I am having to type this very quietly as we are on a bus, again, traveling from Turin back to Milan. All of the concerts on this Italian tour start at 9pm. Well actually they start around 9.15 as most of the audiences wander in gradually from the foyer roughly around the start time, it seems to be more of a suggestion than a deadline. Of course, most of our concerts in London begin at 7.30 and end between 9.30 and 10pm, whereas on this tour, we have been lucky to get off stage before 11.30. Last night, Vadim Repin did two encores and then we played a bit of Romeo and Juliet at the end of the second half as well, making a very late finish. Most people will then have a drink or something to eat after the show, I tried both quite successfully and managed to get to bed around 2am. Unfortunately, these late finishes don’t always mean a late start the next morning and so the bus is fairly quiet apart from the quiet murmur of chatter from some of the younger, more energetic players near the front, the faint hiss of headphones, pages being turned in a novel and a crossword still being worked out on last weekends yellowing paper which now crackles with age like a log fire. The views from the window are quite beautiful, it is a clear blue sky and in the distance, burnt red roofs shine out like airport landing lights against the mountains, many of which are covered with snow. But today, we are all tired, and the views will have to wait for another time.
When we spoke last, Sir Colin was conducting, yesterday, Valery Gergiev arrived to continue the Prokofiev cycle we are taking around the world. In some ways I would love to have been a member of the audience over the last two days to hear the difference in sound these two great men get from the same orchestra. The volume change between RVW and Prokofiev is of course huge, with many extra players flying out for the next set of concerts. From the audience I’m sure it looks like Colin smiles and coaxes sound from the orchestra whereas Valery crouches and whips sound out of the depths. But from where I sit, when they ask us for something and get it immediately in a show, they both have the same smile in their eyes, they are having fun, we are too and the performance takes off.
Last night we played Prokofiev 7, one of my favourites. We have played it probably more than any of the others with Valery and yet we have never given the same performance twice. Last night he played it slightly quicker than in the past, you could sense the excitement in the hall as the last movement drove to its conclusion. Valery knows how to create an exciting performance more than most.
We played an encore, the Death of Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet. Such was the excitement in the audience, that when we reached the famous 15 repeated death chords, at least half the audience started cheering and clapping after the first one! We paused briefly and then played the other 14 by which time Tybalt was well and truly on the other side. Normally, Valery looks pretty serious through this climactic moment of the ballet, but even he had a grin on his face for the rest of the piece!
So on reflection, when I said I would have liked to have sat in the audience, sorry, I’ve changed my mind. I have the best seat in the house, you’ll have to drag me out of it because it is a very exciting ride at the moment, and I don’t want to get off.
Milan tonight, then Rimini and home. The hotel in Rimini is on the beach, I gather fog is predicted though. Thats Prokofiev for you.