07. July 2007 · Comments Off on Just some lines … · Categories: Ramble

… from this article I happened upon. Because they made me smile or shake my head or whatever …

f you’ve ever thought: Hey, the intonation of this orchestra is “a bit like that of an old man without his dentures reading a love poem,” then you’d enjoy reviews by Fanfare’s critics, who flay recordings like students flay biology class frogs.

I went on and on, oblivious that these folks wanted to enjoy music and not get sucked into my acoustical agonies.

Musicians often compare great auditoriums to fine, artisanal instruments. Each one has its own sound and personality. I’m happy to say, Memphis has a hall that agrees with me.

Artisanal?? That word just sounds so … um … well … you know. Maybe I’m putting the accent in the wrong place. I wonder.

But anyway, sound technicians kind of crack me up sometimes. But I wouldn’t mind if this guy came to the California Theatre. There are some noises there that trouble me and I wonder if I’m the only one who hears them. There’s some sort of hiss. Sometimes a high pitch lingering above me. And I can’t believe that the audience isn’t bothered. But maybe these noises aren’t in the hall.

He’s right, though, when he says others don’t care to hear him go into great detail about the sound; they came to enjoy a concert. Mostly folks want to hear that what they paid to hear was good unless they are critics of some sort … or students.

Students love to critique, or so I’ve found. They often are harsher on professional groups than they are on themselves. I even had one student come up to me after I played a WWQuintet concert and he proceeded to critique it saying, “You had the same problems our quintet had with the work!” That is not what a performer wants to hear right after a concert, believe me. Especially from this particular student (he is no longer playing and was from several years ago so I feel safe in saying this without having him identified) … he was a pretty bad player. Sigh. I’ve heard other students go on and on about how awful a performance was, and sometimes they are talking about a top-notch group. I simply can’t believe they hear better than the majority of audience members and reviewers, but they seem unable (or unwilling) to enjoy a concert. They want to find problems. Too bad. If I’m going to pay a lot of money for something — or even if I’ve just given up a free night — I go in with the “expectation of goodness”. I just prefer to go in with that kind of attitude.

But I ramble. What a surprise!

07. July 2007 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

I was reading a review of the New York Phil’s 4th of July concert, and I came across this sentence: “I might mention, too, that their snapping was as off as their pizzicatos can be.”

I was surprised, because as far as I knew Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story” didn’t have any snapping. I had even read or heard somewhere that Bernstein didn’t like the snapping that was added to the movie in one section. But that could be a silly tale, who knows? So I did a little search on West Side Story, Bernstein and snapping and landed here. It’s a bit of a fun read. And I ran across this paragraph:

In Washington the program credits read “Lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.” “I can see you’re upset,” Sondheim remembers Bernstein saying to him as they drove back to their hotel from the day’s rehearsal. “The lyrics are yours an you should have sole credit and I will arrange that.” Sondheim thanked him. “And we’ll make the financial adjustment too,” Bernstein went on. “Oh, don’t bother about that,” said the grateful Sondheim. “After all, it’s only the credit that matters.” When Sondheim told the story later, he would ruefully add: “I’m sorry I opened my mouth.”

Yeah, I’ll bet Sondheim regrets that one, although I’m guessing he doesn’t exactly hurt for money.

I have always loved playing the Symphony Dances, but I will confess that I hate yelling out “Mambo!” (I can’t remember if that is written in our parts or if it’s just tradition that we do that, but we do.) It’s funny, but speaking is so different from playing for me. I’ve put on poetry readings and while I do get nervous (more nervous than for playing) I get in “speaking mode” and can deal. But saying something while being an oboist or English hornist? Nope. No can do. I’m not sure why. The brass players are usually the ones who have no problem yelling out “Mambo!” with gusto. Go figure.

UPDATE: My friend DK tells me that yes, the snaps are written. Maybe just not in my part (?). She says they are in the “cool” section. I think I had heard that Bernstein didn’t like that they were added during the social dance section, when Maria and Tony first meet. But as I said, I could be wrong. (There’s a particular blogger who loves to point out when I’m wrong, though, and he hasn’t written!)