Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Difference Between a Bassoon & a Violin

Here's a funny story to follow up on the performances of Beethoven's Symphony #4 that the BSO performed a few weeks ago, and that the Berkeley College Orchestra of Yale University also performed, with my son Stephen conducting, the same weekend.

We were comparing notes that week, and I asked how the violins were doing with the very difficult last movement. Stephen said the violins were really cooking, then he told me about the notoriously hard bassoon lick midway through the last movement. It is a few bars of very fast 16th notes more suited for violins than for bassoons! In the dress rehearsal, Stephen looked up at the bassoonist to give him a cue for this passage, but the bassoon was sitting on the musician's lap, and the musician just shook his head "no," as if to say "you gotta be kidding me."

In the end, Stephen and the bassoonist worked out the version of the passage to play for the concert. Seems like an effective technique; maybe I will try the instrument in the lap, shaking my head thing the next time we have an impossible passage! lol.

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