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Pauline Lerner

April 8, 2004 at 6:57 AM

I had a good time at orchestra rehearsal again. I don't like the Ippolitiv-Ivanov any better than I did earlier, but I enjoyed playing the fortissimo parts. I think I was venting my feelings about the piece. We played a short piece which is also Russian and also has some ff passages -- The Russian Sailor's Dance -- but it's so different. It's really fun! Our conductor told us not to make it sound genteel, and that made it even more fun. We spent just a little time on the Mozart, which I love. It is sounding prettier now with the dynamics and coloring coming out.

After rehearsal, I told some of the other string players how I felt about the Siegfried Idyll. It's hard to play and it isn't even pretty, so why work that hard? They all laughed and agreed with me.

This orchestra is a great group of people, but tonight I met the first exception to that rule. My usual standmate wasn't there, and neither was hers, so we sat together. She was really cold. Whenever she had something to say, she turned around and talked to the people in the stand behind us, steadfastly ignoring me. I felt so uncomfortable that, after our break, I didn't even want to sit next to her. Next time, I won't.

Our conductor is really good. He is a good teacher. I feel that I'm learning a lot about how the music works from the inside.

I really enjoy the Mozartian seating arrangement we use for the Mozart, with the first and second violins on opposite sides of the conductor. I hear a much better balance of sounds. I hear the first violins strongly, but they don't swamp out the seconds or anybody else. I can hear a good dialogue between the firsts and seconds.

After the rehearsal, I talked about the music with a friend who is a Russian immigrant. Like many people from abroad, he is more familiar with classical music than most Americans. At first, he did not recognize the name "Caucasian Sketches," but when I said "Ippolitov-Ivanov" in my highly imperfect Russian, he caught on. He started telling me about the Caucasian area of Russia. When I mentioned "The Russian Sailor's Dance," he got really excited. He said that that was a wonderful dance, which he used to do when he was younger. I asked him whether it's the kind of dance that I've seen in which the dancers get into a squatting position and kick their legs out. He said yes, and I remarked that such a dance requires strong knees. I asked him whether it was really a Russian sailors' dance, and he said that it certainly was. It is a dance performed by men dancing without partners, as sailors at sea danced. (The Highland fling, a traditional Scottish dance done by men without partners, also derives from a sailors' dance.) I'd love to see a live performance of a Russian sailors' dance.

I have to wait three more weeks for another orchestra rehearsal. Oh, no! I have a similar long wait for my next yoga class. Oh, no, again! What will I do? Practice both.

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