A good week

I’ve not been posting much recently, due mostly to being swamped on multiple fronts. But this week reminded me that being swamped is not necessarily a bad thing. Working backwards, then…

We ended the week with two lovely subscription performances with our music director. The program was Goldmark’s In Springtime, the Grieg piano concerto with Bill Wolfram, and the Brahms second symphony. The Goldmark was a bit of an oddity (and I’m sure I just did the last performance I’ll ever do of it), but a very attractive piece. The Grieg was played compellingly by Bill, who really is one of the best musicians of any kind on the circuit today. (I had the pleasure, years ago, of doing the Brahms songs for alto, viola, and piano with Bill, and it was only strolling through an airport a few days later, singing to myself, that I realized that not once during the performance had I felt constrained by the piano – something that had never happened to me before when playing with anyone except once or twice in quartet. I simply did what I wanted to do, and it was magically and perfectly together with Bill. Pretty clearly it wasn’t my fault that it was so together either.)

And the Brahms benefited from the 12 years we’ve spent working with a music director with a particular love and feel for Brahms, as well as from this orchestra’s innate feel for the Germanic romantic literature. It just all came together in the most natural and easy way; ensemble and pitch fell into place, and there was a lovely pacing, intensity, and (paradoxically enough) intensity to the whole effort. I can’t imagine us doing a better Brahms 2, or any orchestra doing one much better than we did last night.

On showing up for the first concert on Friday morning, I saw the program book for March and April. Suffice to say that I was front and center on the cover. Actually it would be more accurate to say I was the entire cover.

Further backwards in time, on Tuesday our principal 2nd violin, Jennifer Startt, and I played the Handel/Halvorsen Passacaglia for the subscription campaign kick-off event, which featured a Q&A between Edo de Waart, our music director designate, and an audience of several hundred subscribers, hosted by our concertmaster Frank Almond. I was surprised to find out that I could still be that nervous. Perhaps spending all that day (and the previous day) listening to auditions with Edo reminded me that, in a sense, one is always auditioning when one plays for the boss. But it went well, or felt as if it did. We had spent a lot of time on the violin/viola repertoire over the past few months, working in real detail, and it seemed to have paid off, in terms of ensemble and pitch in particular.

And I discovered the subscription brochure led off with a quote from me about our music director designate, which of course I had known about (having supplied the quote) but was interested to see in context. A laudatory quote, of course, and an honest one. But it reminded me that there times when the multiple hats I wear sit at odd angles to each other on my head.


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