Frank on the other hand works in one house in Berlin, and all instruments are made by 3 people only, Ludwig being the only one allowed to do wood work. The resulting 60 instruments a year have an astonishingly high standard of quality. There is a 6-8 months waiting list, and when you get an instrument you don't get to pick between 3-10 different ones - your instrument was made specifically for you specifically (he even takes into account which instrument you come from and your special requests). I have yet to see someone who returned an oboe and demanded to get a different one.

I've never played Josef for any length of time, but the 2 I've had in my hands where extremely tempting! I know they are played in the Gewandhaus Leipzig (amongst many) and all over Asia. I hear they have a new model which would be very interesting. I think they even might be a better choice for you based on your back problems: Frank oboes are h-e-a-v-y . I myself need to keep to a training regiment to stay out of back and shoulder trouble.
Josef are lighter, and their sounds is absolutely charming... The reason I didn't buy one, was that I was looking for an oboe to grow into (after playing a light loree, I wanted something fatter), and when trying Josef oboes I could already sense where the limits were. The Frank oboe is the only one where I felt "Damn those are big shoes!". It took me more than a year to really "fill" that instrument.

I don't know much about Dupin... they're the main choice in Denmark and Sweden, and are supposed to be also very good, with a dark sound (for those who love Loree, it might be a good idea to try and compare). Christoph Hartmann from the Berlin Phil. also plays one.

I would stay away from Loree, Marigaux and Rigoutat. All three make very good instruments, but the quality is very irregular and you need to get lucky. When making over 1000 instruments a year, there's no time to let the wood age like smaller makers do, and the quality checks are not at the same level. Wollenweber (Berlin Phil.) told me that he loves Marigaux and he won't consider switching, even if it means that sometimes the instrument must be replaced after 3-4 years because it's changed/gone bad.

Say, how about a Laubin?

RobinDesHautbois said...

Ohhhhhh sheeezzzzz.... you REALLY make me want an L.F. or a Dupin..... I find Christoph Hartman's sound very "easy flowing", but still bright.

I am on the waiting list for a Laubin Rosewood (7 years for a grenadilla, 9 years for a rosewood). I only remember trying one over 10 years ago - and only for a few seconds. I don't remember the details, but I do remember how amazed I was by how easily it played, compared to many Lorées and Yamahas I had used. When D. Teitelbaum (finisher at Laubin) revoiced my Lorée, reaming the bell, the difference is just astonishing!

Oboe forums describe Laubin's tuning as impeccable, its sound as almost as round and dark as Marigaux and its expressiveness 2nd to none..... unless you know Hiniker, another U.S.A. "artisanal" maker. I really hope to be able to try these again soon, hopefully an exhibiting vendor will bring some to IDRS 2012.

RobinDesHautbois said...

Also, I seriously and sincerely encourage you (and all musicians) to follow a regimen of physical fitness whether your instrument is heavy or not..... conditions like mine are preventable in many, many cases.

Sheryl said...

Hello, I've been reviewing this site and just wanted to make a comment. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the Hiniker oboe. I am on the waiting list for a Hiniker. My decision was based on recommendations. However, I have only owned Lorees. I would love to try some other makes of oboes. I may have to attend IDRS 2012. I was impressed with Emmanuel's playing, I love the sound of that particular oboe. Some oboes have lost the vibrant sound I enjoy due to trying to make the oboes sound darker or warmer. This particular oboe has a dark, warm tone, but it isn't dull, it still has a full, vibrant tone, but not too bright sounding.

RobinDesHautbois said...

Hello Sheryl! And thanks so much for stopping by!

The best places to ask are the Oboe BBoard ( and Peter Hurd (

For the BBoard, do a search for "Hinicker" because several threads have discussed it in huge detail, comparing it to Laubin, Marigaux and of course Lorée.

I think Peter is best friends with Hinicker, but in any case, his collection of old and new instruments and the care he devotes to the instrument will provide a fair assessment.

As far as I can tell, it has all the quality of tuning and grace of the Laubin with the ease of blowing of the Marigaux and a slightly more American sound (closer to Lorée). Apparently, Hinicker also has a couple of alternate keys (e.g. left-hand Db) that seem to have been neglected by the other big makers.

I'm on the list for a Laubin, but I really hope to go try actual Ludwig Franks along with Marigaux etc. in Europe in a couple of years.

Best of luck and keep me posted!

RobinDesHautbois said...

Hello again Sheryl, I hope you get notified of this follow-up.

Emmanuel plays an actual Ludwig Frank, who makes the oboes played by Albrecht Mayer (Mönning 150, Platinum). Ludwig Frank oboes (as opposed to the Mönnings) are hand-made by Frank himself and you have to order one directly. Ingo Goritzki plays Ludwig Frank and so does Gregor Witt (

Sheryl said...

Hello Robin, thanks for responding. I spoke a couple of times with Emmanuel via facebook and found out that he has the Brilliant model (also seen it spelled Brillant). I contacted Ludwig Frank and was told he'd have some intruments at IDRS this year. So sad I don't think I can go though, even though I live in Western NY and the drive wouldn't be that bad. I missed the early registration and I hate to pay the extra money just to go for one day, but I really would like to check it out. I'm also still on the waiting list for a Hiniker oboe. Such a tough decistion. I would really love to try an L.F. I currently play a Laubin Royal. Both you and Emmanuel have been wonderful regarding posting comments and writing replies. It's nice to communicate with such courteous people. Anyhow, I will have to remember to check this site from time to time.

RobinDesHautbois said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RobinDesHautbois said...

"Laubin Royal"?
I'm planning on going to N.Y. next time Marigaux and/or Frank go to visit (usually in the winter).
=> any way we can meet and I can try that legendary Laubin?
I'm on the waiting list for a Rosewood Laubin (8 years left).

Sheryl said...

Oopsy, did I say Laubin Royal? Must have been a Freudian slip lol, I meant Loree Royal. I had Laubin on my mind because it was also a consideration.