Sunday, October 28, 2007

CSO vs LA Phil; gender balances

Friday night I had the good fortune to catch the last of the Sibelius Unbound series at the LA Phil. They played symphonies 5 & 6, beautifully. They're taking all 7 symphonies on tour next week. It's funny, within the same week I've heard two top orchestras play music to which they are most suited while in top form. I mean, Chicago is all about Mahler and always has been, and they'd just returned from a tour when I heard them. LA plays a lot of Sibelius because of their Finnish music director, and they're just about to leave on tour. They're very different orchestras, and I must say the LA Phil has a huge ally in Walt Disney Concert Hall. It has a much warmer sound, and they don't have to struggle to project. Plus I'm a still a little bitter that I had to be on the main floor under the overhang in Symphony Center in Chicago. I wanted to try and move at intermission, but it was too well-sold. I mean, that's a good thing, I suppose, but still, I hate being under the overhang.

Also of interest: both orchestras have recently hired new principal oboists. One was even in the finals for the other. I think Eugene Izotov sounds beautiful and is a great fit with the CSO. I'm not as familiar with LA, but perhaps a younger player suites this youth-obsessed town and its orchestra, while the CSO continues to have a somewhat good-ol'-boys atmosphere to it. Well, they've finally hired a female horn player, which they haven't had since Gail left, but she's the only female brass player. And I was happy to see that their new principal percussionist is a woman, and she got to hit the sledgehammer in Mahler 6 :) The only women in the woodwinds remain concentrated in the flute section, although upper strings have a good gender balance. It will be interesting to see who wins the English horn and principal clarinet positions at the CSO.


Unknown said...

All true, but don't forget that both orchestras are led by women, both of whom are named Deborah.

Gabrielle said...

true. i guess i don't think of the administration in the same way as the performers, since their paths to their jobs are quite different. as is the job itself.