For me the most difficult task is to be constantly playing different repertoire. As a musician I believe it is rather healthy not to be playing always the same pieces â€“ it keeps you fresh, keeps you on your toes and keeps you working. But the situation I am experiencing these days isnâ€™t ideal either. Concertos arenâ€™t even the problem, they are rather short (Shostakovich No.1 yesterday took about 25 minutes, I guess), I have played most of them often enough, so this isnâ€™t my main concern.
It is the recitals I am suffering by, especially since many organizers have their own needs for repertoire, have their favourites and donâ€™t want the same pieces twice within three years. And then my poor pianists whom I canâ€™t force to play whatever is convenient for me, because their job is even harder â€“ more notes, far bigger repertoire, and since I am playing with pianists who are soloists themselves they canâ€™t dedicate all their time to learning new cello repertoire all the time.
My big problem is solely self-created: I absolutely love to play by heart, and I believe that I can make better music when I memorize the pieces I am performing on stage. But while in a concerto this is rather easy to do so since I have the main line, in sonata repertoire it is often accompaniment the cellist has to play. On top of it the length of a program: When I play with orchestra, I am playing most of the times just one concerto, while in a recital at least three pieces worth 75 minutes of music. To stick that into your head is sometimes really gruelling.
Three days ago concerto in Glasgow, next day rehearsals in Hanover (after 7 hour travel via Amsterdam), last night recital with Markus Becker, one day off, then travel and concert in South of Germany with partly different repertoire â€“ and tons of practising in between. Why donâ€™t I plan it better? Yes, I should, but when my managers call me about an interesting concert (last nightâ€™s concert took place in an Orangerie of a castle, and a young poet was reading is poetry in between us playing a recital) I always say yes without thinking if it might ever be too much for me. If I can physically get somewhere in time, and I like to go there, I agree. I never realize how much time the travelling takes and I forget about the different repertoireâ€¦
The day I had to perform the the Shostakovich Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony and young, wonderful conductor Stefan Solyom, I couldnâ€™t relax and just focus on Shostakovich, but I had to learn the the different recital programs for the next two weeks:
Shostakovich No.1, Sonatas by Reger (F-Major with piano, G-Major solo), Strauss (and Romance), Prokofiev, Beethoven A, Shostakovich, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ligeti, Kodaly (solo), Piazzollas Grand Tango, Janacek Tales, all Bachsuites.
Absolutely right, it makes me more vulnerable â€“ last night I had a two bar memory slip in the Reger Sonata (as if anybody would careâ€¦) â€“ but I avoid automatically any kind of routine, since every concert starts from scratch again. Once on a tour I had to play 6 times in a row Saint-Saens Concerto, and I must admit, by the 5th time I was getting worried that I was running out of ideas how to keep the performance fresh and free of pre-planned routine. When I was younger, I used to pin-point every musical detail, to write in my part exactly what I was going to do and what the meaning of different phrases were; nowadays, my parts donâ€™t even have a single bowing or fingering in it â€“ I leave it up my the moment, leave room for improvisation, as far as it is possible with written-down music.
Right now I am in the train going back home to