By David Itkin
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Extra info for Conducting Concerti: A Technical and Interpretive Guide
In that version, the composer plays the first two bars of the Andantino a bit faster, so that no doubling of the tempo afterward feels necessary and the gentle push and pull of poco rubato is again present. Regardless of both what is above and the ubiquitous “tradition,” I still prefer these passages to be played as he wrote them, poco rubato, with a gentle pushing forward of the tempo (beginning at Andantino) followed by a logical pulling back. For practical balance with the piano, the dynamics beginning in the third bar after 30 usually need to be altered somewhat.
This is one of those moments when the orchestra depends totally on the knowledge, skill, and leadership of the conductor, and abdicating responsibility here is not an option. Finally, the woodwind entrances eleven and thirteen bars before G and the horns’ entrance four bars before G must be clearly cued. This must be done not with just a motion of the baton in the appropriate direction, but also with a clear look in the eye beginning at least a couple of beats in advance. These musicians have not played in some time, and the nature of the preceding passage can create considerable insecurity for them that must be overcome by the conductor’s calm and clarity.
The fact that the melody contains both eighth notes and the dotted-eighth/sixteenth combination as integral components makes me believe that this should be played straight. Otherwise, how would eighth notes and sixteenth notes be differentiated from one another, since usually, in swing style, those rhythms are executed identically? However, a 2009 performance in Las Vegas that I conducted with the outstanding young pianist Joel Fan caused me to re-think this question, or at least to be open to more than one possibility.
Conducting Concerti: A Technical and Interpretive Guide by David Itkin