What I Did On My Holidays – 2015

Band Camp Report – 2015

Following on from the 2014 Band Camp Report

This year, I was scheduled almost entirely for playing double bass, but managed to get a few friendly sessions scheduled on the cello for a bit of light relief.

The list below ignores non-instrumental work (such as Barbershop quartets, singing the Fauré Requiem, etc…)

Saturday evening

The usual big orchestra session to get things going:

  • Mozart – Symphony #31 – Paris
  • Schubert – Unfinished

And then the first of the late nights…

Sunday

String quintets:

  • Dvorak Op 77
  • Onslow Op 35. This is a bit odd – it’s a string quartet plus one extra, the one in question being a viola or a cello or a double bass – there are different parts depending on who you get as the extra. This time, I played it on bass…

Then some orchestral stuff:

  • Mozart – Symphony 1
  • Haydn – Symphony 31
  • Mozart – Symphony 29

An unscheduled revisit of the Onslow quintet. This time, I played the second cello part – subtly different to the double bass part.

The evening started off with a rather unusual session – bassoon sextets. String quartet, double bass, and bassoon. It felt as though these were cut-down (or mini) concertos:

  • Francaix – “Divertissement”
  • Oivind Westby – “Portrait of a Family” – five movements, each titled for a member of a family. I pity the mother – she sounded on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

The evening ended with a romp through Brahms’s first sextet (with me back on the cello).

Monday

Monday started slowly with a string orchestra session:

  • Warlock – Capriol Suite
  • Delius – Deux Aquarelles – not the most exciting of bass parts…
  • Dag Wiren – Serenade. Much more interesting.

I then took the double bass and ventured into the lions’ den, sorry, the massed wind ensemble, where I was required to run through a Geoffrey “Red Hedgehog” Emerson arrangement of Glazunov’s concert Waltz, op 47. Apparently, the arrangement was in the wrong key. I wouldn’t know – I just play what’s in front of me, guv. I was then ousted by my aunt and her contra-bassoon for the rest of the session.

After lunch, a return to the bad old days with me being a cellist again, for a rendition of Boccherini’s “Black Lace” quintet. Fortunately, I’m still relegated to 2nd! (Edit: Black Lace quintet is apparently a reworking by Lauterbach of four movements from other string quintets. The IMSLP page for what we know as the Black Lace quintet doesn’t contain the words, but does give the sources for the individual movements…)

The evening kicked off with an octet session – same instrumentation as the Schubert, but not the Schubert (that was happening in the next room, mutter grumble). So we ended up playing octets by:

  • Wellesz – bleah. Not impressed. Apparently he taught my father composition. I’m saying nothing. Nothing.
  • Zich – this one is a much more playable thing, full of Czech folk tunes. But it’s still not as good as the Schubert!

And then the night got a bit silly as 5/6 of Sunday’s sextet reconvened under a different leader to do Brahms’s second sextet. And then re-do the first one. And then, “while we’re here”, to run through Strauss’s sextet from Capriccio. Yeah, we were playing a bit late. And then we went to the bar, and stayed there until rather late. Early. Well, I was in bed before 3am, but not much before…

Tuesday

Fortunately, after last night, this is the usual “day of rest”. Or, in our case, “day of trying to fix my wife’s shoulder so she could do some more playing.” Didn’t quite go to plan, and she needs more serious / long-running / comprehensive treatment. I dunno, seems like only two years ago that our week was marred by her dodgy ankle.

The only playing today for me was yet another orchestral session, containing:

  • Beethoven – Romance for violin. Can’t remember which one. Oops.
  • Mozart – Piano concerto #23.
  • Mendelssohn – Symphony 4 (Italian) – some cracking speeds here

Bar, and relatively early night.

Wednesday

A quiet day.

Wednesday always starts off with a big string orchestra workshop, where we actually try to do something more than just play through. This year, it was the Suk Serenade.

Beethoven Septet – the usual family affair.

And the evening started off with the Strauss Metamorphosen (septet version).

The late night session involved more alcohol, and an odd selection of music, including:

  • A practice session of Bach’s suite in B minor (flute solo job) for the soloist to get her eye in for a proper run at it on Friday
  • Brandenburg 5 – the one with the monster keyboard solo
  • a very late night drunken Trout with the violinist (a first-time attendee) & viola player both sightreading.

Thursday

A busier day. Highlights include (but not limited to):

  • Mezo – quintet (two flutes, clarinet, bassoon, double bass). I have no memory of this, so it can’t have been too bad!
  • Gordon Jacob – woodwind quartets (one flutist disappeared, and I got out my oboe – I’ve not played for a couple of decades) – a simple suite, and some folk song arrangements.
  • Vaughan Williams – Concerto Grosso – with my son playing in the open string violins, and (shock!) actually beginning to take this stuff a bit more seriously
  • Nielsen – “Little Suite” – there’s a few moments here!
  • Sibelius – Andante Festivo
  • Spohr – Grand Nonet. An unscheduled session, and we had about 40 minutes to get through it, so there were some rather quick movements!
  • Hartmann – Serenade
  • Nielsen – Serenata in vano

These last two – the Nielsen is scored for cello, bass, clarinet, bassoon, horn. Add in a wind quintet, and you get the required personnel for the Hartmann. Neat trick.

Friday

The day kicked off with a baroque session:

  • Bach – Brandenburg concerto #3 – can’t go through the whole week without one of these being scheduled somewhere!
  • Vivaldi – violin concerto in A minor
  • Bach – Suite in B minor (see practice session above)
  • Pachelbel – Canon & Gigue. I’ve mentioned this thing before, and there’s always Rob Paravonian’s Pachelbel Rant. I managed to get the flute soloist from the previous piece to do some of the bowing for me. She seemed to enjoy the power far too much! There could be trouble ahead…

After coffee, a rather unsatisfactory sextet session:

  • Percy Hilder Miles – I mentioned this in 2013, and my views haven’t changed. And neither have anybody else’s.
  • Schaffner op 48 – except our glorious leader didn’t want to do this, so I got my cello and we did
  • Dvorak sextet – much better music. Shame we weren’t quite up to it for some reason.

The afternoon and evening were mostly various orchestral sessions:

  • Prokofiev – Peter & The Wolf. I’ve never done this before. Looks like it should be easy, but there are a few hairy moments not helped by some dodgy cues in the edition we were using
  • Fauré Req. Oh, wait. I was singing. Bah.
  • Mendelssohn – Hebrides overture (Fingal’s Cave, if you prefer). Not played this since my days with the City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, so a nice trip down memory lane…
  • Bruch – Kol Nidrei – never done this with an orchestra before, but used to know the cello solo!
  • Beethoven – Symphony #5 – *how* fast?

Apparently, it was the organiser’s aim to leave us all broken and sweaty at the end of that session. Except I then went on to do another (much better) session of the Strauss Metamorphosen – thanks to us having a much stronger group of players (led by the leader of the Smith Quartet (he’s one of the sons of the organiser, and just dropped in for the evening)) this time round.

So the week ended on a high. Or a low – bottom C at the end of the Strauss!

And now I’m back home, aching, and thinking it’s a bit early to go to bed, but it’s already way past my normal bed time. The things you get used to at Band Camp!

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