Bass Blog

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

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not so fast!

Ok, so the fellow who tried to sell me a stereo must be working for Gramophone Magazine…


Glinka - Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila
Rachmaninov - Symphony No. 3
Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Simon Trpceski, piano

Ludovic Morlot kind of sounds like the name for a Harry Potter-esque villain. In truth he’s a capable stick man and couldn’t be a nicer fellow, maybe too nice. Sadly, there’s a certain nastiness quotient necessary for a conductor to achieve real greatness. But the entire program had a kind of lightweight summer season feel to it anyway.

We used to have a guy here (music director, I think – name escapes me) who frequently programmed the Glinka Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila as an encore and took it really, really, really fast – maybe even too fast, but who am I to say. He also had the habit of hiding the baton when taking the final curtain call so he could leap onto the podium and astonish the crowd by starting the encore unexpectedly. One day while on tour I had a concert off and decided to attend – well OK, I felt forced to attend, a story in itself having something to do with a purloined ticket, somebody’s ‘girlfriend’, our former manager, and me ending up in a position where I felt I had to attend the concert or risk reprobation. Nevertheless, during the applause I noticed a colleague on stage had closed the music folder, loosened his bow and stuck it under the strings (something we bass players do when it’s time to go) obviously thinking he was all done for the evening. “Uh oh!” I thought as I saw the music director fellow emerging from the wings, the baton cleverly concealed along his sleeve while my colleague had his head turned, putting the cover on his rosin or something. Leaping onto the podium the Maestro gave a quick fire downbeat that appeared to take about a third of the orchestra by surprise, especially my colleague who spent almost the entire first page (of a thee page piece) scrambling to get the music out of the folder and the bow out from under the strings. Obsessed as I am with rapid egress, I definitely felt there but by the grace of (whoever) go I.

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