Sunday, June 26, 2011

Live Recordings of Musica Franca playing Rameau

I have recordings of my performances that date back to the very beginning of my career, reel-to-reel recordings of my first Mozart concerto etc etc, but don't worry, I won't make you listen to all of them!  Sometimes, though, I find in my files a live recording of music that is very nice and that never went to commercial disc.  I found one of these tonight...

Musica Franca was the early music branch of the Caliban Quartet and we released recordings of the complete works of Michel Corrette plus a collection of Joseph Bodin de Boismortier using bassoon quartet plus other fabulous continuo instruments including lute, organ & harpsichord.

Anyway, at my coaxing, Fraser Jackson produced a beautiful arrangement of a suite from Rameau's exquisitely campy and politically incorrect opera, Les Indes Galantes.  We only had two performances of this work and one of those was outside in a garden beside a highway, so I love hearing this slightly rough concert recording again.

Les Indes Galantes Suite played by Musica Franca live in concert Montreal (2006)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The steps towards the recording - managing the process

As I crash through my days, I sometimes remember that I have committed myself to writing about my recording projects in a public way, aiming to share information that might be useful to other performers.

Often, I wish I could read about the efforts of other players and beyond that, I wonder if this information is useful to anyone??  And despite the lurking wish to concentrate solely on my art, it is not possible.   Like other musicians, my projects are developed in addition to paying other bills, looking after family, creating programmes for future concerts, playing other concerts, teaching valued students, renovating the house and tending to two cats (how on earth did I, a dog person, end up with two ornery cats!?).

Doubt notwithstanding, I continue....

With each recording project, there are concrete steps that need to be taken to build the path to a successful recording.

Once the players are booked, times found that work for everybody, rough schedules created, venue booked, engineer in place, equipment rented, travel plans finalized, hotels booked for the musicians, contracts and visas, then the music must be prepared.   Actually, it all happens in simultaneous layers, along with practising the music and finding the money to make it all happen.

In the case of the Vivaldi Concerti, I ordered the facsimile prints from the National Library in Turin, which takes some time since one first must request the music, then fill out a form, then contact the photographers who produce the DVD with the images of each score page (for my project, 111 pages in total, once the missing pages were discovered and reshot!).

Once we had the facsimiles, we could create the computer scores and now we must edit, correct and mark with my ever-changing ideas before sending to the performers.  One of my students is helping me with the copying, saving me countless hours of valuable time.

It is a pyramid of activities, and if built correctly, the elements will come together on the two days of recording to produce a vivid performance that in turn signal the beginning of many other performances.

The fun part is the music...  I am rehearsing regularly with some really enthusiastic pianists to try out both my ideas and my ability to communicate them quickly... Vivaldi is a true shape-shifter and many many orchestrations of ideas work for his bassoon concerti.  My goal is to grasp this opportunity and make an interpretation that reflects the extreme vivacity of this spectacular composer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

8 Vivaldi Concerti

Getting ready to record eight Vivaldi Concerti in August.  I have received the facsimiles from the National Library of Turin and now have my own very plain edition for the recordings.

As always with our recording projects, rehearsal time is short, so there are decisions to make about tailoring the parts for quick understanding --- do cues make it easier by showing the confusing bits, or do they just get in the way since excellent players catch on very quickly?  These are just some of the housekeeping details that I ponder in the course of preparations.

I love Vivaldi's music because of it's extreme vitality and humanity... there is so much room for imagination and he must have been exasperatingly insightful about instruments other than his own in order have written these pieces for bassoon.

I have chosen 8 concerti to record and categorize them roughly as "happy" and "sad", with further characterizations that can be loosely described as the Hoedown Concerti and the Faintly Sinister Masked Ball Concerti (there are easily two in each of these categories) or the Pirate Concerti (also identified as the Jack Sparrow meets Midsummer's Night Dream Concerti) and the Turkish Caravan Concerto.  I have many other adjectival responses to the concerti yet I have probably already said too much...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

AFTER HOURS - Release date June 1, 2011

Our newest CD is released today and I have a working PayPay link for the first time in my career!
Slowly but surely, I am getting this show on the road!

We had a lot of fun yesterday in a couple of pre-release concerts.  We were the featured artists at the season launch event for the River Run Centre in Guelph, Ontario and made the front page of the local newspaper.

Then we went back to Toronto to play in a fantastic event to benefit Across Oceans.  We were joined in our sets by the great lutenist, Lucas Harris, who opted to play electric guitar in the dinner club venue!
Altogether, it was a great day where we got to meet festival directors, audience members, film directors, dancers, and incredible fellow musicians including the spectacular Lemon Bucket Orchestra.

I tell you, the act of recording leads me in so many unexpected and exquisite directions... I am addicted!

Anyway, I have resolved to finally memorize all of my music once and for all --- the music stand gets in the way of tv cameras and our audiences and we really don't need it when playing in a dark club.  I am going to encourage all of my students to memorize and practise from memory... it really is a liberation.