Daily Archives: March 18, 2009

In Which She Grumbles About Cello

Here’s the thing.

I have lost pretty much any joy in playing and practising, because it’s all about L’Arlesienne and the Hebrides, and I hate them. I am better than I was when we started working on these, yes. But no matter how much I drill them, I’m getting them wrong, and there is no sense of satisfaction or progress. In fact, all there is is frustration. If I can play them at ridiculously slow speeds, that doesn’t help me in top-speed concert situations.

We had a strings-only rehearsal on Saturday, and the Vivaldi was great. The four young soloists are terrific. But then we finished by playing the Hebrides at concert speed, and it’s a train wreck. I suspect that this guest conductor has set us more than we can carry off, which she couldn’t really know when she decided on the programme. And I hate saying that because I don’t like to suggest that a concert is going to be less than good. But when the entire section of celli shakes its head at a piece, and there’s someone saying she’s not going to play in the concert because she doesn’t like how the music is sounding, it’s not an ideal situation. There’s doing my best and being proud of it, and then there’s the sense of hopelessness and resentment. (Mendelssohn, I hope you’re happy, you section-wrecker, you.) And it’s not just our section with the Mendelssohn problem, either.

So every time I sit down to play I want to play anything except Mendelssohn and Bizet, and I know that I need to practise them more than anything else. And I get cranky. I know that I am light-years beyond where I was seven years ago when I played L’Arlesienne the first time. It doesn’t make a difference. What does make a difference is that fact that I’ve improved in general, so now the bits I get wrong sound really awful instead of blending into the general not-very-goodness of my playing.

This 7/8 sounds slightly choked in fourth position and above. I suspect it has something to do with me getting used to the touch up there and figuring out the proper angle of string-stopping. Still, I find myself thinking of how clearly my 4/4 sang in fourth and up. I plan to take the 4/4 out of its case next week and try to play all this stuff I’ve been working on on it, just to see if the 7/8 is making a difference. My first two months of rental are up at the beginning of April. I do like the sound of the 7/8, and it handles nicely in respect to size and proportion. I just have no clue if it’s made a positive difference or not.

So yeah. I’m kind of looking forward to the post-concert break, and to different music.