Last night I had the pleasure to play for the first time in 18 years with the Symphony Orchestra of the Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, one of the best orchestras in the world – their chief conductor is Mariss Jansons. I played the Brahms Double (again) with Lisa Batiashvili who played as always absolutely beautiful; a challenge to be on stage with her because she has such musical charisma that it is very easy to be blown away, while in that piece the cello needs to lay a good base, otherwise something is missing. Did it work? People said we had a very natural balance, sounding like one instrument (hopefully like hers, not like my fat monster), but I know quite well that if it wasn’t like that, people would not tell me anyway, so I never know, always guessing.In the afternoon before the performance I told my son that I was going to play one of the for me most important concerts of the season, just because of the quality of orchestra, city and hall, live radio etc. – he asked me if I was especially nervous, and I realized that I wasn’t at all afraid, just looking forward to be playing in that hall, the “Gasteig” (which I like very much, even though it is very fashionable not to like it since Leonard Bernstein recommended to burn it down right after it was opened) with little round Lisa (eight-months pregnant – no idea how she managed to stand there for almost 40 minutes without holding her belly :)) enjoying myself playing one of the most beautiful pieces written for cello.
I think I also held my nerves “in check” by remembering the important game of the night, Germany vs. Portugal in the Quarter Finals of the European Championship – this is real pressure, I was even nervous just watching the second half on TV in a restaurant. The players really have something to loose; a couple of hundred million people are watching these games, criticizing and scrutinizing every single move. They are playing for tons of money, and if they loose, they are really considered loosers, while we musicians can only play well or less well, but we can’t loose, since we are not playing against anybody.
Yes, we (and especially me) can make mistakes, and I certainly had my share (screwed up with first arpeggio in a-minor, merde, it worked sooo well in rehearsal), but it doesn’t matter at all – the over-all performance is what counts, and I know by now (after doing this since 19 years) that these tiny little accidents are of no importance whatsoever – well, in soccer they might lead to a goal against you and you are the idiot, in music you can make up for it musically, or it might even add to the excitement of the performance, just by not being too perfect 🙂 (dream on, Alban!)
Two years ago I played a recital while Germany was playing Argentina in the quaterfinals of the World Cup, and like yesterday they won. Maybe I should always schedule concerts for these important soccer games. For the Semis I am free, so probably they’ll loose. Yes, sorry, I am a sports fan, what can I do, find it highly entertaining and as you can tell, it helps me to deal better with my little stress-factors by realizing that it is not really stress but pure joy. There was some excitement around our performance last night though, because we had to cancel the dress rehearsal; Lisa had spent a difficult night in her condition, so she decided to play it safe and stay home – we played the concert on one rehearsal, but with an orchestra and a conductor like yesterday (Hans Graf conducted a great Brahms) this is no problem. I am curious what will happen tonight – probably a bit more freedom, but also a bit less concentration than yesterday…
Last week I broke my own record of concerts in a row: 8 concerts in 9 nights in four different places, Elgar in Dresden, Dohnanyi in Dortmund, Dvorak in Brussels (poor Truls MÃ¶rk had to cancel because of health problems) and two chambermusic concerts at the small but excellent festival of Lars Vogt in Heimbach. Tiring? Not really – somehow I am more tired if I play less, maybe due to the adrenalin which starts flowing when I have a crazy schedule like that, having to drive after concerts 600 km from one place to the other, commuting back and fourth between two cities to rehearse (Brussels and Heimbach). A day has 17 hours, and one can do a whole lot in this time if one plans it efficiently. Automatically I am more discplined in times like that as well, and much more productive. Already in school I was at my best when I had loads to do. As soon as I had a free weekend I didn’t get anything done – except maybe recharging the battery, like the coming weekend: shooting some balls with Janos, cooking, watching soccer, chilling out. Yes!