Playing with Bande Montreal Baroque was an incredible experience for me. My first rehearsal was the pinch I needed to wake me from the dream-like daze I was in. Everyone around me in Susie's living room has been featured on at least one CD in my library - and I don't have a large collection - and were all ready to take on the new Brandenburgs. Although I had some time to look at the music while in Toronto, I was certainly not ready to pick up on the time-bending and extraordinary articulations so commonly found in the music of Susie and Eric, our director for the Brandenburgs. To everyone else these, what seemed to me, outlandish ideas were expected.
I also performed with the BMB in a production of Lully’s Ballet Royale de l’Impatience at A392 with Les Jardins Choréographiques, Montreal's resident baroque dance company. I wasn’t quite as prepared for that as I was hoping – mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t so accustomed to playing on the Bizey bassoon – but it was an excellent performance. I’ve never worked in a professional stage production before and, after this show, I would love to do it again. Noam, our musical director for the Lully, was very good and I enjoyed playing much simpler music. In all of my Brandenburg concerti I sat next to Susie, and the Lully was no exception. Her bowing and articulations were a revelation to me, having only worked and sat next to bassoonists before, and I learned much from the experience.
After playing in this festival I feel as if my playing has somewhat radicalized. That isn’t a bad thing however, as the only thing that I look for – as a listener – is a top-quality performance that has it’s own unique identity. I don’t want to hear 5 different cds of the Mozart concerto all striving for the same tone and even technique. I want to hear Sergio Azzolini play the Vivaldi’s like no one’s ever heard them before, or Les Voix Humaines play Le Phenix…
After the festival finished, we recorded the Brandenburgs for the ATMA label. This was my first ever cd and I learned much about scheduling and how little to take a finished cd as a real musical product. CDs require so many takes – both full and sections – that one 3 minute track could be produced with an hours worth of material. It makes you appreciate more the records of the great performers from the first half of the 20th century when everything had to be done in one go.
Now I’m back in Ottawa and working for the Ottawa Chamber Music Society. There’s one more full week ahead of us before the festival starts, and it’s crunch time. However, there seems to be a lot less to do than this time last year. There are more staff members and everyone is gung-ho for Chamberfest 2011.