5 May 2015
This was my second orchestral concert, this one with Maruki Orchestra. And it was a serious program! Beethoven Fifth symphony, Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an exhibition, Weber Oberon overture and Bizet L'Arlesienne suite no.2. Big and demanding and fabulous. John Gould directs and conducts. He's got some great stories that emerge in practice from his time with the London Symphony Orchestra and others. And he's got a nicely supportive approach: not worrying too much about wrong notes (they'll come and it's largely an individual thing anyway) but pushing the feel and form. And sometimes the speed. I'm sure we ended practicing the Beethoven at a faster pace than we played it in performance. I guess that's a conductor's method, and despite our worry about speed, he had to pull us back in the fourth movement when we were getting excited. Performance is different and we rose at the occasion, if not fully for the occasion. Our Pictures was more competent than usual. It has some devilish playing. Also a few tacets for double bass when I can sit back and enjoy the performance, and I especially adore the staccatos going every-which-way amongst the unhatched chicks. Gnomus is a technical thing of fear; Old castle is fabulously effective with its one note bassline (G#); Bydlo give me a feature with a few notes played solo pizz at the end; the Cabane sur des pattes de poule is driving and the Great gate of Kiev is a spine-tingling and majestic finish. Our Oberon was lively and the fast passages seemed to fall more easily; the Bizet was nicely generous; the Beethoven was a challenge as always. The first theme fells nicely; the second movement went decently well - I took on the Trio with some success and again felt robbed of one passage that I particularly enjoy but is allocated to solo cellos (~bar 280); the fourth movement transitions without a break and just keeps on keeping on with recurrent themes and new materials and a fabulous ending that crosses barlines (starting bar 721) and just explodes into the final orchestral hits and the end. Fabulous! There is no way to know a piece like learning and playing it. Again, fabulous. Sound excited? Well, I haven't heard the recording through yet and I'm sure it's not Berlin Phil, but it was a great outing and a great pleasure and there were lots of smiling faces after the gig. Congrats to all but maybe a few mentions are due: to Ben Stewart (oboe) for his solo in Beethoven; to Angela Vivian-Bolt (trumpet) for the solo in Samuel Goldberg und Schmuyle (Pictures); to Arko Chakrabarty (flute) for his solo (where?); to Mark Lim (violin) as concert master; closer to home, to Rachel Towson (cello) for her ability with those quick passages; and, of course, to John Gould (musical director, conductor). And to Alan Johnson (bassoon) who originally asked me if I'd like to play Beethoven's fifth. What a blast!