This weekend in South Bend we are playing Elgar's Enigma Variations, which is one of my favorite works to perform. I love the concept - variations representing each of the composer's friends - and it is orchestrated beautifully. Every entrance I play feels comfortable on the instrument (if not easy) and feels welcome in the ensemble. Maybe that's a strange statement, but there's a warmth to the piece which makes it a real pleasure to participate in, and which I believe translates to the audience's experience of it as well.
Also on the program is Ravel's Bolero, another masterfully orchestrated work. The melody and tempo remain the same throughout the piece, but Ravel makes it interesting by constantly changing the timbres and tone colors that we hear and building the dynamic and intensity dramatically to the end. It's an audience favorite, and a bassoonist's nightmare. It's also one of the very few non-baroque works to make use of an oboe d'amore, which is an instrument pitched between the oboe and the English horn. I don't get to play it this time, as the d'amore solo appears in the second oboe part, but I do get to enjoy it.
We also have TWO guest soloists, on violin and trumpet, and this concert should be an excellent one. I'm looking forward to our first rehearsal tonight!