Monday, November 19, 2012

Another orchestra concert

Yesterday, my chamber orchestra played its second concert of the season. The program was all short audience pleasers. Well, of course we always hope that our programs are audience pleasers, but this one was especially so: Humperdinck's overture to Hansel and Gretel; Smetana's "The Moldau," Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours," Mahler's Adagietto from the fifth symphony, and selections from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake suite.

"The Moldau" is special favorite of everyone, including me. One of my earliest memories of listening to classical music as a child was the set of "great classics" purchased one at a time from the A&P, stored in a fat binder covered in red leatherette, with heavy marbled paper sleeves for the LP records. I don't know what orchestra was playing the stuff, but I loved this piece. My resident critic (aka my husband), opined that this one went especially well at our concert. (We were kind of stretching the definition of "chamber orchestra" with the full brass section, including tuba.)

The Ponchielli has a rather challenging cello part, with a full page or so of the cellos carrying the melody. And it's a cool piece, too, despite the collective consciousness of dancing hippos and nerdy Jewish folk singers it evokes.

The Tchaikovsky, as I mentioned in an earlier post, includes a big cello solo, a duet with the first violinist, and I was a little nervous about this. Six flats, lots of big shifts, very emotional. Imagine my horror when on the first measure of my solo, my endpin slipped!* But I yanked the cello back into place without missing a note, and everyone said they saw it happen but didn't hear it (maybe they were being kind).

(I think our cello section actually sounded better than the one in this video, which I think was the Philadelphia Orchestra. I guess standards were lower in 1939.)

*For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the endpin is that sharpened metal spear that holds the cello in place on the floor. If the end gets too dull, it sometimes doesn't stay in place even on carpet, and this can really mess you up. I usually use a little device I made myself out of a piece of wood, some cup hooks, and some plastic rope that hooks around the chair legs, but I didn't use it yesterday, unfortunately (thinking the carpet was enough of a holding surface).

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