What I Did On My Holidays – 2013

Band Camp Report – 2013

So, following on from last year’s report, and only thinking about double bass work…

Saturday

Logistically, this year was made more complicated by my wife’s recent accident, meaning we had to cram everything into one car. Fortunately, our new shiny Skoda Superb is significantly bigger than the old wagon, and everything (bass, cello, stool, large stands, violins, viola, three people + normal luggage for the week) all fitted in.

The musical week started off with an orchestral session:

  • Haydn – Symphony 104
  • Gounod Symphony #1

And a long catch-up session with friends, nattering into the small hours.

Sunday

String orchestra:

  • Dowland – something-or-other. Can’t remember any specifics
  • Wagner – Adagio for Clarinet & Strings
  • Britten – Simple Symphony
  • Warlock – Capriol

A string quintet session. We were scheduled to do the Dvorak & Onslow, but decided to have a bash at the arrangement I found of Mussorgsky’s Pictures in an Exhibition at IMSLP. It’s definitely a transcription from the original piano, rather than a reduction of Ravel’s arrangement. Needs beefy players throughout. And there’s a mistake in the bass part – a few bars missing. Must remember to do something about that.

Skipping over the massed cello stuff…

The day was supposed to end with me playing bass for a load of Bach Brandenburgs and other concertos, but the room wasn’t big enough, so I went and joined a wind ensemble and pretended to be a contrabassoon or tuba as required:

  • Du Grau – Les clochettes (contrabassoon part. Needs bottom Bflats; I have a four-string bass. Do the maths.)
  • Strauss – Suite in B flat, op 4. (Contrabassoon or tuba).
  • Strauss – Serenade op 7.  (Ditto)
  • Glazunov, op 47 – this is an actual string bass part. Yay!

Great fun. More drinking & nattering til the small hours.

Monday

Start the day with a full morning of string orchestra stuff, including:

  • Elgar – Six Easy Pieces, op22
  • Mozart – Serenade 6, k239. An independent bass part – there are some solo accompaniment bits that would repay inspection
  • Elgar – Serenade op 20
  • Peter Thompson – a chap who wrote various bits for the Peterfield Area Schools’ String Orchestra (PASSO) – a couple of bits (Fanfare & Theme for PASSO). “Double bass optional”. Riiight.

Ended the day with a nonet session – Martinu & Onslow. I was right – the Onslow does repay further inspection. There are shades of Hammer Horror in the first movement, with lots of steady chromatics.

Tuesday

Day Of Rest. Do something else during the day, and then back to the music in the evening with an orchestral session.

  • Vaughan Williams – Serenade (1898) in A for (small) Orchestra
  • Mozart – Symphony #40 – I found a mistake in the bass parts. *sigh*

Wednesday

A gentle day.

  • Verdi – String Symphony. Actually someone’s arrangement of the string quartet in E for string orchestra. Not an interesting bassline, as it’s mostly just doubling the cellos except when the cellos are doing something interesting, and then we get to double the violas…
  • Schubert – Octet
  • Stanford – Serenade op. 95. Mild amusement as we started the last movement as it sounds like “Postman Pat”.

Thursday

Full-on today.

  • Schubert – Trout quintet. Breaking my personal rules about “no Trout before coffee”. I didn’t give of my best, which was a shame.
  • Quilter – piano sextet “Gypsy Life”. Add in a violin to the Trout combo. A short piece.
  • Dowland – Lachrymae. Again.
  • Britten – Lachrymae (on a theme by, erm, Dowland)
  • Britten – prelude & fugue for 18 strings. Again. Took second part this time, to give weight to the start of the fugue.
  • Wagner – Siegfried Idyll.
  • Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker. Reduced by one of our number, this was by way of a test run / playtest.
  • Mendelssohn – Piano sextet op 110. Doesn’t feel as mature as some of his other works, but perfectly playable.
  • Holbrook – piano sextet op 46. Bleah. I don’t know if it was us not being up to the job, or the music, but this just didn’t click for us this evening.

Friday

The final day. And a big one. And I’m having brain fail about what we played… But I definitely played the following:

  • Britten – Sinfonietta. This I found surprisingly playable (I’m not a big fan of Benji…)
  • Percy Hilder Miles – string sextet (2 violin, 2 viola, cello, bass). None of us thought this worth playing beyond the first couple of pages, as it wasn’t going anywhere.
  • Krug – Preis-Sextet. Originally scored for 2 violins, violotta (a big violin, tuned an octave below the violin), viola, cello, and cellone (a big cello, tuned a 4th below the cello). Seemed to work better with the violotta part going to viola 1, and the viola 1 part going to viola 2. The cellone part was not satisfactorily adapted for cello 2 (and that arrangement definitely didn’t work on the bass), so it looks like I’ve got some homework to do to rearrange this. Good stuff, though!
  • “Red Hedgehogs”, it says here. This is shorthand for a collection of music arranged by Geoffrey Emerson for wind band. In this case, we did:
    • Mozart – symphony 38 “Prague”
    • Elgar – Serenade in E minor op 20
    • Tchaikovsky – Serenade in C op 48

    It felt rather odd – the cues I’m used to from playing these pieces coming from the wrong instruments and the wrong place!

  • Mozart – Symphony 27 (I think – this is where the memory is fading)
  • Haydn – Farewell symphony
  • Spohr – Grand Nonet
  • Rheinberger – Nonet

What a day. What a way to end the week. I think this was the busiest of band camps (for me) since 2005!

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