Archive for August, 2014

August 26, 2014

A word about bows

At “Band Camp” this year, the first few days I played on my usual bow.

On Tuesday evening, our friend Tim Baker, the cellist and bowmaker (not necessarily in that order), arrived.

I’ve been joking with him for at least fifteen years about getting him to try making me a bass bow; finally, he’s done it. He started off by apologising for it being a bit long (he was a bit worried, as his bowmaking colleagues in Oberlin said it was too long). I pointed out that, yes, it’s longer than normal, and then showed him the two bows I normally play. The Baker Bow was about the same length as one, and a good couple of inches shorter than the other.

Tim asked me to “play it in”, so everything I played from Wednesday onwards was done on a bow worth rather more than my bass… It hurt, having to give it back on Friday night. Going back to my bow yesterday (for yet another rendition of Brandenburg 4), I suddenly found my bow was much harder work.

Yes, a good bow does make a lot of difference – not only to the tone you produce, but the effort required to play, the clarity of what you’re playing, the response time of the bass, and, frankly, it was because of this bow that I was able to get round some of the more interesting passages later in the week!

Tim – I thank you.

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August 26, 2014

What I Did On My Holidays – 2014

Band Camp Report – 2014

Following on from 2013’s report, ignoring the drinking, late nights, games of “Cards Against Humanity”,
and only thinking about instrumental work (almost entirely double bass)…

Saturday evening

The week kicked off for me with a big orchestral session:

Sunday

The morning was full of orchestral stuff – strings only, then a full symphony orchestra (well, almost full – we still don’t have a full complement of brass / percussion…)

  • Albinoni – Concerto op 7 number 1
  • Britten Simple Symphony
  • Elgar Serenade
  • Finally, for the all-strings, a quartet arrangement of Teddy Bears Picnic. The cello part, on bass, is fun.

 

  • Haydn Symphony 89
  • Mozart Piano Concerto K453
  • CPE Bach symphony in D 138/1 (NB: Unusually, second movt has a proper independent double bass part – not doubling anything else. Makes a nice change.)

The afternoon was full of cello stuff – Bachanianas Brasilieras (the one for 8 cellos, playing #2 – *how* high?), an arrangement of Yesterday (12 cellos, playing #3), Oklahoma (8 cellos, playing #2)

Quintets in the evening – Dvorak op.77, followed by
Onslow op 38 Bullet quintet (bass part is really a 2nd cello part, so I played it on that for a change)

Monday

  • Strauss – Metamorphosen (septet version). The full 23-parter is up later in the week…
  • Von Wilm – nonet (all strings). A few moments…
  • Saint-Saens piano sextet – erm. Why bother? Third movement only; very few actual notes…

In the evening, some Decets – String quartet, bass, wind quintet:

  • Dubois – Dixtuor
  • Lalo – Aubades
  • Dvorak – Bagatelles (incl Canon) arr Geoffrey Emerson (except the Canon, which should be #4 in the series, which was arranged by someone else…)

Tuesday

A day off for doing other stuff, but not the evening off. Another orchestral session:

  • Vaughan Williams – Lark Ascending
  • Butterworth – Banks of Green Willow
  • Mendelssohn – Scottish Symphony

Then over to the cello for a run of Mozart’s flute quartets (three out of four played…)

Wednesday

A mixed day

  • Dvorak – Serenade for Strings
  • Schubert – Octet (we were slated to do the Kaun as well, but didn’t get round to it…)
  • Saint-Saens – Septet (string quartet, piano, trumpet, bass)
  • D’Indy – Suite in Olden Style (trumpet, 2 flutes, violin, viola, cello, bass)
  • Mixed nonets – Spohr & Rheinberger
  • Bach – all six Brandenburg concertos, one to a part

The Brandenburgers were exhausted by the end of the day – we started that session at 10pm! Some cracking tempi, and not too much dithering / drinking meant that we were through by 00:30ish

Thursday

The day kicked off with the bass part of the Dvorak wind serenade.

Then onto some string orchestra stuff:

  • Elgar “Sospiri”
  • Holst St Paul’s Suite
  • Finzi – Concerto for Clarinet & Strings

Then the annual Beethoven Septet (with 5/7 parts taken by my family members); last two movements of Conrad Kreutzer’s septet for the same combo. Perfectly acceptable, but not quite as memorable…

An impromptu Brandenburg 3, to see off a departing violaist

Finally, Schubert – Trout quintet followed by RVW’s quintet for the same combo. An early work, but it had some moments…

Friday

The day kicked off with various baroquery:

  • Albinoni – Concerto for 2 oboes, op 7 no 5
  • Telemann concertos in e minor and g major
  • a couple of Brandenburgs (3 & 4) – yes, I played Brandenburg 3 three times in as many days. And it’s the one with three of everything…

Some more big orchestral stuff to round off the morning:

  • Strauss Metamorphosen (the big version, unfortunately with a contrabassoon on 3rd bass)
  • another bash at the Finzi clarinet concerto
  • and an arrangement for string orchestra of the sextet from Strauss’s Capriccio.

The playing part of the afternoon was Mozart’s Gran Partita K361. Blimey, but there are some notes in there, and I will be blogging them properly later. Probably.

The week ended with a final big orchestral hurrah!:

  • Beethoven – Wellington’s Victory

  • Strauss – Horn Concerto (again)
  • Beethoven – Symphony 8

A good end to the week.

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