Alban's Blog

Close Call

Do I already regret having committed myself to fly in between rather tiring concerts to Montreal for a solo recital? Well, last night I played the first of two concerts in Leipzig (Rococo Variations with the Gewandhaus and Dmitri Kitaenko), and even though it went quite well, I would call that concert a close call. I tried to be as discinplined as I could during the trip to and from Canada, sleeping as much as feasible, and upon my arrival in Leipzig, inspite of having to practice like a maniac, I also got some good night sleep. But still, last night while playing the Rococo Variations, I felt physically very challenged, especially my right hand and arm didn’t feel in control, and throughout the piece I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it through the last variation. I somehow managed to hang on, and even my toughest critic, my father, who came together with my mother to hear me (and visit some relatives as well), said he had rarely heard my cello sound so good – but he had no idea how close to desaster I felt. The physical exhaustion was such that I pictured myself loosing the bow or just embarrassing myself otherwise. Consequences? Do I have to wait until the final collapse? Mh, I guess so, haven’t been burned yet. 

This morning I got up at 6 am, took a flight at 8 to Cologne, arrived (in time!) at 9:10 at Cologne airport, at 9:37 at the hall, warmed up a couple of minutes, met with wonderful Markus Stenz at 9:50 to talk through Dvorak, rehearsed from 10 until 11:35 (great first movement, with a great flow, he rehearsed it real well) and then I had to run to the train station to catch at 11:54 the train via Frankfurt to Leipzig where I will arrive at 4:46 pm, just in time to re-focus on some Rococo for tonight. I am less afraid for tonight because the travelling itself isn’t the most tiring factor. What wore me down yesterday and the day before was the rather big amount of highly concentrated practising during the day – but I needed it desperately, and yes, I am slowly showing progress on the Pintscher concerto J  But today I will be much more relaxed since I won’t do too much work this afternoon, just sleep and relax – I’ll take last night’s scary sensation of near-collapse as a warning!


  • George

    Wow!! what experiences you have had….I am jealous in a way of your travels by train etc. through Europe…The beautiful scenary that you enjoy as you move about (when your not asleep) I have had the disconcerting knowledge during a performance that some part of my body is not working right…is tired or the worst of all is cramping!! I consider it the mark of a true pro to deliver when it is needed….to find that reserve within yourself to continue on and give what is needed. To adjust whatever must be adjusted…At these times there is so much going on inside of us that is not visible to the outside world….well at hopefully not anyway!

    Best Regards to all!

    George (from CA.)

  • Alban

    Oh yeah, you have reason to be jealous: travelling in the ICE (the German fast train) is incredibly comfortable and relaxing, quite a different story to the US trains… 🙂 If the people only knew what is going on inside of us during a performance, they would be probably shocked, you are right!
    OK, now I’ll write a new blog after all these concerts, since I am back in Berlin, it’s about time – the last one I wrote last week and just posted it, because I didn’t have time to go online and post it…
    Best wishes from Berlin,


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