29. October 2009 · Comments Off on Not So Very Nice? Or At Least Not So Very Fun … · Categories: Ramble

… except when it works it actually is fun! Go figure.

I really do like Eric Ewazen’s Woodwind Quintet, Roaring Fork. I think the audience will too. But there is one spot that does not make me happy. It’s the sort of thing that causes some of us to call composers “mean”. We don’t really mean it of course (well, I don’t anyway!), but when a bar like the one I’m having to deal with pops up I go a bit crazy.

Ewazen WWQ 2nd movement

Oboists will see, I’m sure, which bar I’m talking about. I’m starting with left E flat, but for the second E flat I slide from the right D flat to the right E flat. I have tried it several ways, and I think what’s best for me is to use the banana key on the low B flat. One of my colleagues actually plays left E flat and then moves her left pinkie to the low B flat key. That actually hurts when I use my usual oboe. Trouble is, right now my usual oboe has issues with the banana key (I think it needs to be bent a bit closer in, and maybe moved in height as well.), so I’m using my “not so usual” oboe. It works almost consistently. (I suspect this will never be one of those “Oh I’ll never miss!” passages.) Starting at bar 62, this is pretty much an oboe solo, too.

The other difficulty is the length of this phrase. This is a slow movement. You can see where I’ve written “solo” … and I mean “all alone” … there is no place to breathe until bar 70. If we go too slowly, I’m pretty dead by the end.

I have a recording of this work, and the Borealis Wind Quintet oboist, Tamar Beach Wells, doesn’t sound like she is struggling at ALL.

Makes me feel very, very wimpy.

In a short time I’m off to a friend’s house. He does oboe repair (and makes fine shaper tips too … stay tuned for an announcement when his site is up and running!). I’m hoping he can work on both of my oboes and my English horn in the short time we’ll have. I definitely need the banana key looked at, and I need some corks put on a few spots where I had to remove them because they were causing keys to stick. I’m hopeful, too, that he can figure out why my “usual” oboe doesn’t care for either low B or low B flat. Those appear a good number of times in our woodwind quintet music.

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