Monday, October 2, 2017

Phyllis McGinley Song Cycle

It's been a year since the bassoon world lost one of its leading figures; K. David Van Hoesen. I thought it would be fitting to upload the wonderful recording he made with Jan DeGaetani


and his daughter, Gretchen Van Hoesen


of Alec Wilder's Phyllis McGinley Song Cycle. Listen here:


Here are the poems he set:






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Malambo, Nostalgica and Wilder videos

I've just uploaded some videos to YouTube.

Malambo, Op.115 by Miguel del Aguila. This is my live performance from May of this year with the MOSA quartet.


Nostalgica for Bassoon and String Quartet, also from May performance. Miguel revised this piece for our performance. 

And, continuing my homage to my former teacher, K. David Van Hoesen, here is his recording of Alec Wilder's Sonata #3 for Bassoon and Piano with Bill Dobbins.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bozza Recit, Sicilienne et Rondo

Recit, Sicilienne et Rondo by Eugene Bozza is one of the best Paris Conservatory pieces out there. I have just posted my live performance at the University of Arkansas from this past April on YouTube .

Anyone performing this piece will notice that the edition contains several obvious errors. I'll list them below.


BASSOON PART



  • In the first line above, the second turn should end in an E eighth note, not a C.
  • At the Lent indication, the 32nds should be in BASS CLEF, not tenor. This is from K. David Van Hoesen who told me that in an earlier edition, the clef change happened only at the beginning of the next line. The Bb (instead of F) start to the Lent makes more sense harmonically, since it fits with the quasi diminished 7th arpeggios just before it. An F would not fit. Also, the F gives an implied V-I cadence in a place where there is no functional harmony.
  •   Anyone playing through this page with a pianist will quickly discover that the measures rest tally at #5 is long by a measure. Also the rests in the fourth bar of #5 give that bar too much value.
  • A slur and tie are missing from the second measure before #10. Compare to 5 before #10.

PIANO PART 
  
There are errors in the piano part as well.

This is not an omission or error, but simply a way of making the opening more dramatic. This is what Van Hoesen added to the piano part. Try it! It sounds really great!



In the above, the 3/4 bars with the septuplets in them need a quarter rest, not an eighth. Perhaps the original had the old-fashioned French quarter rests that look like reversed eighth rests?


In the above, the rolled chords in the first two measures should be half notes, not quarters.















Saturday, August 12, 2017

Alborada del Gracioso

We're performing Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso this weekend. Originally composed as a piece for piano solo, Ravel himself orchestrated it. In doing so, he gave the four short solo lines about a third of the way through the piece to the bassoon.

 Beginning at 9, the bassoon has four short unaccompanied solos joined by shorter and shorter impressionistic interludes by the strings and percussion.

Prior to the first solo there is a massive orchestral chord. Wait a beat or two before starting to let the air clear!

All grace note groups in these solos should start with a light articulation. Tongue single grace notes and the first of a group of grace notes. Accented notes and notes with tenutos under big slurs should also receive a light articulation. This will help bring them out and give them the necessary tonal weight required by the recitativo indication. Don't stop the air prior to articulation under the big slurs, simply give the note in question a gentle nudge!

Notice the rhythmic accelerandos in the first and last solos. These should be executed with some freedom. Play them a bit as if notated as an accelerando on the SAME repeated note value ("basketball bouncing by itself on the gym floor" effect). Don't let them sound like a musical math problem!

The middle two solos, being shorter and smaller in pitch compass, should be more mellow and understated than the outer two.

Notice the combination of "faster" (pressez) and "softer" during the triplets in the fourth solo!  These two indications do not often go together -- louder/faster is more common.

Tempo for these solos should be slower than the interludes and can vary. Try them at roughly half the tempo of the interludes ( ♩=).








Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sestak 5 Inventions

I've just uploaded my performance of Zdenek Sestak's 5 Virtuoso Inventions for Bassoon to YouTube

This live performance is part of a recital I gave at the University of Arkansas on April 12th of this year.

I will be uploading other performances in the coming weeks, so subscribe to my channel for notifications. You may also subscribe to this blog to get notifications of postings.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A little help

Last week was quite busy. On Wednesday, I performed the Villa-Lobos Duo and Willard Elliot's Six French Songs from the 15th Century with Frank Rosenwein and Jerry Wong, piano. The day of the performance I had a double rehearsal of Schumann Symphony #3 with the Orchestra.

The weekend contained two concerts with heavy programs. In addition to the Schumann program, the other concert had Mozart Piano Concerto in c minor, No. 24 and Rachmaninov's Symphony #2.

