Posts tagged ‘Symphony’

September 28, 2012

Haydn Symphonies – Reduced

I just spent an evening playing a couple of late Haydn symphonies – Symphony 94 – Surprise & Symphony 104 – London. These were an official, Haydn-endorsed reduction done by Johann Peter Salomon for String Quartet + Flute, and have recently been re-edited by Christopher Hogwood. (I keep wanting to write “Hogwash” or “Hogweed” there… I blame my father.) A friend has added a double bass part to these to add a bit of oomph – mainly by taking the orchestral bass part, with a couple of extra bits where the cello in the reduction has to go filling in something else…

Not particularly challenging apart from the odd semiquaver passage, but fun, and worth a heads-up. (“Surprise” needs a bottom C for the slow movement, and the bass part I was playing had its own surprise in a bit of triple & quadruple-stopping. Thank you Tony!)

August 26, 2012

Bizet – Symphony in C

This seems to be a work written when Bizet was a student, which he then put aside and forgot about. It was first performed in 1935, at which point Bizet was (a) 97 years old, and (b) very dead…

It’s good and jolly, but there are some very long repeats – even us basses had to turn pages to get back to the top! Apart from that, there’s not much to worry us. The movements look tame, but the time signatures and tempi are brisker than you might expect from looking at it.

The really interesting bit is in the second (slow) movement. We’re in 9/8, it feels like a big slow 3, and it’s all going nice and easily until figure [5] when we’re suddenly exposed (fortunately doubling the cello section, but even so)… This excerpt starts from figure [5], and runs to the bar of figure [6], and is just a little uncomfortable:

The last two movements go at a cracking pace, but there’s nothing much else to worry us.

October 24, 2009

"Classical Spooktacular"

A cheesy title for this afternoon’s concert by the WYSO, which was a child-friendly early Halloween concert.

Programme included the obvious suspects for such a gig:
  • Grieg – Hall of the Mountain King
  • Mussorgsky – Night on a Bare Mountain
  • Monster Mash
  • Berlioz – Witches Sabbath (you know, the last movement of Symphonie Fantastique)
  • Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries (a somewhat dumbed-down arrangement)
  • Saint-SaĆ«ns – Danse Macabre
  • “Dem Bones” (with some words I don’t recall from my childhood)
  • John Williams – Harry Potter Suite (from the first movie)

There were prizes for fancy dress, audience participation, and other odds and ends to help keep the younger members of the audience involved, and create the occasional distraction for us in t’band – pseudo Mexican-waves, racing witches, skeletons, etc, but no helicopters during the Wagner.

Anything to worry about from the bassist point of view?  No, not really, thanks to the arrangement of the Valkyries

September 4, 2009

Haydn – Farewell Symphony

I was recently asked to join a local orchestra for a performance of Haydn’s Symphony 45 – “Farewell”. Unfortunately, I was unable to accept their invitation; however, an alarm bell did start ringing…

So I found a copy of the cello / bass part, and had a quick flick through. Nothing to worry about by looking at the first page – 3 sharps, big deal. But my memory was telling me there was a passage in 6 sharps, and a rather exposed bass solo. And, me being a bit pessimistic about these things, I thought that it might be that the solo itself was in 6 sharps. Oh dear. So I had to keep looking…

First movement – nothing to worry about. Second movement – an awkward “Scotch Snap” type rhythm at the beginning of the second half, but not much of a problem. Third movement – Minuet & Trio – again, nothing there apart from the 6 sharp key signature. It must be in the Finale.

The finale. “Presto”. Oh dear. Thankfully, only 3 sharps in the key signature. But again, nothing immediately obvious until I turned on to the last page, where the presto leads into an Adagio passage (whew!) in 3/8, which seems to be about the point where Haydn starts sending the players home. And there we have it – the dread phrase “uno Basso solo”, with an exposed triplet semiquaver passage.

And here’s that passage for future reference (click for a bigger version suitable for printing and practising):