stravinsky was 'ere

Sure enough, we’re getting a fair amount of Stravinsky this afternoon.

But Jiri Rozen wanted to tie up some loose ends with Scheherazade first – by the looks of it he spent the time after his morning appearance figuring out exactly which passages he felt most uncertain about, or that were the most liable to trip him up later, because he focused specifically on those moments and not simply playing through long stretches of music again.

He used the time on the Stravinsky first movement well too. Whether it was always part of his plan, he didn’t play through the movement first then go back over certain passages but tackled the difficult moments as they came up. As it happens, he did have time in the bank at the end so was able to look at things again. It feels to me like the movement has been prepared as thoroughly as possible, given the time allowed, even if tonight will be the first time the orchestra will get to play it through without stopping.

Elim Chan took a chance by leaving it until the last 20 minutes of her session before looking at the Stravinsky second movement. It is the shortest of the three, mind you, and the least obviously tricky one to conduct (it’s quite slow). Don’t forget that she had been through only one of the two Rimsky-Korsakov movements she has been given, and it was with the slow movement of Scheherazade that she began her rehearsal. It’s the only really romantic bit of slow music on the programme tonight, so it’s perhaps no surprise she wanted to spend a fair amount of her rations on it this afternoon. However, she turned out to have judged things perfectly, and even had time to finesse a couple of corners of the overture.

By the way, I’m sure the learned among you (if you’re still there) will be wondering about the transition from second to third movement in the Stravinsky. There’s a little ‘interlude’ that takes us from one to the other without stopping. But since each has a different conductor, how is the baton going to be passed?

Rather than submit the conductors concerned – Chan and Mihhail Gerts – to a pantomime as one slides in to place as the other slinks off (I’ve seen it done, believe me) they’ve decided simply to cut the interlude bit. As a result It looks like we’ll get to our own interlude that little half a minute earlier.