We had our rehearsal with the dancers today. They have rehearsed to a recording that features some very big liberties with tempo and lots of rubato.
This is very common in my experience. I remember playing Rossini's Semiramide Overture with the Joffrey Ballet many years ago. The piece went so fast, most of it was a blur. The dancers referred to it as "Confetti", not as "Semiramide". "Confetti, please everyone!!"
This illustrates a point about orchestra playing I'd like to emphasize. I feel it's very important to come into the first rehearsal with a well-conceived plan for how you want to play major solos, etc., and play that way when the solos first come up. BUT THEN, you need to be very flexible in order to give the conductor (or the dancers) what they want if it differs from your approach.
I often feel like playing in an orchestra has some similarities to being a maitre-d'hotel in a great restaurant. He (or she) knows the regular patrons so well, knows where they like to sit in the restaurant, knows what they like to order, knows what specials are especially good that night, having sampled them beforehand, and has this information in mind when patrons show up to be seated. However, sometimes diners want something different and the waiter needs to show resourcefulness and flexibility.
Yesterday I spent about an hour practicing the Berceuse and recording myself using 2 different bocals and several reeds to see what combination would work best. My choices worked well today in rehearsal. However, I don't always find that to be the case because my reeds can play a bit differently at home versus Severance Hall. The Cleveland area has many micro-climates that are variously effected by Lake Erie. Some reeds that sound great at home, don't at the hall.
Playing the Berceuse with our Orchestra is a dream because you can look over at the second violins while playing and notice how little bow they use during your solo. They all know it's a bassoon solo and try to accompany. Severance Hall is a treat to play in because there's rarely a need to force your sound. It goes out easily. I wish everyone could have this experience. God knows I've played in a lot worse situations!!
The concert is at 2:00pm tomorrow, but is sold out. Anyone still wanting tickets may be able to get standing room or proms seats, though.