Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian formerly played bass with an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Week 19

STRAVINSKY Symphony of Psalms
KNUSSEN Violin Concerto
MOZART Mass in C Minor
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin
Camilla Tilling, soprano
Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor
Eric Owens, bass

7:30 MOB concert (Mozart)

10-12:30 orchestra rehearsal

1:30-3:30 4:30-7 orchestra rehearsals

10-12:30 orchestra rehearsal
8 orchestra concert

8 orchestra concert

8 orchestra concert

3 orchestra concert
7 CBE rehearsal

This week’s program is sort of an odd sandwich of choral works around the Knussen violin concerto. Although I’m not playing the piece, one player in the orchestra (who must read this blog) made certain to point out the musicians approved of the Knussen. To date, that is the only comment I’ve heard either way, besides the fact the bass parts are difficult. (Knussen’s father was principal bass of the London Symphony.) To be fair, the audience reaction sounded very enthusiastic from my comfortable seat in the lounge, which makes one wonder why we play his music only about once a decade.

Knussen came here a number of years ago to conduct a concert of his works. Although I don’t recall the pieces specifically, I remember enjoying those concerts. Knussen also made what for me has to be one of the more memorable utterances from the podium.

Obviously feeling the pressure of putting together a concert of new works on short rehearsal time, the maestro showed signs of fraying around the edges at the final rehearsal. With time ticking away, a prickly, pesky, principal player, peppering him all week with trivial questions finally drove the composer over the edge. Knussen snapped, “Your constant questions are driving me right round the bend!” That is reason enough for me to want us to play more of his music.

After playing Mozart with MOB last week, the big orchestra’s HGH enhanced sound comes as a bit of a shock to the ears. Still, the Mass is a wonderful piece.


nobleviola said...

I wouldn't want to piss off Ollie - I remember doing a couple programs with him at Tanglewood, it was like having Andre the Giant as a conductor.

Unknown said...

Entertaining as always, Michael.