Alban's Blog

Back to work…

With Janos in MauritiusFor the first time ever I took four weeks off playing the cello, and I must admit I could have got used to it – – I spent a heavenly time on the gorgeous island of Mauritius together with Janos, it was so good, that I really have a hard time getting into the working mode again. After three weeks of water-skiing, diving (we did our Advanced Open Water Exam, which doesn’t mean anything but that we are allowed to dive up to 30m), wind-surfing, snorkeling, sailing, katamaraning, para-sailing, reading, eating wonderful food and sleeping a whole lot I could just continue doing this for at least another month…
Well, Mauritius is quite a paradise: the weather was just perfect for us, not too hot, not too
Sunset cold, the right amount of sun, rain, clouds, the water invitingly warm, and the people of Mauritius are lovely, very respectful with the environment and their guests, but not too subservient in their service. And the hotel in which we were staying really seemed like paradise on earth – now I understand why I didn’t take holidays for a while: I wanted to wait and be able to afford the perfect ones 🙂

But now I am on my way to Texas, to play the Brahms Double Concerto in Fort Worth with my good friend Miguel Hardt-Bedoya and the young violonist Augustin Hadelich, whom I haven’t met yet. Last week as the first concert after holidays, I did the season opener of the Radio Orchestra Berlin (RSB), playing the Beethoven Triple under Marek Janowski (Steven Osborne and Shunsuke Sato doing the “supporting cast” ) – what stress, after not having touched the cello for nearly a month, the most dangerous of all “cello concerti” (yes, it ain’t one, but since it’s the only thing Beethoven wrote for us cellists, we claim it “ours”!).

How did I prepare to get back into shape? I picked the cello up from my violinmaker who had done some necessary cosmetic work on it three days before the first rehearsal, and the first two days I only practiced technique, did the most basic exercises you can imagine: open strings, stuff for the left hand, scales, arpeggios, double-stops (fourths) and a bit of Bach. Not until the day before the first rehearsal did I start with the Beethoven itself, and because by then my fingers knew their way around the fingerboard again, it came back pretty quickly.

Ok, the performance wasn’t perfect, I was a bit nervous, with radio and all, but actually I have never received such a enthusiast reception after the Tripleconcerto: people actually cheered, which I think was mainly because of the excellent interpretation from the conductor: he managed to make this piece sound much more “Sturm und Drang” than for example Karajan. It felt like the masterpiece it is, which only works when the orchestra part isn’t being played without passion, too heavy and without direction. First concert in the sold out Berlin Konzerthaus, the next in Essen (towards Cologne), in its beautiful Philharmonie, new hall, sound quite amazing – only they are struggling to fill it.

Unfortunately I can’t just focus on the upcoming concerts (Brahms Double in Forth Worth, Rococo in Reutlingen and Leipzig, Shosta II in Berlin, Dvorak in Cologen), but I have to pre-practice ( and learn) the Pintscher, Schönberg and Britten concerti. The Pintscher I just started, tough piece, don’t think I will manage to actually memorize it, which is a pity, but 40 minutes of constant playing complicated rhythms and impossible 64th-cascades would probably kill my brain… Well, I go back to watching some movies here in the airplane, will write soon with a report about the concerts in Fort Worth!


  • Bob

    Well done Albi! It’s nice to see you relaxing with your family for a change. I hope such vacations come more frequently now. There are more important things than work or even music. And such great photos! Now you have some new mental images to play with.

  • Alban

    Thanks, Bob! Well, I am afraid I will have to take some more holidays, because I feel that I can’t run all my life from one concert to another while trying to give everything I have in my soul; yes, these mental images are rather essential to keep on making music. You should do the same, you deserve some real good vacation.


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