Valerie Kinslow, head of voice at McGill and a longtime collaborator, sent me a note a couple of weeks ago, telling me that Dale Bartlett was in palliative Care at Jewish General, I immediately called him at the hospital.
I told him that “we have a rehearsal at 7:30 PM that evening”.
He responded immediately, asking “what is on the program?” It could have been an actual call , as it had been made many times during a long and happy collaboration of many many concerts of solo and chamber music in Montreal, over a quick quarter of a century.
I was first introduced to Dale Bartlett “Le Paris”restaurant on Saint Catherine, where I was having lunch with Kit Kinneard, a producer for the CBC. It was a quick introduction and he seemed quiet and almost diffident., a smoker who deeply enjoyed his habit, which in the end at the Jewish, took this fine musician and dear person from us.
Did we actually play a hundred concerts of solo and chamber music together? I think so, perhaps more than 100. We played for Arts National, “Concert Intime”, Concordia University, and McGill, and for the Concert Series in Brome, for Constance Pathy, for dozens of CBC Remote Concerts for Francis Wainwright, another CBC Producer, and for Pierre Rainville in Studio 12 at the CBC.
Dale was the most consistent accompanist anyone could ever wish for, always prepared , always totally accurate, and a convivial and intelligent accompanist and collaborator, and a very funny guy when the mood took him.
When we played and recorded the 3 Sonatas for Clarinet, by Max Reger, he called them the “Ronald Reagen” Sonatas. While he did not drive an automobile, he was never ever late for a rehearsal or a performance. He smoked after.
We played an entire Recital at Carnegie Recital Hall in NYC on March 6 one year. That was my parents anniversary. They were living in Miami at the time, and naturally, they didn’t attend.
Instead, we all drove to New York i my diesel Station wagon, Linda, and my four children, Noah, Abram, and the twins, Nathan and Joe. I think it was the windiest weekend in history, snowy, blowy and , well, actually funny because we played “Hink Pink” on the way. The funniest retort came from Joey, now the Pastor at Evangel Church, the Pentacostal Center of the universe. His Hink pink was “Star Trick”, “hooker in space”.
We all stayed at the musicians hotel near Times Square, the name of which eludes me, but they had special musicians rates and it was a clean and easily locatable hotel near Times Square.
Let’s see, Abram worked the tickets at the door, and Nathan recorded the concert, Joey and Noah gave out programs, and we had a reviewer from The Times, Bernard Holland, who wrote a short equivocal piece in the Times, writing that I “Seemed very happy” , blew a couple of clams in the Bernstein Sonata, and played one of the Regers, a new Sonata by the (late) John Bavicchi, who was part of “Les Six”, which com[prised the entire audience. There would have been eight, but, since there was no Brahms on the program they deigned to attend. John made a party for us at The Intercontinetal Hotel, where he and Bevvy were staying.
We drove back to Montreal in the most miserable wintery , snowy weekend of the year. We had to search for a station which offered Diesel fuel, and it seemed like every other car on the road was in a ditch.
Nathans recording came out very well. Carnegie would have done it, but the fee was exhorbitant , as inflated as the audience was meager.
Dale Bartlett? He was only terriffic, tasteful and totally accurate, as only he could be and was , always. He smoked, after.
Dale, I love you, man, wherever you are.