It was evening now; the atmosphere had changed, as blue jeans and boots gave way to black velvet and heels. The theme of the concert was Just Desserts, a fundraiser for the arts, and the assortment of sweets on the table in the back was beckoning me to skip the work and get down to the important stuff. Alas, they had a guard on duty! Tammy performed first on the clarinet, the Weber concerto. As I sat in the lobby waiting, I got a chance to truly admire the beautiful Music they were creating. I was next, with two short pieces, easy and bare. Would I make it?
Surprisingly, my nerves stayed mostly steady. It was a performance–not perfect, but pretty solid. Then came Maria’s Chopin Ballade in G minor. I’ve worked on this piece myself, so I have a pretty good idea of what it requires of the pianist. It takes a lot to get your fingers completely around it, since it’s basically an ocean of notes at times. But Maria, she sailed! This piece always puts a sick knot of emotion in my gut when I hear it or play it; it’s so tragic.
The Milhaud clarinet-violin-piano trio followed a brief intermission. I’m very satisfied with how this piece has evolved, and it has become a favorite of mine, simply because it’s one of the first ensembles that I’ve connected completely, musically, with the others. Tammy and I basically held a conversation with Maria on the stage--that’s what it felt like. I crave more opportunities like this one.
Now for the Danse Macabre. As I began the chiming of the bell, something in my head spoke up: you don’t even have a clue what comes next, do you? What are you going to do when you get done with this phrase? You are going to blank out completely, aren’t you!
No! Must fight back! I had to mentally flip thorough my index and refer to measure 42 to subdue my welling panic. It pays to write out your solo from memory. Once that was out of the way, the performance began to flow like it should. Solid, not as good as the high school rendition, but I do recall that I fixed a couple of flaws this time around. Oh, but here come the arpeggios, the dreaded arpeggios at the end. Would I make it?
It unwound in slow motion, like a fumbled pass in a football game, or a stumbling ice skater at the Olympics. We’ve got a horse down in the home stretch! Where did all the notes go? How do I hop back into the middle of those flying string crossings and get a grip on my flailing fingers? I scuffed around the best I could for a few measures and scrambled for the high note at the end. I was back! The relief that came from my recovery soared me through the finish line.
Not perfect, but I can say I was proud of it. Mostly, I was thankful that I was able to recover, and I didn’t run out of the auditorium and half a mile down the street like that One Time.
Finally, the Brahms horn trio. We played only the scherzo, and if you’ve heard it, it sounds exactly like a fox hunt in a Jane Austin novel. At least, that’s what I envision. This evening’s performance bolted and took off like a runaway horse, much to my surprise. With no reins to check the speed, I settled in for an adventure. I don’t think I’ve ever cleared arpeggios of that height at such velocity! Thank God for adrenaline! No one was killed, so there’s the happy ending for you--a bright, forte, E-flat tonic chord in unison, and then the book slapped shut. The End.
The Kenai Trio (A much hated title that will soon be changed)
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