The infamous Haydn D Major – how come this piece scares every single cellist? It ain’t fair, because it doesn’t sound difficult, not even remotely so, doesn’t look anything, but still we pee our pants before having to play it. This morning in the dress rehearsal I felt as incapable as I hadn’t felt in a long time (maybe I shouldn’t have watched the Tour de France until 4 am) and lucky enough the saying of “bad dress rehearsal, good concert” worked once again, but still I wasn’t completely fulfilled with myself. What to do with this piece of music? Lovely, springlike, fresh, yes, but at the same time so delicate and dangerous, that you just have to watch out and concentrate so much for just playing in tune.Sorry, should have mentioned, I am in Wellington right now, playing six concerts altogether with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with Julia Jones conducting, and except the horrible weather here I am loving it. The orchestra is incredibly willing and Julia Jones makes them play this repertoire they are not so familiar with like as if it’s their own. They even played the Haydn “authentically informed”, meaning not too much vibrato and real good phrasing. And their Schumann 4th Symphony was an excellent performance. We Europeans shouldn’t be too full of ourselves – they are able to play “our” music sometimes better than us ourselves.
And the nice thing is that since it is such a long way out, they treat us (the conductor and me) really well – besides nice hotel and nice food after the concert, they show us that they are happy we came all the way out here. In winter! I can’t believe it, spending the precious summer months at a very chilly and extremely windy 8 degrees Celsius, which feel much rather like 3 degrees. Until now it has been raining all the time, and this morning on my way to the dress rehearsal my cello almost flew away, so for the concert I accepted the cab they are providing, although the hall is just 500 m away. But at the same time I should be happy it is so grim outside, because I have to practice like an idiot. Not only the Haydn and the Sinfonia Concertante (which I am doing in the second concert tomorrow in the same hall, dress rehearsal at 10 am, in exactly 9 hours…) , but also the Concerto by Prokofiev which I am recording beginning of September in Bergen, and I have to confess, I just started learning it.
Yes, the Sinfonia Concertante is based upon the concerto, and when the Hyperion people asked me if it was worth recording the two pieces together, I had a look into the score and realized that the Concerto consists of the same material as the Sinfonia Concertante, but it does completely different things with it, so I agreed to record the two pieces for one cd – but it is highly confusing to learn it, since it is so similar, but never the same. Similar passages but with just a few different notes in it, or in a different key. But mainly it’s completely different and not much easier than the Sinfonia Concertante, which Rostropowitsch helped crafting; he even claimed that he wrote certain passages. I believe it, because it is like some of the Horowitz-transcripition on the piano. Sounds develishly difficult while not being so hard, just very effective writing – the opposite of Haydn D Major, so I find it actually quite funny to do these two pieces on the same tour with the same orchestra.
Before I look like a ghost for the rehearsal tomorrow morning and Usha, the artistic coordinator of the orchestra, gives me a hard time for being such a sleeping pill, I’d better get some rest right now, especially since Julia, the conductress, warned me, if I showed up later than 10 minutes before the start of the rehearsal, she would play everything at half-speed. She knows me well – I would hate that most, because I believe that this piece suffers a lot by being played too self-indulgently slow and sticky.
Oh, I used this really bizarre metaphor at a luncheon with the friends of the orchestra (I had to talk about the Prokofiev), comparing these musicians who rest at every single “beautiful moment” (resting meaning taking tons of time, slowing down or just really more or less stopping the pulse) comparing these people to little dogs who pee at every single better-looking tree/bush and make the poor owner wait for ever… 🙂 Oh yes, I know, I am sooo mean, and maybe just too unmusical to understand that this is real profound music-making!