Monday 3 December 2007


I played in a concert on Sat with the main orchestra that I play in outside work. We did Sibelius Karelia Suite, Elgar The Enigma Variations and Nielsen 4 'The Inextinguishable.' It went well and a fun time was had by all. It was however, 'a big blow,' or as my section principal tends, so quaintly to put it, 'a serious smack in the gob.' So much so that at the end of Enigma, he had a four bar (unscripted)rest before having to whizz up to a top A, so I had to blast a bit more so that the over all section dynamic remained fff. Fortunately, my mighty Alex 103, see pic, is good for cutting through, when needed. Mostly I aim for the noble, round Dennis Brain (of happy horn player memory) sound.

We played Nimrod on 9th July, 2 days after 7/7 at St Paul's Covent Garden. There was a chance they would cancel it, but it went ahead and afterwards there were plenty of people at the pub. We did have to have another tuba player. The usual one was on the train adjacent to the one that blew up at Edgeware Rd and didn't feel like coming out to play. The brass fixer offered to cab him in, but he wasn't up to it.

Anyway, this is a happy orchestra. I've played in it for about six years and the people are friendly and the conductor very good. He is a timpanist, so in the final rehearsal when all the percussionists come and the hired percussion too, (for the orch owns nothing,) we laugh at how long it is before he asks the timp player if he has any harder sticks. This time she (as it goes) had to get wooden ones out. He usually ends up telling them that they are hired, so they can hit them as hard as they like-and they do!

Nielsen 4 has two pairs of timps on either side of the orch and the last page of my part was rather like playing through surround sound thunder. The last note was rather exciting - drop down to mp whilst the timps did their bong bong ...I, V, I, V you know the sort of thing, then tutti cresc to well very loud on strings up bow.

Some of it sounds like Mahler. Long major chords with a bit of 4-3 type movement are just good. Nielsen seemed to have to keep disrupting his lyrical writing with rather more terse counterpoint and some discordant stuff which seemed a shame. I heard this once with the CBSO and felt the same.

My Mum was chuffed cos the horns got a stand after Karelia. Well we do play the tune at the beginning and we have to hand stop.

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