Saturday, November 05, 2005

Early morning update

On Thursday I went to Carnegie Hall. Remember those tickets I bought back when I was still employed? The Chicago Symphony was in town to play Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante (the wind one) and Bruckner's 5th Symphony. I hadn't ever heard the Bruckner, but the Mozart (but was it really his?) is one of my favorite pieces ever. I've probably already written this a few times but here goes. I got my "I must play in an orchestra before I die" bug around this time last year. I needed to pick up a new instrument and figured I'd stay in the woodwind family. I immediately eliminated the flute because I had never been able to produce sound on it and I had heard that bassoons were really expensive (plus they looked so big) so I eliminated that too. I was familiar with the clarinet since I had one at home, but I was vaguely aware that there was one other instrument. Oh yeah, the oboe. By this time I had already fallen in love with the sound of the English Horn and was slowly starting to listen to more oboe music too. At first I couldn't really distinguish it well so I ended up listening to a lot of Baroque oboe concertos. However, I didn't immediately warm up to the Baroque sound and almost got completely turned off by it. Anyway, so around one year ago I looked through my Classical CD collection to see if I had anything featuring an oboe. I had interned at Sony many years ago and they gave out free CDs. No one ever picked up the Classical ones so by the end of the Summer I had over 100! The only thing featuring an oboe was a CD of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. I loved the piece from the get go. It was so lively yet delicate. Since it also features a clarinet, I couldn't always tell it apart from the oboe at first, but with time I was better able to distinguish the sound. I think I listened to that piece every single day last November in order to decide which instrument I'd play. I would always enjoy the clarinet lines, but once the oboe came in it would feel like I was being bathed in sunlight (by the way, it's John de Lancie on my recording). Though I didn't make my official decision until after some trial lessons, this piece was just as pivotal to me as the Swan of Tuonela. So when I saw that it was going to be played at Carnegie, I had to see it.

Boy was I in for a surprise. Of course I assumed that the Chicago Symphony would be good. But guess who was the oboe soloist?????? Alex Klein!!

I guess I should have known. The thought did cross my mind at some point but I wasn't sure if he was still affiliated with them at all. I got there early and was reading the program and when I saw his name my excitement rose to fever pitch. I wanted to tell everyone around me "OMG, Alex Klein is going to play this!". That's when I regretted buying the cheap ass tickets I got (and forgetting my binoculars). Oh well.

Sooooo the performance ended up being extra special because he is indeed a fantabulous player. Hehe, I even made up a word. I couldn't find absolutely any fault in his playing. His intonation was absolutely perfect. Even on that one really high note near the end of the piece. His sound was very beautiful though they were all playing in that sort of bright, Mozart style. What impressed me the most was his expression. Sometimes when you get so used to a specific recording you can't immediately appreciate a different interpretation. I was initially worried about that, but my worries were unfounded. I am still a complete novice at phrasing, etc. but know that I play a little better I guess I have more concrete ideas about how I feel the lines. His interpretation of them was very gratifying to me. I was expecting him to play it kind of strictly but he seemed to have a lot of fun with it and was way more expressive. For example on the kind of hairy part in the first movement (the part that's in minor and in sixteenth notes I believe) he started it off with just the slightest bit of rubato. Not sure how to explain this well, it was as though he very slightly elongated the very first note of that phrase. It was so great because it gave it tension and a lot of momentum. Ahh I had such a wonderful time (even though the conductor tended to rush a lot of the horn solos). What a wonderful and memorable rendition. I feel so lucky to have had a chance to hear him play.

I won't talk much about the Bruckner well because I went in not knowing anything about it and I feel the same way even after having listened to it. I had only gotten 2 hours of sleep the night before so maybe that hampered the experience for me. All I remember is that it was pretty long. Mahler is long, but I've really enjoyed his music. I think I need to listen to this Bruckner again. All I remember is that the brass was really loud. And that the principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony has a lovely, lovely dark sound.

Regarding my own travails: I am still struggling to get back into things after the Double Reed Day, a bout of illness, and three midterms. My practicing has gone out of kilter and my reed making has grinded to a halt. I have a lesson again on Wednesday so I am hoping my teacher can help me get back on track. I am very saddened by this turn of events but am confident that I can make it work because this is still what I want the most. Lately I have been feeling that absolutely everything is up in the air and that I barely know myself some days. But my desire to be the best oboist I can be is still there, burning brightly and very strong. I just need to get over this hurdle. I need to learn how to manage my time, pronto. It is totally doable to get my hour, maybe two, in every day. One thing that should help is that the quartet might start meeting again in two weeks.

Oh and the grades are in!!
Organic Chemistry: A-
Bio Lab Practical: A-
Biology: B-

Not too bad. I was most excited about the Orgo grade because I really needed it. Bio was a tiny bit disappointing especially since I had changed some answers which had I left would have resulted in a B/B+.

I hope that all my readers (hopefully you guys are still out there) are well.