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<<  -- 3 --  Jennifer Paull    REMINISCENT RETROSPECTIVES


Could things get any worse? Of course they could! My worst nightmares will forever remain two Promenade concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The phone rang and the BBC Symphony Orchestra's office told me to get to the RAH prontissimo. The dress rehearsal was in progress and oboe number two had been taken ill, suddenly. 'What is the programme?' I inquired. 'Till Eulenspiegel, Richard Strauss'. Gulp; somehow I had never played this symphonic poem, although the rest of the programme was familiar. 'Never mind', I assured myself, 'if I grab a cab I'll be there in time for the run through scheduled for the second half of the rehearsal'. I'd have the afternoon to look it over again before the live broadcast that evening. Of course, it was pouring with rain; there was not a cab in sight!

I dashed onto the stage, rain-soaked, reed in mouth to save time warming up, just as Norman del Mar walked onto the rostrum after the break. 'I don't feel like doing this. We all know the piece! See you tonight, everybody!' Thunderous applause from all sides, or was that sound my knees knocking? Of course I played it through at home, but performing it for the first time with the BBC Symphony Orchestra during a live broadcast was another one of those tattoos one can never erase. Remaining visibly unruffled and thereby keeping up the pretences that this was something in, as opposed to out of the ordinary, was another.

The second nightmare was The Rite of Spring under Pierre Boulez, again with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, broadcast live from the Proms in the same setting.

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Copyright © 18 January 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland






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