I’m a delinquent blogger! Yesterday evening after the concert there was a live blog-event in the Overlook Room at Heinz Hall. I missed the last one as well as this one. I would’ve liked to meet those folks, especially my fellow bloggers on the PSO blog who generously share their thoughts and experiences with us. We hosted a family for dinner and I was needed at home to help. Something about the concept of going to a social event and plunking away at a keyboard seems counter-intuitive to me…..I’d just as soon look at the people I’m talking to!!
The past couple of weeks have been really intense at Heinz Hall. The repertoire is huge and coming at a nice clip. With Mahler 1 in the rear view mirror, we are staring down the barrel of a John Williams/Erich Kunzel brass-fest. I’m excited to play all the greatest hits, I love the writing……great horn parts…..BUT, the following week we are recording two Brahms works live for a PSO/Janowski/Brahms project. I hope the bruising and swelling will have subsided by then. The two works that we’re recording are the Haydn Variations, and the 2nd Symphony. It’s going to be a heavy couple of weeks. Lots of aspirin…..and lots of fun.
Last week’s visit by Peter Oundjian was a rousing success. With
Bronfman as piano soloist on the 1st half and Mahler 1 on the 2nd half,
how could you go wrong? Oundjian’s rehearsal style was very verbal and
detail-oriented. I found myself trying to recall what he said about
each thing I was about to play. I think that it must be difficult for
a conductor to balance between communicating his/her musical
interpretation and trusting the orchestra to bring its own musicality
to the piece. With a war horse like Mahler 1, you risk having the
orchestra going into a default mode and giving a performance that is
exactly the sum of it’s parts (minus a little inspiration), instead of
a performance that rises to a magical level. This performance was
pretty frisky. At a performance of Mahler 1 with Oundjian at the Grand
Teton Music Festival he added the "Blumine" movement between the 1st
and 2nd movements of the symphony (I guess that in early sketches of
the piece it was in there? I don’t know). Since the PSO program
included Theofanidis’ "Rainbow Body" and Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto
on the first half, it was decided at the last minute to drop the
"Blumine" movement because the concert was in peril of becoming
"Heinz-stock" it was so long. Frankly, the piece is better off without
the added movement. Whether it’s Pavlovian conditioning or just that
the movement sounds weak, it never sounded right to me. It would work
much more effectively as a stand alone movement to break up a hyper
first half of a concert.
I can remember going to concerts as a student and hearing the
Chicago Symphony or the Baltimore Symphony play these great works. I
would be bouncing off the walls with excitement, wanting to get to the
practice room and try to play like that. After our performance of this
concert at West Virginia University on Saturday night I could see that
excitement on the faces of the horn students who came backstage to see
us. I think there were quite a few horn students staying up late to
practice last weekend.