Skip to main content

Upcoming Concert: Chamber Music with Piano

This Wednesday night I have the opportunity to perform the Mozart Piano Quintet and the Poulenc Sextet for Piano and Winds.  Both are works I’ve done before, and both are absolute favorites of mine. 



The Mozart Quintet in Eb is simply unarguable.  Gorgeously, perfectly written, great tunes, perfect textures, satisfying harmonies.  The difficulty with performing Mozart always is that the music is just so perfect.  Any imperfection on the part of the performers is audible to the listeners, and I feel personally at fault if I play a bit out of tune or lean on the wrong part of the cadence.  Mozart deserves better than me, is what I think.  If I could only play this more perfectly, the world would be perfect.  In other Mozart works - the oboe quartet leaps to mind - I don’t feel so much intimidating personal responsibility - but this quintet is just so good.  I don’t want to be the one to wreck it for everyone.  And that said, it’s a treat to get to play it - and then to be allowed to let loose in the Poulenc.



The Poulenc Sextet is uproarious.  Every biography I read about the composer stresses the time and place of his coming of age - Paris in the 1920’s - and with good reason.  This piece reflects the busy street scenes, clubs, and music halls that Poulenc would have visited as a young man, and uses the colors of the wind instruments in a delightfully irreverent way.   Right from the beginning, as the piano and horn sweep the curtains up, the composer telegraphs to us that we are in for a heightened, overdramatic work of burlesque and cheerful music hall shenanigans.  He breaks the giddiness up with episodes of lovely melodic writing for all of our instruments, but never really allows the audience to get comfortable there.   The first movement is fast-slow-fast, the second slow-fast-slow.  The third movement allows some huge melodic gestures in the horn to sneak in over the top of the busy scampering we all do - then stops abruptly and ends slowly, dramatically, and with unexpected grandeur.  It’s a FUN piece to play, and it leaves listeners smiling.

So come out and join us tomorrow night!  We’ll be the ones having a blast on the stage, you’ll be the ones enjoying yourselves enormously in the seats.  Details HERE.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.


What a LIBERATING concept!


When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.


I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …