From the Orchestra Library

Standard Repertoire is Not Always Peril-Free

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on July 6, 2009

So, we’ve been up in Vail since Tuesday afternoon last week, and have a run of 4 programs here in the middle of the residency.  Its a bit of a whirlwind after all the prep leading up to it.  I haven’t had a chance to write much about the actual music because of all the logistical aspects, but since the hardest part of that is over for the library I can enlighten (or, hopefully, at least slightly entertain) you with the what is happening artistically and our part in making the music.

Our first concert with Music Director Jaap van Zweden was Tchaikovsky Capriccio Italien, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27, and Brahms Symphony No. 4. Perhaps this seems on first reading like a program that would have very few library issues — it’s all pretty standard repertoire, right?

Not so fast.  Standard repertoire, yes, but some definite challenges that might come as a surprise to conductors and even librarians.  Take the Capriccio Italien, for example.  The work is well-known and often-played.  But it’s one of the pieces in the repertoire that has lots of errors in the parts.  There’s a MOLA errata list of some 18 pages, each with about 25 separate items to be checked and fixed prior to rehearsal and performance just for starters.  In our case, we were the beneficiaries a while back of corrections done by our colleague in the Fort Worth Symphony, Doug Adams (not to be confused with the President and CEO of the Dallas Symphony, also Doug Adams!).  Doug, the former, is a fine librarian and prepares beautiful parts – and generously shares his work fixing errata with other librarians.  Since this project was done a few years ago on our main set of parts, other than having the principal strings check their bowings and the library matching everything up, we didn’t have to do much for that piece, plus we already played it at the end of the classical season.  A major time savings for which we were very grateful.  But conductors and librarians take note:  this particular correction job takes a lot of time, so plan accordingly if you are getting a new set of parts and scores.

The Brahms Symphony was another set also previously marked of course, so we checked through the bowings and were able to move through that one pretty quickly as well.  With the major works, changing to a new music director entails a thorough assessment of which sets of parts will have to be replaced or if they can still be used going forward as the MD’s set.  This set had not been used very often, was not heavily marked with conductor specifics from the previous music director, so we felt comfortable making the transition with the same parts.

That leaves the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27.  Shouldn’t be a problem, one would think.  But with the Bärenreiter edition comes a new wrinkle to beware of – and one that can cause a big problem in rehearsals if not addressed in advance.  At about bar 46 in the first movement there are 7 additional bars not in the earlier traditional editions.  What does this mean in reality?  Well, if the orchestra is using the newer edition, and the soloist or conductor is working from the earlier edition (or vice versa), things are going to come apart.  There will be confusion, and getting everyone back on track will be difficult because measure numbers will be different.  Not good.  You don’t want to be the librarian at that moment – you’d really rather be a worm under a rock someplace.

So the librarian has to know about this issue, and address it with both the conductor and soloist before the rehearsal.  If they are using a different edition than the orchestra’s parts, the bars have to be either put in or taken out.  We have the Bärenreiter set, and the soloist used that as well.  Mr. van Zweden, was prepared either way – his older score has a notation about the 7 “missing” bars, and, since he knows the piece so well, he just conducts through them and then returns to his score afterwards (he also has the Bärenreiter measure numbers so is prepared for every contingency).  When offered, he politely declined to have the bars added to his score – he was fine without them (music to a librarian’s ears!).

It’s not always that easy.  And how is one supposed to know about these differences between editions so as to avoid rehearsal meltdowns?  How can a librarian possibly keep up with so many repertoire anomalies throughout their career?  Like the measures added back into the newer engraved Bernstein’s Dances from West Side Story (and the old score won’t work with the newer one from that point unless it’s altered), or the added movement at the end of the new Kalmus edition of the Suite from Swan Lake, to name just two examples. We all know that some Mahler and Bruckner symphonies or the suites from Stavinsky ballets, for example, have published versions that are quite different from each other, so it is a matter of getting the one the conductor wants to use.  But it’s these smaller, less obvious differences between editions or publications that can create pesky and unwelcome surprises if one is not aware of them.

This is the kind of knowledge one accumulates from experience, or maybe from a conversation with another librarian, or a MOLA conference session that might touch on such things.   David Daniels, the author of “Orchestral Music,” has tried to identify such details in his book to help librarians and others be prepared.  He was the first to produce a comprehensive resource on orchestral music, complete with instrumentation, duration, movements, composition dates, and other pertinent data.  Unfortunately, as with all published material, there is even errata in his book, and he is diligent about providing a list of things to be corrected, as well as good-naturedly receiving corrections from us librarians.

Once such error affects the entry about Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27.  The 4th edition of his book identifies the problem with the additional 7 bars as occurring in Concerto No. 9.  But it should be noted instead for Concerto No. 27.  Librarians, artistic administrators, and conductors (if you have this resource) – annotate your volume with the correction, make a note in your repertoire database, or mark it in your full score(s) so you are ready for it next time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: