Tuesday, April 15, 2008

daaaa dum, daaaa dum, RING RING

On Sunday I played 2nd oboe / English horn on Symphonie Fantastique. It was a blast, but Natasha was not exaggerating when she said how difficult it is to do both parts. I think that normally in big orchestras the part is split between the second oboe and the English horn. Or sometimes they have someone play the offstage oboe solo so the principal oboe doesn't have to walk offstage. As it was, I had to play the first oboe part on the end of the second movement and then immediately play that English horn solo so the principal could go backstage. Starting all by myself on that scary C on an instrument and reed that I hadn't played since tuning, probably 20 minutes ago by that time, was VERY SCARY. The first few times we rehearsed it I didn't play that oboe part at the end of the second movement, and even just leaving that out was much easier. But I never really figured out exactly how long and when to wet my EH reed or how best to warm it up in order to go from the second to third movement. So anyway, I did my best, and Jenny played the oboe solos beautifully, but I wasn't terribly happy with the first solo with regard to pitch and sound quality, especially at first. To add to my discomfort, someone's cell phone rang THREE TIMES during that solo. Jenny couldn't hear it, because she was backstage, but I must admit I found it a mite distracting. Honestly, the thought that ran through my head as I heard it was, "Why would shepherds bother to communicate with pipes if they had cell phones???" Anyway, I was a lot happier with the solo at the end of the third movement. And by the way, it's also a really bitchy second oboe part, especially the "religious" moment at the end of the first movement. The low register, with Es and Gs that tend to be flat (and the G in particular CANNOT be flat since it's the fifth), ppp, is so scary. But the 4th and 5th movements are fun :) I was very happy to have the playing experience, and I enjoyed playing it with my colleagues.


Natasha said...

I'm glad it went well. Good luck on your recital!

Gabrielle said...

thanks, natasha! i'm glad you updated your blog :)

Patty said...

In the past, our orchestra (San Jose Symphony (RIP)) had three on stage -- 1st, 2nd, and EH, with the EH playing AP after the third movement, and an extra player JUST for the off stage part. The walking off stage is so disruptive and difficult on a crowded stage!

Now, in the new, smaller orchestra, we have two on stage and one extra hired for off stage. So last year when we played it I played 2nd oboe and EH. This allows for me to toot a bit of EH during a loud part at least.

But yes, the life of an EH player can be stressful! There are a ton of solos that we play after sitting forever. I'm not sure what composers were thinking. Maybe they weren't thinking. But for my 27 years in San Jose Symphony I had to deal with that a lot. What can ya do? :-)

But what I really want to hear about is your recital! :-)