In the weeks leading up to the performances, I was beginning to feel some pain in my left hand and thumb. I should note that we rehearsed and played the Villa-Lobos standing up, partly due to the lack of good places to turn pages. This added to the weight on my left hand.

Using a balance hanger when standing up is helpful to redistribute the weight because it relocates the fulcrum of balance so that the left hand carries less of it.

However, I was also looking for a way to take some of the weight off the left hand when sitting down. Using a neck strap in concert with a seat strap can work. The neck strap is tied to the back of the chair and hooked in the ring on the boot.

I wanted to show you something even better.


Chicago Symphony bassoonist, Dennis Michel gave this to me when we meet on our tour this January.

It consists of a clamp (available at any hardware store) with two holes drilled in it for an elastic band. The two holes are in addition to the factory drilled hole, which is in an inconvenient spot.The clamp fastens to the back of a chair.
Below is the clamp with the band itself with S-hook with snaps and a small cord lock on the other end.

The length/tension on the band can be adjusted by opening the lock and pulling or pushing the band through.
This is available from REI.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Reed blade measurements





1st WIRE UP

Left Rail

Left Channel
Center
Right Channel
Right Rail
TIP
.004"
.004"
.008"
.008"
.005"
1/8"
.0065"
.009"
.016"
.012"
.006"
1/4"
.008"
.015"
.0205"
.016"
.009"
3/8"
.0095"
.0185"
.024"
.0185"
.0125"
1/2"
.011"
.021"
.027"
.0205"
.015"
5/8"
.020"
.0235"
.0285"
.0215"
.018"
3/4"
.0235"
.026"
.030"
.023"
.0205"
7/8"
.027"
.0275"
.031"
.026"
.0245"
1"
.030"
.032"
.034"
.031"
.0305"

1st WIRE DOWN

Left Rail
Left Channel
Center
Right Channel
Right Rail
TIP
.005"
.006"
.009"
.007"
.005"
1/8"
.007"
.011"
.016"
.0115"
.006"
1/4"
.009"
.015"
.020"
.016"
.010"
3/8"
.013"
.020"
.0235"
.020"
.012"
1/2"
.015"
.022"
.027"
.021"
.0145"
5/8"
.017"
.023"
.029"
.023"
.020"
3/4"
.019"
.023"
.030"
.023"
.023"
7/8"
.023"
.025"
.030"
.025"
.028"
1"
.030"
.030'
.034"
.030"
.035"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reed Morgue again

In a previous post, I discussed the benefits of taking apart used reeds and measuring the blades. You can read about it here

What I didn't describe in the old post, was how to measure the blade. You can use a dial indicator to measure, but keep a few things in mind. Since the tip of the indicator is rounded, it's best to measure the gouged side of the blade, not the exterior. This is because the rounded tip will conform better to the curve of the gouge, especially in the back of the blade where the curve is greater.

To make the blade as flat as possible without cracking it, you'll need to soak the cane. If you're in a hurry, you can boil it. Flatten the blade out using a heavy object like a paperweight and apply some downward pressure. Even if you get a small crack or two, you can work around this. You could also chop off the tube to eliminate cracking.

Measure the blade at each 1/8" from tip to collar. Measurement must be as accurate as possible so the numbers you get will accurately reflect blade thickness at all points. Mark the spine first by finding the exact midpoint of the width of the tip and the midpoint of the width at the throat. Connect the centers with a line. Do the same for the channels and rails.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Van Hoesen Teaching, Part 3 -- Reading and Listening



David Van Hoesen was interested in the overall education of his students. He encouraged his students to seek out recordings of the best violinists, pianists, singers and orchestras. He believed that a fine bassoonist should also have knowledge of literature and art.

Here is his reading and listening list:


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Van Hoesen Teaching, Part 2, Scales and Arpeggios


Below is David Van Hoesen's Scale and Arpeggio routine. The goal is to become familiar with the different scale patterns and chords in a particular key during a week's worth of practicing (one key per week). All exercises except the Broken Arpeggio are to be done with a metronome for evenness and speed.

Along with perfecting the technique, the focus should be on playing with a beautiful sound, good intonation and a musical sense in all registers.

The Arpeggios in Sequence are taken directly from a violin exercise by Carl Flesch.

A word about the Broken Arpeggio exercise. It is to be done slowly working for a beautiful, smooth connection between notes. Pay attention to embouchure, breath support and smooth, gentle fingers to achieve a smooth, expressive slur for each interval. This is a great exercise for breaking in new reeds as well!

Here is another version of this that may print more clearly. It is also available on my website. Scroll nearly to the bottom to find it.