Starting up – Bob Lauver

Last night began the 2006-07 subscription season with a bang……or should I say sneeze?……

After glossing over the program notes I learned that Kodaly’s Hary
Janos Suite has in it one of the more spectacularly conceived
orchestral "sneezes" in the repertoire.  The sneeze is in there because
of a Hungarian superstition that states that everything after a sneeze
is truth.  As a story teller, it then becomes the perfect time to pack
the plot with huge lies, they’ll have their best chance at slipping by
unnoticed.  Based on that superstition, almost our entire concert was
perfect…..we had help. 

Right after the opening notes of the Kodaly there was a sneeze
unlike any I’ve ever heard.  Not your normal "ah-CHOO" or "ker-CHOO" or
even the stifled "phoo".  This one was probably depending on some major
orchestral cover noise and the timing was just a little off.  We just
finished a big fortissimo run up, then the smallest gap of total
silence and it happened……."ah-CHOO-EHH-UUGH" echoed into the
recesses of Heinz Hall dying out just as the horn section took in a
breath to play a long pianissimo chord.  Sometimes things happen on
stage that require sudden focus to refrain from getting a blast of
laughter instead of a note through the horn, this was right up there.
Last year it was the balloons going off like shotguns in the gala
concert, this year…..the sneeze.  To be honest, I know that coughs
and sneezes happen and are inevitable (I don’t know how they keep them
from happening in Europe….impressive).  This one was art….true
party-tape material.

The concert went well, I think.  The Rimsky-Korsakoff was fast and
quite muscular.  Tortelier requested "punch" from the brass, something
I’m not used to hearing a need for……that’s pretty much provided by
default.  He got it for sure.  The woodwind cadenza solos were awesome
and showed once again the artistic prowess that I hear so frequently
that I sometimes take for granted.  Andrés "told the story" like no
other, sweet tone and lyricism galore.  Scheherezade gets
maligned as a work lacking substance……maybe it’s my rather
un-complex nature, but I love the piece.  There was one moment where
Tortelier indicated an open string bass note to be big and I think he
was looking up at the ceiling to see if the roof was coming off.
Huge.  The crazy thing is that it was during one of the louder cadenzas
that Andres had.  With the difference in tessitura I think that it came
off, sometimes it’s hard to tell balances from where I sit on
stage…..sure sounded cool, though.  All in all, selfishly speaking, I
had fun last night.  It feels good to be playing meat and potatoes
concerts for the home crowd again.

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