Alban's Blog

Alkan in Antwerpen with Steven Osborne – New CD Release

Last night Steven and me played the devilishly difficult Sonata by Charles-Valentin Alkan for the first time in public, a small but very attentive audience in Antwerp, Belgium, since having recorded it last December in London for Hyperion. It was pure coincidence that the cd had just been released last week; the original release date was supposed to be end of November, and nobody had told us about the change of dates – lucky move, since people always prefer buying the piece they just have heard.It was a bit of a tour de force: I arrived after a nine hour train ride the day before the concert in Antwerp in order to rehearse with Steven. We worked very well and intense, but I realized that I needed quite a lot of work on my own part, which meant, tons of practising on the day of the concert – not really my favorite thing to do, but I had to many memory lapsuses during the rehearsal and didn’t feel completely on top of my game.

I got up early, practised and rehearsed for almost 7 hours but didn’t manage to take a real nab before the concert on which I had actually counted and which made the concert for me, well, let’s call it “very interesting”. Because my mind wasn’t as fresh as I would have needed it, I couldn’t think far enough ahead in order to play safely by memory, so I must admit that I rarely have been so shaky memory-wise. The fact that I had such a hard time rememorizing the Alkan-Sonata surprised and worries me, because I had owned the piece 10 months ago, and now gone? Is this age or just too much information for my little brain? Or just not enough napping time?  Let’s see how well the Alkan will sink in during the next week for our recital in Paris 🙂

Oh, and the travel is another story. While my 9h travel from Berlin to Antwerp went rather smoothly (except me having been late for the first train thus having to take a taxi to catch the second train at 6:30 am), today I am in trains since 7:59 this morning and still not home – instead of 8h30 travel time it will take me more than 10 hours because of several train delays and missed connections. Crazy to think that I had to take 7 different trains to get from an important Belgium city to the German capital. Unified Europe? Not in the train system. I also needed 6 different tickets to get me back and fourth since I was going through three different countries.

But again, no regrets, I still prefer the train over the plane, I love to work, sleep, read and study on the train, and actually, during the ten hours today I wasn’t bored for a single second. So, now the last train is approaching my “home station” Nikolassee, and I will be home at last!

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