Just got back to the hotel after playing a run-out performance with the Utah Symphony in Ogden, 32 miles from Salt Lake City.
I had to play one of my favourite concerti, the Sinfonia Concertante by Prokofiev, a piece which works really well if one takes the markings of the composer seriously – shaves off about 10 minutes from performances. Actually rather simple: just don’t drop to half speed whenever there is a slow tune to milk. Think long lines, think like a singer, and immediately the piece grows and becomes much more effective.
Keith Lockhart is the chief conductor of this really good orchestra – they enjoy playing, and we had two very efficient rehearsals, two performances in Salt Lake City will follow on Friday and Saturday, but today we had to play at this weird hall in Ogden. For me these run-out concerts present the biggest challenge, because one leaves the hotel in the afternoon, drives for quite a while, gets there an hour before the concert, completely tired and uninspired, and often the halls neither the audience are of the greatest quality.
Today was no difference: very dry hall, and the audience was sitting rather far away, besides the fact that it was not very full (bad weather, and a cellist playing Prokofiev, who wants to hear that?!), which made it difficult to feel this for me so essential connection with the audience during a performance. Somebody explained to me once that memorable concerts don’t happen through a perfect performance, but they can happen when the aura of the artist mixes with the ones of the audience; everybody feels suddenly connected and drawn into something deeper, not really understanding what it is. The hall plays a major role in that – if it has cold vibes and not the warmest acoustic, it might prove impossible to get to this state of connection artist-audience.
In order to still give a good performance it really takes a lot of energy out of me, and that’s why I am rather empty and exhausted now, ready to go to bed, especially since I am being picked up at 8:15 am to go – SKIING! Yeah, finally some fun again. Yes, I know, have a concert that same evening, but it helps the inspiration to ski in one of the most beautiful resorts in the world 🙂