Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ups & Downs

Chris Bertram ponders the possibility that the UK has only one hammer suitable for the Mahler Sixth. It's not well-known, but the music world does depend upon having a number of "specialty" instruments stashed here and about for hire. This is particularly true for the percussion section, but oboes d'amore and bassett horns are also typical rental items. Some houses take pride in stocking some specialities, for example the cimbasso, the contrabass valve trombone necessary for much of Verdi. I once figured out that with a used car-sized investment, I could probably make a nice return in the celesta rental business, with regular income guaranteed by Nutcracker season, and a handful of Bartok & Weill performances. (Is there, by the way, any instrument that is as much fun to play as the celesta (I once did a run of Threepenny Operas doubling celesta & harmonium, my last gig in a tux, but one I'd cheerfully repeat, whatever the dress)?)

There's some talk going about worsts these days, whether worst (p)residents or worst(-written) reviews (start here). I'd like to add the review which most effectively convinced me that the performance in question was, indeed, a worst-of-its-kind. It was not a concert review, but a course review of a course taught by a professor who happened to be a music professor. The effective line in the review went: "(this course) compared unfavorably to having battery acid poured on your genitalia."

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Playing celesta for Bartok & Weill sounds like a totally enviable experience which I hope you are asked to cheerfully repeat.

I use the phrase, cribbed from the wonderful "My Beautiful Launderette" movie, "I'd rather drink my own urine..." rather than having to experience something personally unpleasant. But "battery acid poured on your genitalia" is indeed a powerful contender, and in context thoroughly convincing.