My band director referred me to the above recording of Maslanka 4 last week or so. So, I watched it. It’s the Texas All-State Symphonic Band, it has to automatically kick ass. The interpretation wasn’t so great. It was entirely too fast, about four whole minutes faster than any other recording that I can find. The kids however were able to keep up excellently in spite of the conductors outlandish tempo’s. Some of the faster things were a bit messy, but even the pros mess that stuff up a bit. My main problem with the whole thing came at about 24:57. Conductor Gary Green shouts, loud enough to be heard over the massive band playing at a massive fortissimo, “LET’S GO!!!” It literally ruined the entire thing for me. I’m literally disgusted by it. He, IMO, desecrated one of the greatest work written for band in recent memory.
This reminded me of a concert I went to, I think it was last year, of the Shostakovich Symphony 5 played by a community orchestra. It wasn’t spectacular, the playing was a bit messy, and the first and last movements were to fast, a la Bernstein. But the one thing that I remember most was at rehearsal 131, when it goes into D major, and all those repeated A’s start, everything got very disoriented. I was thinking, Oh crap, this is going to suck and end badly. But the conductor gave a simple count off, “1, 2” and all the brass came in together, and it ended all fine and dandy (except it was too fast, but never mind me). That was the first time I had ever heard a conductor speak while the music was going. Now I think his shouting was entirely necessary. Without it, everything would have gone overboard very fast, (did I mention it was too fast? I did) and I actually admire his quick thinking, that gave him the impetus to give the count off. However, I have no forgiveness for the Maslanka conductor. His interpretation was bad, the kids still pulled it off great, but he ruins it in the last seconds by shouting something that he should’ve shouted, judging by his tempo’s (Yes, still too fast), during the opening horn solo.
Moral of the story: Conductors, make sure your band is well prepared enough that you don’t need to resort to drastic during-performances measures, and if everything is going really well, and I mean really well, don’t mess it up for everyone by being a dink and shouting “LET’S GO!!!”, and even if you do, try to look enthused after the cut-off. He literally didn’t even bow, or look like he had just played one of the most powerful works I know of. Noob.