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Topic: I hate, hate, hate, hate Boston Symphony!

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-05-2007

I juts hate that band.

I hate everything about them – their tone, their sound, their idiotic Tanglewood, did I mention the BSO brass! The BSO during 30s and 40s was the orchestra that not only was able to play but was able to play phenomenally. Nowadays, they are juts a bunch of the overplayed hoodlums (the most paid orchestra in US) who performance after performance keep screwing consents and annoy me even more then CNN news… I do not know what it is about BSO. Is it some kind of orchestral internal ingredient, or perhaps the 29 years of the Seiji Osawa’s moronization but my lead hometown orchestra keep insulting me week after week. I have to admit that when James Levine come over in Boston the BSO hade a few better performances but  then begin they slide back to nothingness..

I am listening now the “live” Tanglewood broadcast with BSO lead by assistant Ludovic Morlot. The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto played by Stefan Jackiw. What a phenomenal play from Mr. Jackiw and how the freaking BSO keep raping the performance! Sometimes they sound like the orchestra is trying to play a different concerto!!!

What a sad thing…
The cat

Posted by Paul S on 08-05-2007
I am sorry to say that I have sat through very few symphonic or opera performances in San Diego, even when the price of the seats made me feel bad about leaving, too.

I did hear what seemed at the time to be a wonderfully-inspired (if not technically topping) SD Opera performance of Orpheus in the Underworld while driving home from a family gathering quite late at night, ie, I was listening via my car radio.  I suppose I ought to look into getting a tape or CD from the radio station, although fatigue (and earlier intake of alcohol) might have factored into my perceptions at the time.

A while back, Romy asked if there was "insurance" available against a certain supposed-to-be-poor performance.

I have long considered and weighed the possible or even likely waste of time and money against the possible joy of immersion in something wonderful, or even something short of wonderful.
For many years I was an ardent and active supporter of community arts, and I paid the price; but these days, I am ashamed to say that I often choose more recordings in lieu of spending on local fare.

I have read all about recent generous gifts to the finally-better-than-solvent local Symphony; but so far the buzz has not become a roar in my circles, and, as Romy observed, there seem to be places that get more while paying far less.

I don't have answers; I just miss the old LA Philharmonic.


Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by dazzdax on 08-05-2007

Some people say the BSO is the most "European" sounding US orchestra. Well, when listening to the recordings of the orchestra under the baton of Charles Münch it sounds truly wonderful and... indeed like a fine European orchestra. The Deutsche Grammophon recordings with the Ravel and Debussy orchestral pieces with Pierre Boulez are also very good. I must admit though, I had a recording of Sibelius 5th symphony with Colin Davis (yes, the famous Philips recording) in which the playing of the BSO was quite sloppy, especially in the crucial first movement (the part with the French horns). But even top symphony orchestra's experience less inspirational moments from time to time.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-05-2007

Koussevitzky 1924-1949

Beethoven 2, 3, 5, Egmont
All Brahms
Mendelssohn 4
All Mozart
All Scriabin
All Shostakovich
All Prokofiev
All Sibelius
All Rachmaninoff
Tchaikovsky 4
Haydn # 94
Strauss  Don Juan
Liszt  Mephisto

Munch 1949-1973

Schubert  2, 8, 9
Ravel  Daphnis
Chausson Symphony
Saint Saens 3
Tchaikovsky with Szeryng
Bloch Cello with  Piatigorsky
Berlioz Harold in Italy
Brahms 2 and 4
Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev Violin with Heifetz
Beethoven 3
Dvorak Cello with Piatigorsky
Elgar Serenade
Rachmaninoff 3 with Janis
Franck D Symphony
Mendelssohn Symphony
Debussy La Mer
Walton Cello with Piatigorsky
Berlioz Requiem and Fantastique

I hardly remeber anything good from Ozawa. The begging of his service with BSO was positive (reportedley) but I hardly can recall any recording that I know. The same is with Levine since he took the BSO.

The Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-10-2007

If you are interested in “better” BSO recordings then here is a  wonderful site that that list BSO recordings. The wonderful about this site that it has the catalog of the Transcription Trust’s broadcasts as well as the know “live” off-the-air recordings:

From 1973:

"The BSO Transcription Trust recordings and broadcasts use condenser microphones: a main array of four omnidirectional mikes, plus a cardioid accent mike for soloists when concertos are played, plus a supercardioid accent mike for the woodwinds (especially flutes). The accent mikes are mixed in at a typical level of 15 dB below the main mikes. Of the main mikes, the front pair are Neumann SM-23s and the rear pair are KM-56s; the soloist mike is a KM-54 and the woodwind mike is a Sennheiser "shotgun." As of February 1973 the rear main mikes and the soloist mike are being changed to Neumann KMS4s. The rear mikes are' about 10 feet from the front mikes (diagonally back and up). Concerts are dubbed simultaneously on several recorders: 4-chapel discrete with Dolby A on an Ampex 440; 4-channel discrete without Dolby on an Ampex 440; 4-channel SQ matrixed on a 2-channel Revox and 4-channel QS matrixed on a 2-channel Revox. Also straight 2-channel dubs are done on a Revox. The sound is of course also relayed via phone lines to WCRB (whose phone line is Dolbyized) and to WGBH. The quality off the phone lines is typically poor in the fall, better later in the winter and spring."

The Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-19-2007

I do not know how “extraordinary experience” it will be but the BSO for the first time with Levine went to European Festivals Tour. The Brits, French and Germans will be able to catch it.

The caT

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 08-27-2007
Well, he had his moments; among them:

Mahler 8 at T'wood (c. 1974)

Mahler 3 at SH & T'wood (c. 2001)

Bartok Concerto for Orch (c. 1971)

I'm sure there were more!

As for recordings, he has a really, really fine Mendelssohn's Midsummer, an excellent Beethoven 5th (although I've only heard the last two movements), and a very passable Mahler 1.

Again, I'm sure there must be more! I mean, after 27 years...


Posted by clarkjohnsen on 08-27-2007
It's owner/manager happens to be well known to me: Kevin Mostyn.


Posted by Paul S on 09-09-2007
I have been rooting around looking for recordings and of course I scanned the "good BSO recordings" list.  Charles Munch actually quit the BSO in early 1962, and I think I remember he died around the time I was married, 1968.  I love his Franck D Minor, one of which I  have, that I understood was one of the last things he did with the BSO.  I sometimes feel disembodied when I listen to this work.  The RCA stereo LP (Victrola) of this is better than most of its ilk, although mine needs a good cleaning.  Anyway, I agree it is "good", for sure, BSO or not, and I am not loathe to "recommend" recordings.

Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-14-2007
If you feel that this play was sensational only in 1917 then you are very wrong. BSO can not even closely nowadays to play like this.

(9 Meg file)

Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-14-2007
I very much degree with many comment made but still if a view from the first hands.

(13 Meg file)

The caT

Posted by Romy the Cat on 11-19-2007
 Romy the Cat wrote:
I hardly remeber anything good from Ozawa. The begging of his service with BSO was positive (reportedley) but I hardly can recall any recording that I know. The same is with Levine since he took the BSO.
I have to admit that I love to hate BSO but here and then I come across some something the make good lessons….

In dismember of 1985 Seiji Ozawa lead BSO with Rostropovich playing Dvorak’s concerto. I have seen this records countless amount of times but lead by my “dislike of BSO and Ozawa” I never even care to listen it.

Recently WGBH broadcasted that performance in their serial “Greatest BSO recordings” – what a play BSO showed up!!!

Rgs, the caT

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-06-2008

What the show BSO put out this week! It was a real treat.

Levine lead Boston Symphony and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in open air (Koussevitzky Music Shed) with entire two days production of  Berlioz's Les Troyens . The BSO this time was just wonderful. Here is a 90Meg fragment in 44/20 of the today’s BSO Sound. Bravo, James Levine, Bravo, BSO. When it’s good then it is good! It's after 5 hours of play....

The Cat

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 07-07-2008
Part One (on Saturday) was especially fine, even better than the Symphony Hall broadcast I heard. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus is incomparable!

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-07-2008

I have to admit that I do not like the trip to Tanglewood – sitting for hours at the damn turnpike exit is not my definition of fun. The few times I was in Tanglewood I never was able to get the sits where I appreciate sound a strange place for to listen music.

I scheduled the Saturday live recording from WCRB and Sunday broadcast from WGBH, I never was able to get WCRB from my location with the level of quality sufficient to record it but this time the Rohde & Schwarz broadcast relay did the magic.

It was not exactly the music that I know and my initial interest was about the recording but listening the BSO play I was more and more sucked into the work and ended up listening up to 4AM on Sunday- it was stunningly good!  You are right the Tanglewood Chorus was out of this word, the singers were phenomenal; the Levine is unquestionably the most able opera conductor alive and the Boston sounds like nothing else. The paste with which the orchestra was drifted across this Tanglewood opened spates was nothing short of brilliant. It was so harmonic and so mnatural that I would say I never heard BSO played like this in Tanglewood. It is imposable to get this lash sound from a Chorus in closed space. The voices do not mix in closed space properly; the notes pops up from Chorus and then we as the unfortunate result have the morons-electricians to “fix” it all via DSP during the stupid “mastering” stage. Here it was 5 light years away – it was LIVE and it was large chorus in semi-open air… BTW, the microphone balance was exceptionally good. It is so rare situation when audio element did not vaoleted but rather benefited the glory of the performance – and boy, what a performance!!! BTW, stop by another day - if you behave I would play to you this broadcast to show off how FM might be done.

Anyhow, in august Levin lead BSO and Tanglewood Chorus with Onegin. I should not mention that I adore the Pushkin opera and the interaction between cello section and chorus from beginning of the second act is one of the most stunning and difficult “to do right” pieces of music that I know on opera. So far only Khakin was able to do it right in 1955 – not one else even dear to do play like this. I would LOVE to see what Levin would do with BSO and Tanglewood Chorus. I have Levin’s Onegin on Tape from MET 1980s and it was not very good. Let see what happen now – after the Trojans I am VERY excited.

BTW, as the courtesy to French folks: if the French-speaking GoodSoundClubers would like to have a copy in 88/24 then let me know and I would be happy send you. This is not the Georges Bizet’s gay paradise musical entertainment – this is the truly great piece of French opera – your will be proud for your cousins…

Rgs, the Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-09-2008

 Romy the Cat wrote:
Anyhow, in august Levin lead BSO and Tanglewood Chorus with Onegin.

 This morning on my way to my client, in subway, I was reading Metro newspaper and they said that James Levine will not be to the end of this season at Tanglewood as he is going to a kidney removing surgery. It looks like he will be back in September for MET opening. Very sad news indeed. I wish to Levine to do well in his medial sabbatical, I hope he will be with us active as productive as long as possible…

The caT

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 07-09-2008

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 07-09-2008
...The Damnation of Faust all grown up and much wiser.

With that Levine/BSO concert at Tanglewood, I should say that Trojans has now entered the rarefied world of the Ring, Mozart's Da Ponte trilogy, Fidelio, and of course Verdi and Puccini.

Carmen does have its moments though, especially in the Glyndebourne production.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-10-2008

 clarkjohnsen wrote:
With that Levine/BSO concert at Tanglewood, I should say that Trojans has now entered the rarefied world of the Ring, Mozart's Da Ponte trilogy, Fidelio, and of course Verdi and Puccini.

Actually it is a very good point and I would agree that Levine/BSO concert at Tanglewood “could” be an excellent propelling point to make Berlioz's Les Troyens as the accepted and fashionable  repertoire as the Ring. I can see now clearly that “Les Troyens” does have the value that I would never recognize without what I heard from the Tanglewood event. However, I said “could be an excellent propelling point” not the “will be an excellent propelling point”. The difference between “could” and “will” is in the opportunities of the Tanglewood even to become public and this is a very big and complex subject. I do not know if the Levine’s Tanglewood endeavor from last well will be released publicly – there are so many artificial of sometimes idiotic reasons why it might not take place. Even if it were released than the question would be how it would be marketed – there is a different if it was the small scale local Tanglewood-level label (I have some of them) vs. the main EMI/DG release, sponsored by main publications and marketing spieling . That all will impact the success of the “Les Troyens”.

The problem that I see that industry (and I sell not remind you that the in my vocabulary the word “industry” is insulting word) owns the recording, or they believe that they do. I am sure they will not loose a chance to fuck up whatever they own.  From this perspective my proposal of the alternative audio:

Sound to me as a very liberating way of looking at the music distribution…

Rgs, The Cat

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 07-10-2008
I learned The Trojans from its first stereo (and first complete too I recall) recording by Colin Davis. It was a rather cool affair, as studio recordings are wont to be, so I never realized how hot the music actually is until this year's Symphony Hall performances.

And then there was Tanglewood.

How to get it out? In these days downloading seems the way to go, but the BSO hasn't yet taken that step. Until about twenty years ago WCRB was playing frequent rebroadcasts all through the year, but that has ceased. Forget "EMI/DG".

A few groups have done well issuing private label CDs, notably the (great, great) Borromeo Quartet and the Colorado Mahlerfest. Rock and pop bands have even developed means to sell CDs after the concerts, of that very concert!

WGBH has extensive archives of terrific performances recorded in their studios, as well as around town -- never to be heard again.

What symphony orchestras and classical-music groups in general need is indeed a "liberating way of looking at the music distribution".


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