Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Convention-al Blog

Live from the IDRS Conference, this is Jillian Camwell reporting. I’m here to give you an up-to-date play-by-play of the who’s who and the what’s what.

I currently have the Poulenc Trio in my head, as that was the final piece of tonight’s concert, played by Emily Pailthorpe (oboe), Stéphane Lévesque (bassoon) and Robert Palmer (piano). It was absolutely fantastic! This is a piece that EVERYONE knows and plays, and when you perform it, you really need to bring something different to keep it from falling into the “same old” trap. Pailthorpe, Lévesque and Palmer shone throughout the entire performance. They communicated with a sparkle of the eye, and as an audience member, you couldn’t look away! Pailthorpe was gorgeous in her light pink evening gown. The first movement was faster than I’d ever heard it performed. It bordered on too fast, but they held on, providing that extra bit of adrenaline to the audience. I grasped the edge of my seat and didn’t let go until the second movement. I don’t think the smile left my face for their entire performance. The second movement, filled with poignant melodies and wide intervallic leaps that tug at the heartstrings, gave me goosebumps. We were off to races again for the third movement, where the trio played on the comic nature of the rondo and its quirky themes. The performance wasn’t without its faults, but all three performers made up for it in panache and flare. It was great to sit up close and see all their facial expressions, especially Pailthorpe with her now-furrowed brow, now-flirty smile, now-mischievous eyes. Pailthorpe and Lévesque matched well in timbre and volume, but Pailthorpe outshone in character. I would love for her to record this work! (*One day later, an edit: she has recorded this piece, but not with Lévesque. I just bought the cd today!)

I didn’t really mean this to turn into a review. I won’t do that for all the performances (I wouldn’t have time!), but that one certainly deserved it.

The rest of the concert was wonderful. Robert Williams, principal bassoonist with the Detroit Symphony, played Three Recital Pieces, op. 10 by Julius Weissenborn. Very romantic (19th century); I adored Williams’ sound. Next was the Quartet for English horn and strings by Jean Francaix, played by English hornist Grover Schiltz, former EH with the Chicago Symphony. He played with them in the 1950s, and he’s an enormous influence on generations of oboists and EH players. He must be in his late 70’s, which made the performance all the more amazing. This was followed by Pauline Oostenrijk playing Nico Hermans’ Serenade for oboe and strings (oboe quartet). I wasn’t a huge fan of the piece, but I was mesmerized by Oostenrijk’s playing. Her sound (definitely European in its flexibility, throaty sound and singing vibrato) was unique and stunning.

Earlier this afternoon I went to hear James Ryon, principal oboist of the Baton Rouge Symphony. He played a duet for oboe and cello (cellist Regina Mushabac), which is now on my list of pieces to play. It sounded difficult but very accessible (tonal), melodic (me likey), and rich (especially for a duo). The duo was then joined by a pianist to play Nikola Resanovic’s Trio for Oboe, Cello and Piano. I was very impressed with the piece itself. It was very interesting compositionally. The parts were intricate, and it sounded like it would be pretty difficult.

The final performance was of audience members entering the hall when they should have waited for the piece to conclude. Every hall had ushers, so it’s really their fault that they’re letting people in. Still, when someone walks in and walks halfway to the stage and tries to scooch in past three other people, everyone else in the hall has license to hate that person. I was 30 seconds late for Ryon’s performance, the usher let me in with another woman (in fact, he was just closing the door), and I slid in to an aisle seat silently. I still felt the glares of people around me. All was forgotten when halfway-to-the-stage-woman walked in and clumped down, and I was given license to glare along with everyone else.

Conferences like these make me realize that I don’t know as much repertoire as I thought I did. Granted, there are many premieres, so nobody knows those pieces, but there are other pieces which have apparently been around for a while. I haven’t had this conversation yet, but I guarantee it’ll happen by the end of the conference:

Me: Wow! That was a great piece. I’ve never heard it before.
Person (not Dave) sitting next to me: Really? You’ve never heard it? I just played it on my Junior recital.
Me: [Hang head in shame.]

We both got snazzy tote-backpacks at registration. Is it a tote? Is it a backpack? It’s fabulous! And one more reason to love this conference. (I’ll post a picture.)

Phew! I tired myself out there with all my giddiness. Goodnight!


Pattyoboe said...

I am so jealous you can't even imagine! I was hoping for next year, but it turns out that our high school son and college daughter graduate the week the IDRS is happening. Sigh.

Keep filling us sad, stuck-at-home folks informed. I love it!

Karmen said...

Hey Jill - I'm so envious! I would have loved to hear that version of the Poulenc trio. I'm not familiar with Emily Palithorpe, but I absolutely love Stephane's playing!

I just heard the news about John Mack - what a massive loss for the oboe community, as well as the entire music community. Will they be doing anything special in his memory at the conference?