Re: Orchesral Tubists

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Posted by John on January 22, 1999 at 01:22:17:

In Reply to: Orchesral Tubists posted by Josh on January 21, 1999 at 22:45:30:

I feel that this is a rather open ended question. Ever musician will have there own opinion on this one, and the important thing is to realize that it's ok not to think Jacobs is the greatest ever, or that Gene is the current reigning god of the big horn. When making the decision about one's favorite player in an orchestral setting, I feel people should be judged on the MUSIC they make while sitting in the last row. Listen to recording, go here the great ones in concert - no matter what it costs- and then listen to more recordings. Take a break, and lsten more. I guarantee you if you listen carefully, especially in regards to the music being made by the tubist, you'll eventually have some favorites.
Now, here's my two cents (which I know will offend a lot of people). Arnold Jacobs was the best in his prime ('40s-'70s). He had his rivals though, such as John Fletcher of the LSO. He made a lot of music and revolutionized the way tubists played in orchestras. Much honor and respect is due to that great man. Is he the greatest of all time- I don't think anyone is. Jake wasn't perfect, no one is. There were times during the Solti years when the CSO low brass didn't make nearly the amount of music they were capable of (as they did under Reiner) because they were playing way too loud. Alot of those Mahler and Bruckner recordings with Solti and crass, sloppy, and out of control. The Reiner recording on the other hand are gems to be cherished (as well as the Kubelik CSO recording of the same era).
For my favorite current tubist, it's a toss up. Gene Porkorny is amazing. His chops are as incredible as his sound. He just isn't as musical as Floyd Cooley, I think. People are blown away be the amount of sound Gene puts out, and overlook some of the finer nuances in orchestral tuba playing. Floyd plays much softer most of the time, since as anyone who's ever been to Davies in SF can attest to, that hall is VERY active, and louder that the CSO hall. Floyd can play just as loud, in the CSO, as Gene, as demonstrated when he recorded Verdi's requiem with them in '92.
Another favorite of mine is Warren Deck. Always musical, always technically flawless (except for that blip in the first mvt of the '95 Prok. 5 w/ Masur), Warren just plays too loud a lot of the time. Though he has moments of tasteful glory, such as the '91 Bruckner 7 w/ Masur. He is an amazing musician, not to be overlooked in any contest such as this.
I can suggest listening enough. Listen to the recording mentioned above, as well as, any others of those orchestras in those eras. Listen to the best recordings, with only top orchestras and top conductors. You'll get much more out of the music that way. The best may be still to come, but there are several to chose from, all with strengths and weaknesses. Pick your favorite if you like, but don't down the others.

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