Page-turning Ravel Gaspard


Sat 25th June 2016 
Received email from friend saying would I page-turn Ravel Gaspard at professional concert next Friday. Said ‘yes’ and asked to page-turn rehearsal. Friend offered to lend me her copy but thought I’d got one somewhere. Heaved piles of music around and sorted through them to find it – knew it was a big pale yellow French edition.

Looked through it briefly to remind myself of it. No repeats, that’s a good start. Terribly complex though. Found recordings of it on YouTube – couldn’t find recording by the pianist I was turning for so listened to Perlemuter, Berezovsky (a whole 5 minutes shorter than Perlemuter), Grosvenor and Michelangeli.
Page-turned my score while listening – very difficult to follow in some places, especially when there are just watery effects (Ondine is a water sprite) and not actual tune. Lots of demisemiquavers played extremely fast, some of it on three staves and frequently changing clefs so I didn’t always hear what I expected, and in seven sharps for a lot ofOndine too. Fortunately, the occasional bars rest, changing rhythms and other landmarks were a great help in making sure where I was. Found I went wrong on the same page-turn more than once so kept listening again until I was more confident. [I wouldn’t normally need to do anything like this much preparation – usually it’s a case of looking through the score, marking in any repeats or turn-backs and turning at the concert butGaspard is one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever turned.]

Sun 26th June 2016 Friend lent me Ivo Pogorelich’s recording of Gaspard which I very much enjoyed. A couple of nasty bits page-turning-wise in Scarbo where it’s difficult to follow it’s so quick, so hope pianist will nod in concert.

Mon 27th June 2016 Pianist has sent the time he’d like me to page-turn his rehearsal, so that’s now in the diary.

Fri 1st July 2016
Sorted out and ironed clothes and fished out shoes (all black and no jewellery so as to be as invisible and unobtrusive as possible).
Went to rehearsal armed with soft pencil and eraser although, as it turned out, didn’t need them.
Looked at pianist’s score of the Ravel. Oh no! – different edition from mine. Ondine and Scarbo page-turns in same places as my copy, Le Gibet starts on opposite page so turns are in different places but it’s very slow so no problem. Does the pianist nod for each turn? No. Will he turn the pages himself between movements? Yes. Rehearsal went very well, through the whole work non-stop and had the pleasure of a private performance. Lovely!
Advantages of sitting by the pianist as opposed to listening to recording – can see pianist’s hands out of corner of eye so can more easily connect score to sound.
Disadvantage – have to sit further away from the score so a bit more difficult to read it.

A couple of small ‘where are we?’ moments in rehearsal, quickly sorted by locating a bar rest, high note, changing long notes etc. Get to the end no problem. “Confident?” the pianist asked me. “Yes”. (Actually I wasn’t quite confident of Scarbo but I was as prepared as I could be and didn’t want the pianist worrying about the page-turner, he had literally thousands of notes to think about.) Also agreed to turn group of Chopin Nocturnes (vastly easier) but had a look at the scores at home between rehearsal and concert anyway.

First half – sat in the audience and listened to and enjoyed Bach and Beethoven, then got rather nervous (but said nothing and hoped it didn’t show) through the interval, hoping I wasn’t going to mess up the Ravel.
Chopin: a couple of passages quicker than expected but no problem.
Ravel: Ondine – fine. Le Gibet – fine. Remembered to keep very well back to keep out of way of pianist’s left hand (there are some sudden very low notes). Scarbo – Went very well except for second to last page when two pages got stuck together – had to very quickly use my right hand as well, to undo them. Just got the page over in time.
Huge relief on my part when I’d successfully turned last page.

Pianist thanked me afterwards and admitted he’d hardly used the score despite having not played it for some time, so I needn’t have worried so much.
Number of audience said “well done!” or “congratulations!” and “I’m glad I don’t do pageturning!”.