Alban's Blog

Long live Wifi!

While Sitting here in my dressing room at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg (gorgeous hall) and listening to the second half of the concert through the speakers, I am able to check e-mail, write a blog, follow the Yankees loosing to the Red Sox (well, the bases are loaded in the 7th inning, ARod is up next…) and pay two bills – thanks to the Wifi in this entire space here! Where would we be without it? It really makes my life so much easier; already to be able to not having to talk on the phone constantly but instead do all the necessary communication via e-mail. The older I get the less I like talking on the phone, I find it so impersonal and tiring, and on top of it my memory has become so poorly that I don’t remember anything I am saying on the phone. Since I can type almost as fast as I speak (and I am a fast speaker!) it gives me much more time at hand to do important things, like checking the sports results for example (oops, ARod just grounded out, inning over) 🙂 The concert was very enjoyable, it’s a beautiful hall here, good audience (they didn’t have to pay, so it was packed, last concert of the season), and I absolutely adored the conductor of the Orchestra Philharmonique de Luxembourg, French Emanuel Krivine. Very original and strong personality, sometimes a bit too direct for certain people (especially musicians, we are soooo senstive), but with a great sense of humour and wonderful musicianship. We did Brahms Double (the concertmaster of the orchestra, Hiaoxing Ling, did a great job in his first Brahms), again I must say, and it was one of the most exciting I have been part of.

Second half consisted of Dvorak 8, and again, great drive, beautiful music making, tomorrow I’ll listen to it in the hall. Oh, it’s no hall, it’ s church, what a pity, might have to wait until next week when we have a little run-out to Amsterdam – good old Concertgebouw with its blessed acoustics will be fun. Today I got another cancellation call for somebody for doing another Elgar in Stuttgart with Sir Roger (Norrington), just during the time I am in Amsterdam. Too bad, would have loved to work for the first time with the guy who has his orchestra play without vibrato – I heard them once in Beijing playing Elgar 1st Symphony without any vibrato, and after a bit of getting used to I actually really enjoyed it. But still I believe that back then musicians vibrated, just not as wide and compulsive as nowadays. It is a wonderful exercise though to have an orchestra get used to play without the shaking of the left hand; this way they have to focus more on what they do with their bow arm, with which the actual music is being made.

I practise very often without vibrato, entire movements, and I try not to play it cold and sterile, but with all the music I have in me, all nuances and colours, just no vibrato. Very cleansing I must say. But then on stage, with a big romantic piece like the Brahms, I am fully aware that I sometimes overdo it. Long process to learn – must have to do with the nerves and the tension on stage – and also with the fact that I do like vibrato 🙂

It is hard for me to focus these days, because the renovation work has started in our new home in Berlin, and I feel responsable and bad that I can’t be there to watch over the workers. Trust, trust, but I have had so many bad experiences with workers that I have a hard time trusting. Soon I’ll be gone to Australia and New Zealand for three weeks, I wonder how that will all work out. I’ll tell you here beginning of August. Can’t believe I am going during summertime to a country where will be winter. Arghh!!!

OK, now there is a reception, and I want to go there, because the sponsor is a Champagne company, so there will be lots of nice champagne, which I deserve after all the hard work I did tonight. Have a great night!




  • Bob Hardie

    Dear Alban,

    How do you do it? Carry on this unbelievably busy professional life, yet still have time to add to your blog fairly frequently.

    I returned to Australia two weeks ago and am still finding my “southern feet” after 3 years in New York. I don’t know if you’ve been to Australia and NZ before, but the winters are nowhere near as severe as they are in Europe. Mind you, you will be in the southern parts; hardly Hawaii! But rest assured, you will be given a very warm welcome here in the Antipodes.

    Much as I would love to, I doubt that I will get to one of your concerts here. I am in Perth, which could hardly be further away from where you’ll be. However, do have the pleasure of listening to the Haydn Concerto N0. 2 in D major as I type this.

    Enjoy the champagne.

    All the best.


  • Alban

    Dear Bob,
    well, I am looking onto the airfield here in Melbourne while waiting for my connecting flight to Hobart. Don’t worry, I’ll come to the rest of Australia fairly soon, Melbourne and Sidney next spring, and maybe one day even Perth! Yes, it is not as cold as I feared, and I am very, very excited to be here for the first time. What a great country!
    Best wishes,


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