WBJC’s web maestra, Diana Ross, has suggested that we blog about a Top 5 list of some kind, so here I go with my top 5 favorite instruments:
Cello, because it sounds so luscious and sonorous. It has its limitations, to be sure—the cellists can’t stand for the National Anthem at the opening of the arts seasons, for instance, and cellos are not so good for marching bands, as Woody Allen famously and hilariously demonstrated in his movie, “Take the Money and Run.”
French Horn. I have always liked it because, like the cello, it has a warm and mellow sound, and I came to love it when I married my horn playing husband. Over the years I have learned to listen for the horn solos in symphonic works, thanks to him. Think of the slow movement of the 1st serenade by Brahms or the opening solo from Tchaikovsky’s 2nd symphony, for instance–but there are countless examples. (As a side bar, aren’t we lucky to have Phil Munds as the 1st horn of the Baltimore symphony? He wouldn’t know a flubbed note if he fell over it.)
Piano, for the repertoire—what more need I say?
Oboe, especially as a symphonic instrument. I like how the pitch of the whole orchestra hangs on it, for one thing. Its slightly plaintive sound always adds an intriguing musical texture to an orchestral or a chamber ensemble, I think.
The Voice. There is an element of the subjective here because, although I studied cello, voice was my main instrument in the days when I used to make music and not just talk about it. There is something quite magical in the way voices blend—whether it is in an a cappella choir, the tenor and baritone duet in Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers” or the heart stopping trio of the three women’s voices in the last act of Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier”—to say nothing of what Mozart and Verdi achieved.
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