Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mahler 1

Concert went pretty well last night--not the best of the year. It seemed like everyone had problems. Response issues, particularly in the first movement. The orchestra seemed tentative until after the repeat (that first page in my part takes forever!), when we finally seemed to relax and flow. I had to sneak-tongue my low B (slur from low E to low B, pp, as my first entrance), but nobody seemed to notice. I was really disappointed with my reeds--and my playing in general. It's really frustrating when there's absolutely nothing you can do as you're sustaining a long note and there's a rattle in your sound (no, this is not spit). Thankfully, the last solo I had was the best I'd played it (third movement). The rest of the piece? Not my best playing. I felt like writing a letter of apology to the conductor; I then talked myself out of this. We can be so hard on ourselves, and chances are those little imperfections went unnoticed.

I noticed though, and I'm a little down today.

My English horn is acting up--another frustration because you really can't tell if it's a problem with your instrument, your reeds, or you. I can leave it with a repairman pretty soon. I've been called in to fill out Simpson College's band for some rehearsals and concerts, so I'll need it then, but otherwise I don't have anything coming up until JUNE!! Can you believe it? This was my last symphonic set this year! I play a pops concert ("Freedom Festival") at the end of June, and then nothing until September. Oboe is a little different, with the whole lecture-document and all. But my schedule has never been this clear. If I was dependent on this income (it's supplemental), I would not be able to survive. I would be playing oboe on street corners. (Then it would crack in this cold, and I would just be homeless with a broken oboe. The crazy oboe lady.) I'm very thankful that Dave is able to support us both. My teaching and playing help provide the comforts in our life. More playing, and of course more money, would be nice, but there's something to be said for health insurance, a steady paycheck, and a home. Not that I'd turn down any gigs. Please send them my way! I need to keep playing, for my spirit...and my chops!


Patty said...

We oboists and English hornists are very hard on ourselves, aren't we? I know some string players who would just shrug it all off. (But then one of them just shrugged off the fact that her cell phone went off in a very tender moment of Traviata ... I'd rather be more like us!)

In any case:
1) I'm sorry :-(
2) Don't apologize! You only remind someone of something he/she very well may have forgotten or not even noticed and, besides, we all struggle sometimes. A good conductor knows it
3) I struggled for YEARS with my EH, thinking it was me and my reeds. Not so! What a difference taking it to Chudnow and having him do tons of work made. It's crazy making when we are dealing with low note issues, isn't it? There are a few simple adjustments I can make myself, too, which often are the culprits. (Thank God for "The Oboe Revealed" and it's repair section!)
4) Ignore all of this if I'm sounding like an annoying interfering mom! :-)

I'm envious of the Mahler though! Our new hall (an incredibly beautiful old movie theatre) probably couldn't handle the size of a Mahler orchestra and that makes me sad. (Although I don't ever want to do the 4th again!)

I, too, rely on my husband's health insurance and all. Aren't we the blessed ones, to have husbands with jobs that provide that? I think so!

Happy reed thoughts ... happy repair thoughts ... happy low note attack thoughts ... all being sent your way.

Oh ... and more gig thoughts too! :-)

Patty said...

If I could edit myself I'd correct the "me and my reeds" to "my reed and I"

But alas, I can't. ;-)

Still, being an oboist and all, I have to point out that I know I wrote that. I think it's part of our mentality ...?

Jillian said...

You don't sound like an annoying interfering mom! I need to hear these things, so, thank you! I have the Sawicki, and nothing I did helped the other day. I do need to send this off soon.

Patty said...

I'm glad I don't come across as a pesky old mother. Thanks for that!

I honestly do believe that those of us who are in the same camp need to reassure one another frequently. There are times when the difficulties with our reeds and instruments can be crazy making!

I think English horns can be fussy little guys, you know? Worse than oboe, at least for me, when it comes to adjusting. And of course it's the instrument that composers like to have sitting cold for eons and then say, "Here! Come in on this attack. Softly!"

Oh ... I seem to recall Mahler 1 has the " Frère Jacques" tune, and the EH goes down to low B-flat, right? I always want to do that to get full value out of my B-flat attachment. But maybe you have one that actually was built to go down there?

Jillian said...

No, I would play the even more difficult (rest)-C-Db-C-(rest); (rest)-C-Db-C-(rest) (hum it, you'll see.) Sneaking into the line on pp low I don't have a B-flat extension. Definitely on the next horn, which should (*hopefully*) be in the next couple of years.

Patty said...

That's what I had to do too, when I first played the work, so I do know about that!

Now I purchased the extension. I'm glad I have it for Mahler AND for the Michael Touchi piece I did.

Hmmm... maybe you'd be interested in Mike's piece, actually! It's for soprano sax, English horn and strings. It's called Tango Barroco. Lots 'o fun to play. (We recorded it, but I have to say I'm very disappointed in the recording ... the balance is all wrong. Sigh.)