Alban's Blog

Happy New Year to Everybody :)

Well, time passes far too quickly – I thought I had two long, beautiful weeks off after this recording session in London (that’s when I wrote the last blog), and yes, it has been two weeks, but they weren’t long at all, passed so quickly with all that celebrating, family gathering, playing games and putting order in the apartment. Being the member of a huge family also brings so much diversion that time is flying by; I have four siblings, two of them have their own family with two respectively three children and rather wonderful partners – it’s a joy spending time with them, but sometimes I wished I would be bored more often in order for time to stand still and not rush forward constantly. But the days are just too full. Anyway, Happy New Year to everybody who stops by and reads this! I am sitting right now in my dressing room in Swansea (Wales) – long live wireless lan! – between the dress rehearsal and the concert. Yes, holidays are over and I have to go back to work, luckily enough it is one of the nicer group of people I have a chance working with here: the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with whom I have already recorded the Bridge Oration (in the same hall where we play tonight the Dvorak Concerto) and the Berkeley Concerto, and I must admit, they react so well to everything I am trying to do in this piece, they play with so much passion from the first rehearsal on (yesterday in Cardiff) that I am very much looking forward to playing for the 100th (or more) time the Dvorak.

No, I get never sick playing it, since it’s such a great work that it humbles deeply that I am allowed and able to perform. Why? Is it just the melodies and the texture, the harmonic structure – I have no idea, but it is one of the few pieces which feel incredibly good playing them. Probably it brings out the best of the cello, and Dvorak managed to keep the orchestra score small enough to let the cello come out while keeping it more interesting for the orchestra than any other cello concerto. We’ll see what’ll happen tonight, but I am very optimistic that it could become one of my better “Dvoraks” ๐Ÿ™‚

For New Years I didn’t do anything special – just eating a bit and playing some games at my parents house while my two brother-in-law’s gave us a little jam session with percussion and piano; very tasteful and inspiring, I wished I could do something like that. Tried it once and 10% of the improv was quite good, but the rest I found too embarrassing to actually continue doing it. One day…

Everybody is setting some goals for the new year, and today I was realising that I had completely forgotten to do that. I like doing that, but it had slipped my mind, maybe subconsciously because it is so frustrating not to achieve what one has hoped for (well, if I’d do it now it would be that I really want to learn Spanish – my son speaks it and I am taking already private lessons, but I want to be perfect, not just being able to understand a bit and read a book, but speak it fluently). Oh, I am so impatient, it is very hard for me to start something new since I want it all at once, and as perfect as possible. Maybe that’s the downside of being good at one thing: it is very hard to accomplish anything else on that level. I started learning how to play tennis 16 months ago, and it is a misery, since I am sooooooo far from being any good at it, but I dare to enjoy it anyway, which already is an improvement.

I admire people who are good at many things, who know a lot about everything and have lots to say – I always prefer to shut up and listen then, since I feel incredibly small in comparison (well, I AM small, but that’s another subject :)). In the background I hear the orchestra rehearse their Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, what an incredible piece, too bad I won’t be able to listen to it tonight since I am racing back to Heathrow (with a nice little rental car) to get some hours of sleep before the flight leaves far too early tomorrow morning. But I want to be back home early enough to celebrate the Holy Three Kings with my wife and son – she as a Puerto Rican takes it almost as important as Christmas, and I love any opportunity to celebrate anything.

And now some nice Curry before the concert – best wishes and best of luck for 2008!


  • Josh Rappaport from Harrisburg Pennsylvania

    Happy New Year to you too Alban. And keep up the good work. You’re a fabulous cellist

  • Huw Bellamy

    Hi Alban, my wife and I enjoyed your performance at the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea last night. It is the first classical concert we’ve been to in a few years and it was great to see such passion – thanks. Huw.

  • Alban

    Hi Huw,
    glad you liked your first experience in a classical concert after some years – it felt quite good while playing, even though I was a bit nervous about the outcome because I had completely stopped paying attention to technical details and rather “went for it” which left room for some imperfection I personally didn’t mind, but one never knows…
    How did you like the Bartok? I stayed to listen to it because I had a craving to hear that great piece, and I thought it was a exquisite and very powerful performance.
    Thanks for coming to Brangwyn Hall, come again! Alban

  • Alban

    Hi Kenneth,
    too bad you didn’t stay for the second half, you really missed a great Bartok – and I would have loved to meet up with a fellow CCM student! Whom did you study with? And how the hell did you manage to connect your blog with mine? Very interesting – thanks for the very flattering words, I am truly honored, especially since you are a cellist yourself. When did you become a conductor? Now I have the task trying to combine my blog with yours, let’s see if I manage… Will you be around in February in Cardiff? I will be back to record the Honegger Concerto with NOW. Maybe some coffee?lunch?dinner?
    All best from freezing Norway,

  • Guanaco

    Hi Alban,

    There are at least 172 active Cello-bloggers, that I know of – I have them listed in my blog’s sidebar. We also maintain a list of cello blogs (including yourself and Kenneth Woods) at our online community set up for cellists who blog: CelloBloggers.

    So what would it take to persuade you to come to Alaska?

    Best Regards

  • Alban

    Hey Guanaco,
    don’t have much time to check your blog out right now, but will do as soon as I have a breather… What it takes to persuade me to come to Alaska? A concert ๐Ÿ™‚ If I can combine it with another date in the US I am even not that expensive. Is there an orchestra in Alaska? Would love to come, always love to go somewhere where I haven’t been before (well, who doesn’t!).
    Best wishes,


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