It was the last rehearsal for Mahler I this morning and once again I was paid to sit back and listen as great music was performed around me. I almost feel guilty about it, but it's not my fault the maestro decided he didn't need to rehearse the final moments of the symphony.
Actually, my part in this evening's show might be a tiny bit nerve inducing because it was decided in rehearsal yesterday that I would stand up with the horn section and one trombonist right before we come in for the grand finale. I noticed later that this action is even indicated in my music (I suppose it would have been responsible of me to have looked up the word "aufstehen" before the first rehearsal!). By itself this performance detail is not major, but I've never been able to rehearse it. I'm hoping that when the moment comes, I'll stand in unison with the horns and somehow avoid tripping over my wretched high heels.
Except for the fact I didn't get to play much (I actually was able to play about 15 notes in the 4th trumpet part to assist Ed Gornik on some fast mute changes), sitting in for rehearsal today was quite enjoyable for me. I admire so many of the USO players both musically and personally, and to be in the section as they rehearse and perform is like a paid lesson.
Mahler I is an evocative work. The first movement opens with a sustained pianissimo drone in the strings and later the high woodwinds: most strikingly the solo piccolo which is subtily and precariously perched atop a mass of breathy strings like a razor-thin crest of snow peaking over the ridge line of a mountain summit. When it's in tune, it is positively goosebump inducing.
The drone evolves into a mysterious chant-like motif of falling 4ths punctuated here and there with "cuckoo" calls and the distant heralds of off-stage trumpets . The mood as the piece begins reminds me of the the curious magic that unfolds right before sunrise--turning even the most banal setting into one of potential fantasy.
Ok Rob, I'll quit with the cheesy and overdone descriptions...for now anyway:) After our performances I may not be able to further resist waxing poetic about how I experience this great music.