Friday, September 14, 2007

Paganini Shmaganini

Well, the Paganini performance went very well overall. I remember every single wrong note I hit, and there were enough that I don't want it to go public. After the performance, every person I talked to was full of compliments. Am I too cynical to think that not all of them were sincere? How can people hear past the mistakes? You know how it goes...we're our own worst critics. (But I personally think that's fooie--I'm just realistic and observant!)

What I was afraid would happen is that people hearing me play for the first time would get a negative first impression. It's not like this piece showcases a beautiful, lyrical oboe sound. It's just all notes. All sixteenth notes until the half note chord at the end. So all the people that came up to me said what I'd expected to hear. "Wow! I've never heard an oboist play so many notes!" and "I've never really heard you play before!" The surprising comments included, "You really tore that up!" (did I? really? I don't think so.) "You're amazing!" (Come on, aren't we exaggerating a wee bit?) And just about everyone liked the Paganini the best on the recital. I don't mean to sound like I can't take a compliment. It's just that my impression while playing, and reflecting on it after the performance, was that is wasn't clean.

I did have a nice sound though. Good reed--one of Cooper's actually! (Thanks!) Tuning was good, and we worked well as an ensemble...for the most part. The first page repeats, and I lead the repeat with an ascending C major scale in thirds (solo). I'm then joined on the repeat by the pianist. Well, he came in at least 2 beats early, which throws off the harmonic progression. The problem is, he did not find me, or the flutist, or the two of us together, for about 10-12 measures. We were sitting up there cueing like crazy with our instruments. We had the sixteenth notes, and he had boom-chuck quarter notes. It just wasn't possible for us to find him, and it wasn't our job. I'm glad we were on the same wavelength though (flute and I), because if she'd followed the pianist, it would have spelled the end for me. Anyway, mainly because of that flub-up, Dave is ok with not putting the recording on his website or youtube. Plus, the sound quality you get from a camcorder microphone isn't the best, especially for oboists.

To summarize, I wasn't that happy with the performance (I was a nervous wreck beforehand too--I realized it was the first recital I'd played in since May 2005! hands were shaking so badly afterwards!), I was almost convinced that it was all in my head by all of the compliments I received, and upon listening to the recording, I realized that no, I was right in the first place.

The good news is that unlike other performances in which I didn't play my best, I'm not getting down on myself this time. With a whole lot of fast notes, mistakes can happen. It wasn't perfect, but I'm not beating myself up over it. I didn't immediately think, "I'm a worthless player and should just quit!"...yes, that may sound dramatic, and yes, those thoughts have entered my head after my own recitals. I've come a long way in that regard.

I suggested to Dave that while it's still fresh, we should try to rerecord the piece with a good microphone. We'll fix the piano flub, and a couple of run-throughs should work out the kinks. Especially sans-live audience.

The rest of the recital was great. Dave, unlike me, does not get nervous. He must not be human. He just went out and put everything on the line. That makes for a great performance. I was very proud!

Update on playing while pregnant: (I considered putting this on my belly blog, but this is oboe-related, so it'll just stay here.) I haven't noticed a difference in breath support yet. If I take very full breaths, I do notice that my capacity is a little less. But you don't take enormous breaths when playing the oboe. Hopefully things will stay in the same condition for another 6 weeks or so. My last gig is three weeks before my due date. Baby doesn't move around while I play (except during rehearsal on Wednesday--that was interesting to feel a big kick during the Paganini; it was the first time that had ever happened), but when I relax and listen to music, he continues his squirm sessions. I guess he's just used to Mommy playing the oboe. He sits back and stays out of my way. :) My mom always told me that you shouldn't tiptoe around sleeping babies. Vacuum around them, have the TV on, talk in regular voices, and your baby will be able to sleep anywhere. My studio is right across the hall from the nursery, so we'll see if I'll be able to practice while Baby naps. Reed crowing though? Hmmm. My cats aren't fazed by the oboe, but they aren't crazy about reeds. (Join the club, kitties.) Baby liked Daddy's recital too. He was kicking up a storm as I sat listening in the audience. He certainly gets lots of prenatal exposure! (Best seat in the house!) I bet he'll really be soothed by hearing music once he's been born. (Only two months to go...60 days from today is my due date!)

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