I need to stop apologizing for late posts…. it’s been a weird 6 months for me, emotionally and spiritually. But let me get to the subject at hand: Tchaik 4.
Back in January and February earlier this year, Orchestra Toronto worked on Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony. It was my first time performing it. It was the ‘biggest’ piece of the performance season for me. But, for a change vs. previous years, I had very little prep to do for it. Why? Because it was a piece for various auditions.
Back when I auditioned for the GGS in Toronto, I prep’d it as an option but ultimately didn’t use it. I also prep’d it for the Montreal Symphony audition last year, but as you know, didn’t go. So I was already well-prepared for it when it came time to rehearsing it with Orchestra Toronto. We also had a brass sectional for it with trombonist Rupert Price (Windsor Symphony). Finally, I had a lesson on it with Mark Tetreault (Toronto Symphony). This was my first time meeting Mark in person. What a fantastic guy! He was really encouraging and said some really nice things about my playing. He gave me some great pointers about the bits I needed help on. Darn it! I wish I had taken notes right afterwards … like maybe blogging about it. oy! But I do remember playing too loudly. I like to look at it as trying too hard. Still I *KNOW* I play a lot louder when I get with the trombone. Alex, on bass, produces a lot of source. Seriously a lot.
Specifically though, I do remember working on this section with Mark:
I was heavily emphasizing the dotted 8th note – i.e. the syncopation. Mark suggested letting the dotted 8th be the ‘rebound’ (my word) off the emphasis of the note before it – i.e. the on-beat. This instant led me to not trying as hard (also with his suggestion) and the lick practically played itself. He also suggested playing the dotted 8th’s shorter and let them ring on their own. Again, less work, but also more time to breath. What difference all that made! There was also this lick:
… and this one …
Both presented similar challenges for me – the leap to a high Db (on my C tuba). I was naturally emphasizing the upper note, which put a lot of pressure on its accuracy, which I was worried about. Mark suggested the opposite – emphasize the lower note. The tessitura of the upper Db will make it shine on its own. This improved the phrasing, but he also suggested practicing with a slur from the F to the Db. I threw that into the category of “practice the long stuff short and the short stuff long”. It really does work. Such simple things made my part much easier to play. Thank you Mark!
Come concert day, I was really relaxed. I think we played it really well. I was super happy with my own performance. All that preparation over a few years made it cinch to play.
Next season: Tchaik 5! 😀