Childhood memories

I remember we had this cd at home; a compilation made by a radio person. If I remember well it wasn’t even all classical but kind of a mix. But it had this amazing ‘song’ on it, classical, with a big orchestra and choir. And I used to make choreographies to the music; sometimes improvised, sometimes I spent hours and hours looking for the right steps. You probably won’t believe me when I say that the piece I’m talking about is Verdi’s gypsy chorus from Il Trovatore. I still find it fascinating.

This week has all been about the orchestra. Wagner. Prelude from Lohengrin, Sigfried Idylle, and symphony in C major. I play third clarinet in Lohengrin and second in the symphony. I love not playing first; it gives freedom to experiment. Not really experiment, but the second is always a little more free in interpretation, because it doesn’t have the typical melodic lines; I have to look for the lines, and that’s quite interesting. And I am not the lead, I am the one that is supposed to adapt intonation to the people around me. I love it, and I love playing in a non-hostil environment for the first time in over a year.

But than we started rehearsing the encores: Radetzky (of course) and Verdi (slave chorus and gypsy chorus). I have sung both choruses before. In fact, I have sung ‘Va pensiero’ so many times that I still know the lyrics more or less by heart. For these last pieces we changed roles on request of my colleague and I got first clarinet. Again, I love it. It’s not such an important part as in the rest of the program so I don’t have anything to worry about.

The slave chorus has two runs together with the flute, and as long as I play loud and slow enough she doesn’t run. The rest is mostly the chorus melody. As I have already sung this chorus the phrasing comes easy and I play exactly as I would sing it. I like to think that maybe the chorus listens to the orchestra and will copy the phrasing, but maybe that’s too much to  ask. And than comes the gypsy chorus, and it is just as I remember. There’s not much interesting stuff to do for the chorus, especially the women, but I remember that I sang it so passionately a few years ago that I began to cry. And playing it is even better. It’s very impressive, just as I remember from my childhood. Too bad the piccolo player is a runner (and worse then the flute player; fast notes don’t necessarily mean that you have to play faster), because she takes the whole orchestra with her, including the conductor. Not such a great thing for the clarinets, as our part is transcribed from clarinet in C, and at the end of a three hour long rehearsal my fingers barely keep up with me. The transcription got us stuck with and F#-G# trill, that is followed by E#-F#-C# (so no tricks there) and later on we have the B-C# trill, where I trick the change of register but my C# is a quarter tone too low. I guess it’s the effect that counts….

Anyway, today is the general rehearsal (let’s see how many people don’t show up) and after rehearsal we are all treated to the traditional orchestra dinner. It’ll be a night of fun and good food. I hope you all have a great ‘day of the innocent children’ (I was told that’s something like April fools here in Spain).

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