Monday, May 9, 2011

Recital post-mortem #1

My recital at St. Paul's is over! 
Time to attend to the care and feeding of this blog! Naturally, I've had to devote much of my time to last-minute recital preparation.

Thanks to those of you who attended. It was a successful event in many ways. I was able to present all four compositions just as I will next month in Arizona -- without break. No time for fussing or tweaking anything. Just shooting from the hip!

I'll listen to the recording I made sometime soon, but here are my first post-mortem thoughts:


In the recital, I used 3 different reeds and two different bocals.
  • Debussy reed had a pure, even tone in the high register with easy response. Not good in low register, so not appropriate for any of the other pieces on the program.
  • Reed for the Sciortino struck a good balance between ease with high e's and f's and decent low note response. All four high f's came out in performance!
  • Bocal for Sciortino (Heckel pre-war#2 - no letter designation) was new for me. It has greater ease with extreme high range than my all-purpose pre-war #2cc, but also has a great sound throughout the range. The dodgy open F keeps this from being my regular choice, but using the low E key keeps the F stable.
  • Reed for Bernaud and Griebling-Haigh worked well. My best sound with this reed.

Last month, I had a balance hanger and a baffle installed on the boot joint. The balance hanger worked well, taking much of the weight off my left hand when playing standing up. The baffle also worked well, keeping clothing away from the keywork. It will need some more tweaking, though, for optimal positioning.

More on this -- including photos --  in my next blog. 


I was generally pleased with how I handled my nerves and happy with my concentration in general during the recital. I noticed some shaking and a little nervousness during the Debussy. This is pretty normal for me. In the first piece of an audition or recital, it always takes me a few minutes to get settled.

I felt much more calm and engaged for the rest of the program. I love the music I chose and was excited to present it to the audience. My calmness was a direct result of all the preparation I've done. I started working on this program in November, so I've really logged the hours needed to build consistency and confidence and it showed in the performance, I think.

My concentration was generally good, especially during the Sciortino, which has always plagued me. I felt it lag somewhat during the devilishly difficult last page of the Bernaud, though.  I'll have to nail that down better next time.

It also helped to have Randy Fusco on stage with me. We've played together for many years, so he always makes me feel more comfortable with his presence!


Here is a list of some things I did during the last week before the recital:

  • Logistics -- dress rehearsal, checked lighting in the church, electrical outlets for recording, green room, program printing
  • Maintenance practicing -- slow practice of any technical passages that needed cleaning up.
  • Reed choices and finishing -- I leave this to the last couple of days before an event like this. The weather and your practicing can impact what you'll end up using, so it's not helpful to select anything until just beforehand.  Therefore, you need to have lots of reeds to choose from, just in case. I did some finishing scrapes on the reeds I used for the recital two days before the program and put them away until that evening.
  • Mental practice -- I did lots of mental practice of the repertoire without the bassoon. Your brain doesn't know the difference!
  • Rest - tried to get enough sleep before the program.
  • Distraction - some distraction is good in the days leading up to the program. I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art the day before and spent a few hours looking around.
  • Work on something new. I tend to get musical "tunnel vision" just before a big event. It's good to loosen up by starting on something new. I began learning the Berg Violin Concerto for this week's concerts.
More recital thought later. . .

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