Moussorgsky “Bald Mtn” solo

For our Columbus Symphony Halloween Pops concert tomorrow night (Saturday Oct 31 in Veterans Memorial Hall, Columbus Oh), we're playing one piece which has become a standard for Halloween Pops: Mousorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. After all, it features a witch's dance, more like a rave party, through the night on a scary "bald" mountain top!

But near the end, you hear a church bell ring, and there's a beautiful coda of peaceful music as day approaches.

It is near the end of this that a lonely but sweet clarinet solo appears, followed by a little more optimistic flute solo in the same vein.


It's a tricky little solo. To capture the sweet sadness it depicts, the slur up to the high e must be effortless. I also try to diminuendo the e, as if it just floats away, before continuing with the next part of the phrase. The triplets must also float lightly before the high e, and must not bog down in "subdivision" style playing.

I crescendo in the 5th and 6th bars toward the 2nd beat of the 6th bar, where the repeated c triplets should diminuendo, almost as if giving up, tired, before resolving to the b. It's a very intimate solo, and cannot be played too extrovertedly.

The program sounds like it will be fun and entertaining, with some gorgeous Broadway songs from Phantom of the Opera and others, sung by Lisa Vroman and Doug LaBrecque between a few orchestral numbers. It's not a typical "scary" Halloween concert, but that's a refreshing change.

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