Alban's Blog

Summer Holidays – Recharging Batteries

Another long period of silence from my part, I am very sorry, but I had nothing to say, I am afraid. Oh yes, I had enough time, but I was in a phase were I didn’t feel the need to write nor to express myself. What did I do? Oh, not too much, I think I needed some time to recharge my batteries, be at home, talk with my little family, read, cook, see movies, practise a bit, do some home improvement work – just being lazy and snuggly in my nest.

The concert schedule was very light – I even managed to not take the cello out of its case for two full weeks until I had the chance to replace poor Truls Mörk (I think he got bit by a tick and has some severe problems, is cancelling half a year of concerts, what a loss!) in Hamburg, playing Schumann with the NDR (radio orchestra) under its chief C.v.Dohnanyi in the most beautiful Musikhalle of Hamburg for which I received one of the most forgetful reviews of my life; I won’t quote it here but reviews like that have the effect that many musicians don’t dare to take risks anymore on stage because we are being picked at if we miss a couple of notes. The guy even mentioned that the Schumann concerto belongs to the easier concertos (well, at least I consider it as probably the most awkward and technically as well as musically challenging works of the cello repertoire, but what do I know!) which makes it even worse that I overshot a couple of high notes. But at least I enjoyed playing with his German top-orchestra (acting principal cellist was my old friend Olaf Maninger who is principal cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic, which increased my level of nervousness…) and one of Germany’s legendary conductors – you can’t really tell that he is already 82, so much energy and wit, indeed inspiring me to take the risks I took… (yes, it’s always the other’s fault :))

I played it again last week in Bad Kissingen with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and wonderful young Eivind Gulberg Jensen whom I knew from before but never had worked with. Wonderful musician and nice man to be with – he brought his entire family and it made me melancholic to see his little kids jumping around breakfast while my son is growing up sooo quickly. What joy to just crawl around the floor of the breakfast buffet in this a bit stiff 5-star-hotel, pretending there is no one else around than these two lovely little children – I really miss having little children around. Right, easy to say if I can sleep well through the night and just get the joy of playing with the them for an hour…

In between my two Schumanns I travelled to Porto for a two performances of Shostakovich’s First Concerto, and I was deeply impressed by the development of this orchestra. Maybe it had to do with their new, rather young chief conductor Christoph König that they played on a completely different level than two years ago. Even though I was rather exhausted after giving it all in the Shostakovich I opted (once again) to play Romeo and Juliet of Prokofiev in the second half, not only because I love that piece but because the vibes in that orchestra were so good that I wanted to feel it from within. And their hall is spectacular, the “Casa de la Musica” – brand new with very interesting programming, truly a house for music with its wide variety from baroque performance practise to modern ensemble (Remix), in between the big symphony orchestra. Maybe it hasn’t the same prestige as other European capitals, but they are surely catching up!

After playing tons of tennis, practising Chin and cleaning up the apartment in Berlin I am on my way travelling behind my little family to Puerto Rico to visit my charming mother-in-law and spend some quiet hours on the beautiful deck of their house (maybe also some beach time and some serious diving…)! Happy Summer everybody!!!


  • Robert

    I think it’s a shame you were so affected by a bad review (did you mean frightful or forgettable? forgetful can’t be the right word!). I love reading your blog but think it was probably a mistake to refer to it. However, openness is your hallmark and if that’s how you felt than maybe it was right to say it – but in that case it would be better to give a link to what the guy wrote so that we can see what you’re commenting on. Those of us that come to your concerts and listen to your CDs can make our own minds up and the fact that we come back for more speaks for itself. You’re a great artist who won’t be forgotten, while I’m sure that critic will!

  • Alban

    Dear Robert,
    why would it be a mistake to refer to a bad review? Only mistake would be indeed to be affected and change one’s approach to making music which won’t happen, I promise! To be honest I felt a bit insulted by it, but if I see what people in politics or sports have to read about themselves in the papers we musicians are overly sensitive, that’s a fact, and I am not proud of. You are right, I should have added the link to this lovely review, here it is, in German though:
    Thanks for your nice words – and in the future I won’t pay attention to reviews anymore 🙂

  • Robert

    Thanks Alban. Taking critics seriously lifts them to a status they don’t deserve. I bet the members of your audience didn’t go home and look for the Hamburger Abendblatt beofre deciding whether they liked your playing. They’ll remember it for a LONG time, while the newspaper is already fish-and chip wrapping (or its German equivalent!).



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