What a privilege to be able to play one of the great concertos of all times in one of the most gorgeous halls in the world, Boston Symphony Hall! I played here already three years ago, but I was far too nervous to actually enjoy and live the moment – tonight I was much more at ease, and it felt really special. Actually, today we even had two concerts; the dress rehearsal was an open one, and when I got to the hall at 9 am to practice I saw already many people streaming towards the hall. I got scared, thought, that maybe the rehearsal didn’t start at 10:30 but at 9:30. But no, it was just the free seating which made people come really easy so that could grab the best seat in the house. At 10:30 the house was packed and we didn’t “rehearse” but played a full-powered performance for this lovely audience.I am not a big complainer, but I had moments when I wished I could just stay home and enjoy my life. Tonight was one of the moments which reimbursed me for all the trouble this profession (or calling) brings with it. Playing Dvorak Concerto with Boston Symphony under a conductor like Marek Janowski (for me one of the great living conductors) just pays off anything, and at least on stage the Symphony Hall sounds better than all other halls I have played in – the cello plays more or less on its own. Audience wonderful, very attentive and apreciative at the end, and I must admit, I am really sad that already a third of my time in Boston is over 🙁
The last concerto my mother heard me play live before she died was the Dvorak in Cologne about one year ago, and whenever I play it now, I have to remember her incredibly profound reaction right afterwards. She was so touched because she knew it was the last time she would ever be able to hear me in concert (I knew it as well), and since I owe her so much (without her patience I would never ever have developped the stamina and musicianship I did develop at the end), the Dvorak has become an even closer piece to me. Dvorak himself had heard about the death of his sister-in-law Josephine, whom he actually loved (couldn’t get her, so he married the sister), and when he heard about her death, he wrote this to me most amazing Coda, the end of the concerto, which adds a completely different level to the piece, actually similarly to the Elgar.
Both these concertos I see as rather introvert with their shares of passionate out-breaks, but even then there is a pensive quality. Isn’t that what cello is all about anyway? We are not this source of loud noise but much rather soulful and mourning, and the Dvorak incorporates these cello-qualities at its best, putting all the other concertos in a shadow, because the whole piece is just far too perfect to be true. And whenever there is a conductor who doesn’t accompany but anticipates and takes the lead at times, who provides the performance with a much needed inner beat, the beauty of this “symphony with cello obligato”comes out even more and transforms the world into a better place, at least for 40 minutes.
Now back in my hotel room after spending the evening with my old friend Chee-Yun who happened to be in town I better get some rest, otherwise the private performance for the UBS Bank might be endangered tommorrow… 🙂