Now I finally understand good old Pablo (Casals) who moved to Puerto Rico when he was 80 years old, got married to a young Puerto Rican and died there 16 years later. OK, I am far from being Casals, and I am not 80 yet, neither have I moved here – but being 4 weeks in a row at the same place has almost got the feel of living here, especially since I did indeed married a young Puerto Rican (14 years ago) and do live right now in the house of her parents. Sure, I knew the island before, but this is the first time that I have had the luxury of spending plenty of time here while having to practise – and it is so much more fun than I thought it would be.I just made it my custom to sit for three hours from 10 until 1 pm after having had a huge cafe con leche and two mangos from the garden on the terrace overlooking all these gorgeous palm trees and the other gigantic rain-forest-like plants while practising away, learning fervently the new piece which today officially entered my brain – I have learnt it by heart at last. One month of practising it more or less every day (with interruptions of travel and laziness) I have accumulated about 60 hours now, and I am so relieved to know it 2 weeks prior to the recordings already. For the first time in my life (!) I am too early with having learned a piece, and it feels great. Maybe it has to do with age, that I become more responsible with deadlines, or just luck that I had 4 weeks off, I don’t know, or maybe it is indeed the good vibes of Puerto Rico, the beach in the afternoon, the crazy pool-games I am playing with my son JÃ¡nos, and last but not least the delicious food of my mother-in-law Carmen.
Only downside is the incredible humidity (feels like 110%…) which made my cello expand and somehow the string height increase that I could hardly push the strings down two octaves above the open strings; well, I thought it was the humidity, until today I tried to save my poor bridge which looked strangely bent. I took it off to “massage” it a bit and straighten it up, and immediately the soundpose fell down. My violinmaker in Berlin, Ingeborg Behnke, took the time to talk me through the process of checking different things which my poor old Goffriller, et voilÃ¡, the neck is loose. Rather bad news, since it requires a bigger operation I am not ready and willing to perform in Puerto Rico. This afternoon we found a lovely luthier here on the island who will run some glue right between neck and corpus (of the cello, obviously… :)), cut me a substitute bridge so that I can continue working without ruining my poor hurting fingers.
So today I had no cello to work on but I had promised myself to finish memorizing the Chin Concerto; so I practised without the infamous piece of wood between my legs, going through the piece bar by bar with and without music, and tonight, at the beach, I forced the last page into my brain, while the waves were giving me a very welcome background sound – so soothing and pieceful, the perfect setting for the ending of a gorgeous work which I can from today on call my own!