Funny story. The third movement of the Bach Concerto for Oboe and Violin is four pages long, but in my part there is a lovely 3 bar rest at the page turn so it is never a problem for me. The unfortunate violinist, though, plays throughout the entire movement and can’t easily get the page over, so there’s always a little issue there. Some players just rip the page over while playing – somehow – or have someone else turn for them, but most work out some sort of photocopy arrangement, which still requires two stands, or one expanded stand, or at least a perfectly situated part. AND that third movement comes almost immediately after the second, so everything really has to be in place well in advance.
I performed the Double Concerto a number of years ago, with an orchestra that I will not name here. The violin soloist was VERY anxious about this page situation, and the performance in general. She spent quite a bit of time pre-concert setting up her stand, JUST SO, and making sure that it was angled exactly as she wanted, and that the third movement was all spread out so as to be readable. There may have been stand lights involved as well – she really wanted to make sure that every note on all four pages was clear. Perhaps I didn’t mention that the part is also significantly difficult.
Finally the concert started, and she and I came on from backstage. We bowed to the audience, smiled at each other, and raised our instruments. We cued. Did I mention that we were performing without a conductor? Well, the orchestra and I swept away into the first movement, and the poor violin soloist bounced straight into the THIRD! She hadn’t turned her pages back to the beginning before the concert started!
What was I to do? Should we start again? We had no conductor and we had never rehearsed the possibility that we might need to STOP playing in the concert. I didn’t know if I could cut the group off and have them all notice in time to be suave. I kept going. Meanwhile, my colleague recognized her mistake instantly, and flipped back one page, two, three, four pages to the beginning of the book,and was able to join in before the end of the first tutti. Before her first solo passage, in other words. We carried on, and cruised successfully through the rest of the piece.
At the end we took our bows. We smiled. We retreated backstage. And I apologized profusely. “Friend, I’m so sorry- I didn’t know what to do or how to stop – I’m so glad you got back in but we should have done it over…”
And she said, smiling, “Oh, it’s really OK – it’s a good thing the piece begins Tutti. I don’t even think anyone noticed!”
I love that. I don’t know if her statement was founded more in optimism or delusion, but it’s something I always keep in mind when I make mistakes in performance. Probably some people didn’t notice, and at least I started on the right page!
That’s not going to happen this week. Maybe something else, but certainly not that. I’ll be performing the Bach Double Concerto (and two other gorgeous Cantatas) with violinist EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and the Peoria Bach Festival this Friday night. It will be a beautiful concert. You should come.