|OBOE MAKERS & COMMENTARY|
20th and 21st Centuries BASS OBOES
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Preamble / Disclaimer
The opinions expressed below represent only my experience with various makes and models of oboe family instruments so far. Please keep in mind that how an oboe “takes the air” is different, often vastly different, from player to player. “Your air” is not “my air,” “your scale” is not likely to be “my scale,” your compensations will differ from my compensations, your reed will not be my reed, and your own “personal resonance” will be different from anyone else's “personal resonance” when playing an oboe instrument.
For many years past, collecting and trading oboe instruments, I have had opportunity to take on various makers to represent. I have declined all such opportunities. However, at the 2011 IDRS convention, I came across a make English horn that is in a league of its own, far superior to any other English horn by any other present day maker. The English horn I felt was (by far) the “best in show” at IRDS 2011 is by Puchner, and I have contracted to represent Puchner oboes, oboes d'amore, and English horns in North America. However, please know that my reviews of Puchner instruments below reflect my genuine assessments.
A note about tuners – I will offer the advice of my late friend Wally Bhosys, oboist with the Metropolitan Opera in the 1950s–1970s. It is not possible to separate the observer from the observed when playing to an electronic tuner. Simply put, playing to a tuner will produce completely arbitrary results. The only use possible good use for a tuner would be to test the length of a reed or bocal to establish a comfortable A. Beyond this, trust your own ears.
Subject to change!
CABART - Yikes ! AVOID !
FOSSATI - Worth a look.
FRANK und MEYER - no information yet.
HINIKER - In development. Will likely be a revelation in the realm of bass oboe. L-o-n-g waiting list.
LOREE - The modern Loree bass oboe (post 1970)- some examples good, a few excellent, though some will be very stuffy or exhibit major voicing anomalies. Use Hiniker bocals. Best to find "pre-war" Loree bass oboe, especially from the 1930s, having a BIG, resonant, ethereal sound. The low register of a "pre-war" Loree bass oboe can almost mimic the timbre of a Heckelphone. The pre-war Loree circa 1930s is a completely different concept/design from the post-war Loree, and is vastly superior. However the earliest Loree bass oboes were often "seat of the pants" affairs with respect to engineering/design and can be marginal at best. Beware: some of the Loree bass oboe made before about 1915 will not be pitched at A=440. Some of the pre- 1915 Loree bass oboes can not be made to play in tune in modern ensemble even using a very long bocal. The newest Loree bass oboes (say post 2000) seem to be excellent overall.
MARIGAUX - Reputed to be very good.
RIGOUTAT - Some stuffy, unyielding.
WOLF - "LUPOPHON" to low F EXCELLENT! Sounds nearly like a Heckelphone About half the price of a Heckelphone. Beautifully made, voicing is perfect. Full Conservatory system, though because of the distance between left hand and right hand positions, some players will attempt to use saxophone fingerings at first.
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