Getting (and keeping) it together

You’ve studied the score, understood the ‘topography’ of the piece, decided on the ‘correct’ tempo for each movement, and so on. Now it’s time to put the whole thing together and, working with the orchestra, sort out details of articulation, dynamic, ensemble and balance, and how to negotiate any difficult corners that the work presents.

Here, as an example – and in Tchaikovsky’s own hand – is the oboe solo that opens the second movement of his fourth symphony:

Notice how finicky the composer has been about the phrasing, articulation and dynamic of this melody. It would be the brave conductor who chose to ignore what Tchaikovsky has so painstakingly written.

So, here are two, rather different, results of the rehearsal process described above, one Russian and one American: which conductor/oboist pair do you think comes closest to the composer’s intentions?

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And then there’s the question of timbre…

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