Blog Launch - Beethoven 5

BSO Week 1 / Marcelo Lehninger, Conductor: 9/17, 9/18, 9/19 

  • Beethoven: No. 5
    • Thein Kruspe Alto Trombone (shortened)
    • Thein 11C Mouthpiece

Tuesday and Friday evenings are going to be my blog days for as long as I can sustain it.  There is so much more I want to discuss for which Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ can be appropriate.  After a successful summer at Tanglewood that included recitals and masterclasses around the U.S.. Also a shared recital at BUTI and the Berkshire Brass Festival, not withstanding an extremely successful website launch, I found that so many of the pics or topics I brought up on social media lacked explanation or discussion like we all wanted.  Blogging a couple times a week hopefully will be a place I can post thoughts for discussion, pictures, and videos that will hopefully be relevant and available to you in a "more meat on the bone" kind of fashion.

On Friday nights, I would love to tell you what's great about the concert we are playing while there is still time to see it on Saturday or in addition, sometimes Tuesday evenings when the BSO performs at Symphony Hall.  Also, it would be fun to put out to the world the equipment we are using for the repertoire in question as that has spurred must discussion by default since I brought it up with my Bolero comparison on YouTube at the midpoint of the summer.

For Tuesday Blog posts, I believe the life of a trombone player is also a worthy discussion topic. We work hard and practice long hours when no one is looking to play parts that do not always warrant a great deal of glory but there is more to what we do than the orchestral jobs we strive for and it is necessary to discuss the supplements to our existence, be they video games, coffee, travel, teaching, or yoga.  

This week is a lighter concert for the BSO and the trombones are only needed for Beethoven 5.  There are audience participation elements that the orchestra gets used to, for example, the thunderous applause that usually erupts at the end of the the 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky 6 from the great many patrons that are either over excited or evidently not aware there is still one more movement to go.  Truly, it is sad that I see many audience members stand up and leave as if the concert is over between the 3rd and 4th movement of Tchaik 6 but perhaps that is a discussion for another day.  The opening of Beethoven 5 is always accompanied with a certain amount audience chortle, almost as if they were not aware that their cell phone ring is actually the beginning of a larger 40 minute work. 

Beethoven is easily in my top 5 list of composers to play.  Even though the trombones only get to play symphonies 5, 6, and 9, I am so grateful that I get to be a part of these amazing experiences in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  My favorite part of his symphonies 5 and 6 is sitting near the Double Bass section as they are highlighted in the 3rd movement of both symphonies.  There is a clarity to BSO Bass section's ensemble that goes far beyond starting and ending phrases together.  It comes down to a micro precision of pitch and especially style that is more and more evident the closer the listener can be to them.  Indeed, sometimes I feel sad the audience can't be as close to the music as I am for how exciting it is to be in the middle of all this exciting music making and ensemble.  Near the key change after rehearsal B in the 3rd movement, for example, the double basses sound like an elephant in ballet shoes so perfectly tiptoeing that sometimes in performances I have to stare at the floor so the audience doesn't see me on the verge of a giggle.  All of this is just one part of a well known piece being played with such precision and ensemble awareness that it's easy to get distracted from the fact that it actually is one of the more challenging 1st trombone parts to play.