Or at least Strauss the cellist-hater.
Holy cow, is Ein Heldenleben hard. I will admit that it's coming along for me personally better than I thought it would when I first read the part, but it's still unbelievably demanding. I mean, what was he thinking having cellists shift all over the nosebleed section to double the firsts in unison??? Intervals that are a small extension for a violin are an 8-inch shift for us, and we have to do it in a nanosecond. Ugh.
My biggest saving grace is that Strauss is still Strauss. Having played Death and Transfiguration both in college and again in BSO a few years ago, a lot of this is a bit easier to figure out. In fact, the main themes from D&T come back at the end of EH - so at least I knew that part!
The biggest challenge is just the shear physical athleticism required to get through it. There are so few breaks in playing, and the playing is so aggressive, that it's exhausting. Especially when I'm still trying to adjust to my growing belly. I actually have a "cello workout schedule" just to prepare for having to play the whole thing front to back.
I really hope my section is preparing that much, too. It was pretty clear in our sectional last week that there's still a long way to go, plus most of them still didn't have the bowings in their parts (ARGH). But I can't make them practice.
With all my griping, though, I must admit it's really fun to play. It's great to be this challenged in a community orchestra. While I think this is a bit too much of a stretch for us, it's certainly better than doing things that we can read cold.
On a funny cello note - I had a dream this week that I was auditioning for the Minnesota Orchestra. That I had forgotten all about the audition and was there and desperately trying to figure out which concerto I had in the best shape for the audition. That wasn't fun - I haven't had a dream like that in a long time. I guess I'm STILL not practicing enough!!!