The purpose of the Loboe Project is primarily to serve as a forum for topics relating to the unique instrument. For the first time, I must share a slight drawback that I have discovered about this otherwise exceptional instrument; it’s really difficult to do “bells up” in Mahler 5.
While it is not impossible with the Loboe, and goodness knows it is not a natural position for any oboist, I think I had far more difficulty than the rest of my section when the instructions read “schallbecher auf” simply due to the slight increase in length and weight (which otherwise are never a problem during performances). On the plus side, knowing that there is an additional note on the instrument increases one’s confidence of very delicate entrances in the lowest register, which Mahler 5 is also full of, and thus my overall opinion is that the benefits outweigh the one small drawback.
It seems every wind player can put their two cents in about the purpose and practicality of this motion. Having performed Mahler 5 last week, the perception I am left with is that there is an impact both audibly and visually. One audience member made the comment that the “bells up” sections instantly gave the winds a “band” quality to the sound in addition to just increased dynamics; an overall positive effect.
Personally, I am all for doing these sections even if the instrument is a little heavier (this technique is called for multiple times in every movement that the winds play in). It is also refreshing to know that wind sections everywhere just go with these directions; if Mahler were a contemporary composer today asking for this, one would wager that there would be major backlash from players for the exact same request...thank goodness Mahler has proven himself beyond a shadow of a doubt the he knows what he is asking for in his music.