Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Classical Afternoon - with Beethoven!

Steve And Amy's basses rest before concert duty
The calendar rolls onward, and suddenly, after less than two months of practice, it's October 14th and time to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and two smaller pieces! Where does the time go?

I put in my time--two hours a week with the Castro Valley Adult School Orchestra rehearsing, and hours a week at home, in my dining room. I'd pick up the bass and work on the tough parts, where cascades of sixteenth notes complicated the work. The easy parts, with a pizzicato quarter note per measure, I neglected.

Beethoven, by the seventh of his eight symphonies, was mostly deaf and really works the orchestra good. Maybe he was frustrated that he wouldn't hear the output himself, but there is some serious beating on the instruments to get the energetic, sometimes frenetic sounds he calls for in this piece. The second movement, though, is a bit of a respite, although unlike other symphonies, it doesn't feature a quiet, slow second movement but an allegretto--a dance number--that satisfies but is not a real rest. This movement is the sound behind King George Sixth's speech in The King's Speech, and sounds no less wonderful in the Castro Valley Center for the Arts with no stuttering monarch as a visual.

The piece is brisk once again as it moves through the last two movements, with some serious sawing on the strings of the bass. What was the composer thinking? What did he want to say? After our performance, we didn't know, but it was definitely something worth exploring. I may get another opportunity at this work in the future--when I can perhaps play perfectly the parts that I goofed up this time.

Funny, but the couple parts I really wanted to perform well I didn't but some tough areas that I didn't have down did come through today. So--it was a noble effort, and we can all breathe easier knowing it's time, once again, to move onto the next show.

The show was only 1/2 Beethoven. The first half featured two shorter pieces. One was Gluck's Ipheginie en Aulide, a German piece that hails from before the American Revolution.This Opera music was sweet and easy to play--a good way to warm up listeners for Lee Actor's Divertimento for Small Orchestra, which was written last year as a commission. Full of time signature changes and shifts in mood, it was a challenge to play, but rewarding, despite it's extreme modernity.

But the Beethoven was the heart of the program, and we all hope that folks went home happy.

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