When I was young, it was abundantly clear that certain combinations of orchestras and their music directors had a unique sound. Whether it was Toscanini and the NBC, Ormandy and Philadelphia, or Karajan and Berlin, among so many others, these partnerships were celebrated for how distinct they were. No one paid much attention to the repertoire being performed, as long as they could recognize who was playing it.
Times have changed. Period performance practice is becoming more regular on recordings and in the concert hall. Orchestras comprise musicians from more diverse cultural backgrounds than ever before. It is my belief that in many cases, we are losing some of the individual personality that made the great orchestras, well—great.
What questions do you have about how things have changed or if we are going in the right direction?