Do certain orchestral pieces benefit from an antiphonal seating of the violin sections? Does it allow for greater transparency across the string sections? I remember that the Boston Symphony had this seating for a short time under James Levine. I believe orchestras use it in recording certain pieces.
I found this text,
The Bach "Double" will benefit from split violin sections!
The common modern set-up is convenient for the conductor; it matches what he sees on the score; 1 vln, 2 vln, vla, cello.
It really depends on the composer!
A lot of music was written for that seating--Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler--putting the two violin sections together was a 20th century innovation and had to do with recording technology of the time.
I had never seen antiphonal orchestra seating until I attended a concert of the Adelaide (AU) symphony in 1987. I thought it seemed to muffle the 2nd violin sound some - but where I was sitting in the 2nd balcony spoiled a lot more sound than that.
That's a good point about the f-holes, Andrew. I like to hear the lower tones some more. Interesting insights and links everybody. I think Elgar's music benefits from an antiphonal arrangement. I'm thinking of his Enigma variations and Violin Concerto - the multi-layered string parts. I would prefer to hear the Bach Double with the first and seconds separated!
Andrew - adding a viola section is like peeing in your pants: Nobody sees it, nobody hears it , but it gives that nice warm feeling......
Getting back to the topic: many years ago we used that seating in our local youth orchestra with the cellos and seconds swopping place. Part of that time I was the leader of the seconds and quite liked the setup. But some music is obviously written with a different setup in mind - the melody moving through the orchestra from basses to cellos to violas to seconds to firsts and with that setup it becomes more of a jumping around than a smooth move.
Bo, I can't stop laughing.
Always happy to provide that nice warm feeling. It's like musical friendship, the glue that holds everything together.
Surely - earlier music was often antiphonal, with seconds answering firsts, whereas later symphonies (Brahms, Tchaikovsky) often have firsts and seconds in octaves. For the latter, it helps the firsts having the seconds next to them.
Tchaikovsky symphonies do often have the violin sections in octaves, but Brahms symphonies have quite a bit of antiphonal writing in them--just think of letter B in the first movement of the 2nd symphony.
Jacob, if you REALLY can't stop laughing, you might end up giving yourself that nice warm feeling ...
Maybe I'm old-school, but I'm pretty anti-phonal in orchestra. Those millennials are always checking their phones. Funny thing is, they think they can hide it by ducking down behind their stand.
I've just returned from vacation (blog
If you can convince the second violins to play left handed, you get an amazing sound!