RCCO: The pre-game show

There are some pieces that are great fun to perform, but perhaps not that rewarding to work on. These tend to be works that are high on adrenaline and testosterone that need a big arc of energy, but that perhaps don’t present a lot of opportunities for in depth tweaking and exploration. For me, the perfect example of this is Night on Bald Mountain in the popular Rimsky Korsakov arrangement. The orchestration is so perfect and the shape of the piece so natural that it almost doesn’t need rehearsal.

On the other hand, the great classical era works, from Haydn up through Mendelssohn and Schubert, are ones you really can rehearse or analyze or explore forever without ever exhausting the opportunities for discovery. Certainly both pieces on today’s RCCO concert are like that. Rehearsing them has been an absolute joy, and even though the orchestra is in good shape, I could have very happily continued to work on either or both of them indefinitely. There is always something to discover that’s not just mildly interesting but totally astounding. I’ve conducted the Schubert in this arrangement before and have played the quartet zillions of times but still just stand back in a state of wonder at the piece.

But that’s the funny thing about a good concert- you look forward to it even while feeling a bit melancholy about saying goodbye to the program.

Anyway, this week has gone faster than most, thanks to the magic of muscle relaxants. I had grand plans to buy some new concert clothes and run a bunch of errands. None of that went down, so I apologize in advance to the concert-going public of Portland for my slovenly appearance this afternoon.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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1 comment on “RCCO: The pre-game show”

  1. Bill Brice

    My nomination for the “fun to perform but unrewarding to work on” list:

    Orff — Carmina Burana

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