Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Can't win them all...

Last week I got into grad school at GMU, this week I got rejected from Temple. I'm not surprised, obviously, and as you may recall I wasn't thrilled with the school, but I can't help being a little disappointed anyways. Oh well.

Yesterday I had rehearsal with the Waynesboro Symphony. I was just about late because I had to get gas, and then I forgot that it was in a different (farther away) city, and then I almost got lost. But it turned out all right, because I was set up before tuning. Tomorrow I will get there 20 minutes early. I hadn't had the music before rehearsal, so luckily it's all pretty easy, with the exception of one fairly tricky passage in Shubert's Unfinished Symphony. It's a community orchestra, so some of the sections are a little rough, but everyone seems enthusiastic and musical and like they're having fun, so hey. Who am I to argue with people getting to play in an orchestra? I do have one comment, though, and that is that they're playing enough music for practically two concerts. Two marches, Blue Danube Waltz, Clair de la Lune, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, and Shubert's Unfinished Symphony. Whew. Now that's a workout. The concerts are this weekend, and there's a dress on Thursday. I get to play first for that, so that should be pretty fun.

My Bax quintet rehearsals continue, and we sound pretty darn good, at least on the third movement. Granted, we've yet to do more than run through the first and second movements, but seeing as we're playing the third at a "lunchbox recital" in, oh, three weeks, it's good that the third is the easy movement to put together. I was struck today by how much easier my part is when put together with the strings; there's a super low, fast, staccato tongued passage which, when played by me alone, neatly showcases every flub and crack, but which, when played with strings, sounds like lovely and clever writing. Also, at least in the first and third movements, breathing becomes much simpler when there are other players.

Speaking of my recital, I'm thinking of putting both my program notes, once they've been edited, and the longer mini-papers from which I'll be taking them, up here. There really is very little information about oboe works on the internet (in fact, I've had this blog come up several times when searching pieces, which really tells you something about how little there is), and I know that when I'm researching a piece, program notes are among the most helpful resources. So if you're curious what I've been working on all semester, you'll get to see it at some point.

This has been a week of Reed Woes (after 6 bad reeds out of 7 from a 10-piece batch of cane...), but I've finally gotten a new one working, one of those that actually plays well the second day you work on it AND which needs no further touch-ups, and tomorrow I'm going to make up those other three pieces. (Actually, that new reed could do with a touch of tweaking, but, well, considering my luck the past few days, I'm afraid to touch it with anything resembling a knife. It's got a fairly long tip with a considerable burr on the end, which is not nearly how I usually make my reeds, but, although its a little flat and temperamental in some hard to pin down way, it seems to be working.) Also, hopefully the school's gouger will be returned, fixed, soon and I will get to start using all of that tube cane that I bought back in the fall.

I read the section on oboe in Berlioz's orchestration treatise, and it was fairly amusing, so I'll share.
"The oboe is principally a
melodic instrument; it has a rustic character, full of tenderness, I would say even of shyness. ... The sounds of the oboe are suitable for expressing simplicity, artless grace, gentle happiness, or the grief of a weak soul.
It can also convey a degree of agitation, but one must be careful not to intensify this to cries of passion, to vehement outbursts of anger, threats or heroism: its thin, bitter-sweet tones then become feeble and altogether grotesque. ... One may find...passages with a passionate intent and martial tone that are oddly at variance with the sound of the oboes that play them. The result is not only that the effect misfires, but that there is a jarring discrepancy between the stage and the orchestra, and between the melody and its instrumentation. The most direct, beautiful and noble march theme loses its nobility, directness and beauty if heard on the oboes."
The English horn:
"It is not capable either of voicing passionate laments, and tones of acute grief are more or less beyond its reach. It is a melancholy, dreamy and rather noble voice, with a somewhat subdued and distant tone. This makes it superior to any other instrument when the intention is to move by reviving images and feelings from the past, and when the composer wishes to touch the hidden chords of tender memories."

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