We had two rehearsals today for A Midsummer Night’s Dream ballet which opens Thursday. In between I went to Cafe Trieste and had a small bowl of mushroom soup (quite yummy), and later a cookie and coffee. I needed to be alone; I’m not feeling great, I don’t want to get anyone sick, and I just needed the solitude.

Tomorrow night is our first (and only) rehearsal with dancers before opening on Thursday. We have an extra 30 minutes of rehearsal, so I know I’m going to be a zombie by Thursday. On Thursday I have more work before opening night.

It’s a very busy week, and of course I’ve managed to catch some sort of bug. I thought I was going to beat it easily, but tonight is suggesting otherwise. So tomorrow, until I teach in the afternoon, I’m going to have to take it very easy.

Oh … and a little “funny” for you. When Pam gave the A I immediately fingered an E, although I did catch myself before playing it! Having played English horn all last week, and having barely touched the oboe (although I did assist after my solos were over) my brain was still in EnglishHornLand™. (For those of you who don’t know: the EH is in the key of F, so when an A is given I have to play a fifth above to match the pitch.)

31. March 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: BQOD

Everyone knows that you should have more than one playable reed. I’ve been a slacker since the “Miracle Reed” lasted me about a year. How I managed to have a reed that not only played decently for a year but didn’t have an accident either I’ll never know.

Either way…my good reed cracked right before the concert. I had exposed sections. My oboe self-esteem is still fragile. I tried to get something else working quickly…it just wasn’t meant to be.

No. Comment. (But my students will know what I’m thinking, I’m sure!)

31. March 2009 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

I played the oboe all through high school. They’re pretty!

31. March 2009 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

I would say there is often an emotional distance in Ravel, but this piece goes deep down, especially in the slow movement. This is Ravel that goes beyond the merely beautiful; I find it one of the most emotionally involving of his pieces. And what is most interesting is the ever-changing sense of harmony. The colors shift all the time. And the music is rhythmically subtle; it demands a great deal of precision. That long, slow melody in the second movement, for example, is misleading in its simplicity — one step in the wrong direction, just as in Mozart, and you are lost.

The real problem, is in the section where the English Horn solo goes on and on, and the pianist has to play the accompaniment. Every pianist who performs the Ravel Concerto will confess to you that it is hard not to lose your place in that section. This is something one should never say, of course, because then the audience will become aware of the difficulty and look for a mistake.

But there are also other challenges: things I would love to be able to do in this work. I would like to be able to execute a glissando, for example, so that it sounds as if it were being played by a trumpet. If you can conjure that in the piano line, you have accomplished something!

-Mitsuko Uchida

I read it here.

(We’ll be doing the Ravel Piano Concerto for our opening weekend in Symphony Silicon Valley next season. I love the English horn solo!)