Alban's Blog

Travel to Australia

My last concert in Europe this season happened two days ago, playing the Rococo Variations with the Russian National Orchestra under Philippe Auguin in Bad Kissingen, but unfortunately I am not going to some well-deserved family holidays, but while my son and his mother are travelling to her mother to Puerto Rico, I am right now on my way to my first visit to Australia and later New Zealand. Actually pretty exciting, but I just find it very sad that I can’t spend the first half of Janos’ summer holidays with him – something I swore myself to avoid, and when the offer came to play during summer on the other half of the world I agreed hoping I could take him with me. I wasn’t aware though that it is winter in New Zealand right now, and this poor German boy deserves a nice summer after the grueling German winters…But back to the “Rococos” – my God, that piece still doesn’t get any easier, and this time I was especially nervous because playing it with a Russian orchestra meant having musicians sitting behind me who know how to play Tchaikovsky. No, they didn’t treat me badly at all, but I didn’t want to disappoint them. Besides that I had listened to the second half of a piano recital in the afternoon before my evening concert, and I was really thrilled by a young Russian pianist, Olga Kern, about whom I had heard many things but never had a chance to listen to her music. Not only did she portrait great (and very natural) charisma on stage as well as playing the piano on the highest level, she was also great fun to talk to. She had already planned to come to “my” concert as well, which made me even more nervous, and if I would have known that Vadim Repin was sitting in the audience as well, I might just not have played :)  But I was lucky, had no idea he was there, and when he showed up in intermission I almost fell out of my shoes – wonderful player and very nice man; we played together 15 years ago some chambermusic concerts with my old teacher Boris Pergamenchikov. I had planned to drive with a rent-a-car directly after my performance back to Berlin (300 miles), but because of the charming company of these Russian musicians I decided to hang out a bit and I didn’t get to leave until midnight, which brought me back home after 3 am.

Why would I do something like that and not getting a good night sleep at the hotel? Well, I had exactly 14 hours at home before dropping the car at the airport and flying via Frankfurt and Dubai (where I am sitting in the lounge right now) very soon to Australia. And in order to see my little family a last time before disappearing for three weeks, I needed that little drive through the night. Had a little BMW, which drove excellent, didn’t even eat too much gas…

Oh, did I mention already that I had to do another Brahms Double with this amazingly inspiring French conductor Emmanuel Krivine? No, the last blog I wrote in my dressing room in Luxembourg, and last Thursday we had a “run-out” concert in Amsterdam, the magic Concertgebouw with its many steps one has to go down (in front of the entire audience) before getting to the stage – pretty frightening, but it was stimulating to sit between two French charmeurs (the violinist this time was Renaud Capucon whom I had never played the Brahms with, but he did it already so many times with his brother that we had no problems putting it together in no time) on that big stage as well as in the restaurant afterwards where I tried to follow the quick and witty conversations between my two collaborators with their partners, rather unsuccesfully, I must admit. I understand and speak a bit of French, but they were too quick for me, and especially in the jokes I lost them a bit. Next to me was the new lady-friend of Renaud, a top French newscaster, beautiful and highly intelligent woman, good catch, Renaud! 🙂

Sorry for writing not very coherent, but I forced myself not to sleep during the nocturnal flight to Dubai for me to get over jet-lag quicker. My plan is to take the blindfold right after dinner on the flight between Dubai and Melbourne, put the earplugs and try to sleep 12 hours. That way I would wake up at around 5 am and should be ready for my first day on Australian sole without suffering too much of jetlag. I’ll report later how that went…

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