Monday, December 21, 2015

Exit interview with a veteran player

Michele Zukovsky, who just retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic after 54 years, most of them as its principal clarinetist, talks with blogger CK Dexter Haven about the changes that orchestras have gone through in her career.

Symphonic performance has become more generic, she finds:

“I used to have a vast collection of [recordings of] Beethoven symphonies, and I put together my ideal Beethoven 9th, movement by movement. It was like Mengelberg, Furtw√§ngler, and two others that were perfect.

“That tradition has been diluted through the years. You’re not looking necessarily at the way Brahms did it when he was alive, we’re not going to hear or feel the way Brahms did it in the 1890s. It’s not being passed down very much longer.

“Now, you’ve got these great young performers doing Vivaldi violin concertos where they’re making it a whole new thing. It’s like alive and they’re improvising. It doesn’t have to be the way Vivaldi did it, and they’re phenomenal and I can feel it. That’s the way we’re going now.

“Music can be very boring now when you’re just trying to repeat the same old thing over and over instead of making it your own. Now, even with the period instrument orchestras, they’re starting to all sound the same. I used to listen to [recordings] and could tell within the first three downbeats who the conductor was and where the orchestra was from. Now, not so much.”

Zukovsky’s full interview, in two parts:

Part 1:

Part 2: