We focussed almost entirely on Berlioz yesterday, and I finally was able to get to the third movement English horn solos at around 8:15. That was one long wait to see how I would feel about the solos! (We rehearsaled—yes, I wrote “rehearsaled” and yes, I could fix that, but I’ve decided it is too funny and must stay—from 3:30-6:00 and then from 7:30 until 10:00). The reed that I’m hoping will be a happy reed worked okay. Not great. But okay. If it were great, I’m not sure it would be great for Saturday and Sunday.

You see reeds have this “thing” about having only a short time of true greatness. Before that you can tell they are on their way to greatness, and after that you can sometimes tell that they had greatness but sometime you wonder how the heck they could ever have played at all! Reeds are funny that way. (And funny in so many other ways.)

I haven’t played Berlioz Symphonie fantastique for ages. I had forgotten about how it feels to play it. Certain works do have certain “feels” to them. This one … well … it’s an odd baby, if you ask me. Berlioz was a bit twisted. Drugs can do that to a person. But I do love the work!

Today is a one-rehearsal day, and the orchestra begins with Piazzolla, so I don’t need to arrive until around 8:30. Then we go past 10:00 with a 45 minute rehearsal of Beethoven’s fifth, which is for a special concert that will follow the Sunday matinee. It will be interesting to see how Sunday goes; Berlioz is taxing, and to put Beethoven on top of that will be … um … interesting!

Gee … now you know how I’ll be spending my Mother’s Day. But better busy than bored. Better employed than not. Better music than silence. 🙂

This Makes Me (just a little bit) Sad
When I parked my car in the lot symphony provides for us on certain days it had no dents. When I returned it had one. Only a slight dent … but still. Sigh. This means that whoever parked next to me—a colleague, no less!—dented my car. And said nothing. I’m not all that obsessive about cars, and I’ve never owned anything especially wonderful. This is only a Honda Civic. But it’s just that someone I know dented my little car. Isn’t that sad? Ah well. It had to happen eventually.

The past few concerts have sold out. This one hasn’t yet reached that point. So if you are interested in hearing Symphony Silicon Valley you should order your tickets! If you don’t, you’ll have to wait until next September. This is our final concert. The Debussy is charming. The Piazzolla is a sexier type of Four Seasons. The Berlioz … well … the Berlioz is a wild ride! So do try to attend if you are able. You could always take mom. 🙂


  1. David Bratman

    The Fantastique has one of the most peculiar feelings of ebb and flow
    of any work in the repertoire.  I’m looking forward to hearing
    what you folks make of it.

  2. David Bratman


    You did Berlioz proud.  That was fantastique.

  3. Patricia Mitchell

    But not perfect, as you stated. Imperfection hurts my stomach. Sigh.

    I’ve never had to play the EH part AND the second oboe part (they are actually on the same book) and it’s pretty rough because the second entrance on EH is one on which I have to come in cold.

    I’m angry at myself. Not uncommon for me. And more than disappointed.

    Sometimes retirement seems the only option.

    (Can you tell it’s been a bad day? Heh. I was reprimanded by someone on the IDRS. I think they’ve cut me out of sending posts too. Then I blow it at a concert. Definitely time for bed!)

  4. David Bratman

    Yeah, I noticed the same two cracked notes you did.  But I thought
    it was a wonderful concert and said so unreservedly.  If my praise
    without any caution of the technical problems I’d only sound ignorant,
    like the reviewer my LJ friend kip_w was writing about recently. 
    could have phrased it better, I suppose, but I guess even the smallest
    nit in the largest sea of praise will irritate you.  You are an
    oyster.  And you have a reader calling it a “stupid review,” I’m
    sure without even having read it.

    Were I writing at greater length I’d try to explain the differences
    between the tiny, purely technical imperfections here, which did not
    get in the way of the magnificence of the performance, and the problems
    which I thought spoiled the Sibelius Fifth recently.  In Berlioz the
    orchestra moved with and were at one with the music; in Sibelius the
    flaws were the result of a halting approach.  It’s like the difference
    between an actor mispronouncing a couple of words and one who trips
    over his own feet.

  5. Patricia Mitchell

    The first — the high C, I’m assuming … that was just plain weird. But it’s an awful note on the EH. The second wouldn’t have happened if I had done what I planned to do, but nerves interfere. And yes, even the smallest nit hurts (not irritates). It’s the way most musicians are, as I’m guessing you know. But I wasn’t irritated! And no, that doesn’t mean you are supposed to be nice to us all the time. Mostly I’m just your typically insecure musician.

    Calling it a “stupid review” is only to make me feel better. I’m sure you know that!

    Now to get back on the horse. (A hard part.)

    English horn is one of the most difficult instruments to play, I think, not because of any fast notes (we rarely get them) or other technical issues, but because, for the most part, we only play some scary solo (often all alone) and then we’re done. I wonder why composers liked to do that to us?! (They don’t seem to do this any more, at least not the works I’ve played.)

    Anyway, I’m sorry you thought I was irritated. I save that for stupid drivers and reviews that are simply wrong!

    Update … after my youngest took me out for breakfast for Mother’s Day (!) … “hurt” is the wrong word. “Frustrated” is more appropriate. Not with you. With. me.

    That’s all. Over and out. Time to get over last night.

  6. David Bratman

    I’m sure this comment is too late, alas, to catch you before you head
    out for today’s concert.  But I’m writing it beforehand, so I’ll
    say to you and all your colleagues: go out and slay ’em with another
    magnificent job like you did last night.

  7. Patricia Mitchell

    Not too late at all, David. I’m sitting here in my black, watching just the beginning of a baseball game. (Trying to get my nerves to behave; I haven’t experienced nerve problems like this much lately, so it is all coming as a frustrating surprise to me.) Thanks for the kind words. They are much appreciated.

    I won’t leave for that hall for a while; since they have preconcert talks it makes no sense to arrive as early as I’d like. I can’t warm up anyway. (Testing reeds anywhere but the stage really does me no good.)