If you have been reading this blog since 2008 you may recall one of my postcards from our last Japanese tour which was in awe of the ability of the management out here of locating lost property including clothing, used train tickets and small change. Some of it had even been thrown away in the bin and resurrected by a well meaning cleaner! I mentioned a few days ago that I had lost my iPhone somewhere in Japan. It could have been on one of 4 buses, 2 trains, a concert hall and surroundings or a meeting room, or one of 2 restaurants. Despite my faith in their astonishing skills, I had cancelled my phone and was waiting to replace it when I returned home later in the week. I knew that I would never see it again.
Now I know it isn’t a a good thing to get attached to inanimate objects, but when you are a long way from home, the humble mobile phone has enormous importance, at times it is the only thing which keeps you in contact with family. Ten years ago, speaking to the family from the far east involved joining a queue for the pay phones in the foyer at 2am and watching the speed at which it ate phone cards with terror. Nowadays a text to your son to say something as mundane as ‘have a good day at school’, or ‘enjoy the snow’ is a precious gift indeed. This week it hit home more than normal as I was away from home, for the second time in three years, for the birthdays of my two boys. Despite being born two years apart, they share the same birthday, and yes, I have heard all of the jokes…
It’s not easy being away at times like this and despite having a wonderful time, I would love to be at home in the snow to watch them open their presents, however we have the final concert of the tour and fortunately it’s a nice cheery piece to keep my mind off home, Mahler 9.
This immense symphony is tricky. I enjoy the way Valery does the first movement in particular, it has always seemed the most forward thinking of his orchestral works and there are moments such as the trio between flute, violin and horn near the end of the movement which sound positively contemporary in Gergiev’s hands. His attention to detail and colour in rehearsal pay dividends in the concert with the often angular shapes of the melody ringing out in the sumptuous acoustic of Suntory Hall. We had been asked to reign in the dynamics in the Rondo-Burlesque movement as he didn’t want it to sound aggressive, and quite frankly in this hall that is quite easy! I was quite enjoying myself at the end of a really enjoyable trip.
And then we come to the last movement. I don’t have that much to do except sit and listen to the remarkable sound made by my colleagues in the string section and every now and again pick out a pianissimo somewhere up in the stratosphere. The sound on the stage is immense and heartbreaking, this is a difficult piece at the best of times, but as the violas spell out the fragmented melody for the final time and the hall doesn’t breathe for the longest I have ever heard an audience remain silent, I know it is time to go home to my family.
Coming off the stage you can see that everyone feels the same. Emotions play a huge part in our performance and to ask the players to deliver stuff like this on a daily basis so far away from home is a massive effort both physically and mentally. The band look spent and put instruments away in boxes for the trip home.
Mario approaches. He holds up my iPhone. Kajimoto management have spent the last four days tracking it down and finally found it on a train to Niigata. Amazing really and something that only could happen in this fantastic country. It isn’t until I get back to my room that I realise that not only have they manage to track down and return it, they’ve charged it up too.
Thanks for listening