Today I got to go to the TSO's Open Rehearsal of Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. The TSO was conducted by Stéphane Denève.
We got headsets to listen to Gary Kulesha's commentary about the rehearsal.
The first thing I noticed was that the orchestra was a bit different from normal. The bases were on 'stage right' instead of on the other side. They played Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. It sounded beautiful from the very first time they played it through. The condutor focussed on the small details of the piece. He talked about dynamics and even things like the speed of the plucking of the harp and the length of a grace note.
The second piece they worked on was my favourite of the whole rehearsal. It was Francis Poulenc's Concerto in D Minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra. It was the first time I've ever seen two 9-foot grand pianos on the stage at Roy Thomson Hall at the same time! The players face each other when they are playing but they are pretty far away from each other.
The conductor walked out into the middle of the hall to listen to the orchestra playing. He wanted to hear how the audience heard the music. I really liked that he did that because it shows me how much he cares about the music.
It's because of this piece that I managed to convince my Mom to take me to the performance itself. I want to hear how it will sound. The two piano soloists, Frank Braley and Eric Le Sage are amazing!
The final piece that they rehearsed was Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14.
Did you know that Berlioz was a guitarist? He had Chopin help him with the piano bits of the music.
They had lots of timpani set up and they had 4 timpanists playing at one point.
It was really nice hearing them play the different movements. Once again they only had to work on the fine details.
One of the players in the orchestra has blue hair. I wonder if she does anything to tone it down when they are performing. Do they have a dress code that they have to stick to? It would be cool if she can keep her hair colour the way she wants.