Tuesday, 30 September 2008


It’s Sunday and I’m going down to London – so, plenty of time to write something!

Last two weeks have been very intensive, recordings, concerts in Liverpool, Zaragoza, Prague and St.Asaph, interviews (as usual, the media suddenly remember about you before first night of the season and than forget again) and meetings, meetings…
Always quite tricky to “wake up” orchestra after vacation, especially if you are recording and every minute is extremely valuable, but in the first days of September we managed to make a very good recording (I hope!) and even finished half-an-hour early - which, of course, got a lot of appreciation from members of orchestra ;)
Then it’s been “The special opening of the season” at the Phil and I’m glad that inspiration and emotions had been with us on stage on this night. I found on the first day of rehearsals, that the music of Prokofiev, his style and philosophy were not too familiar for the orchestra, perhaps because this symphony hasn’t been played for quite a few years (surely it deserves more often performing!).
But on the second day something in the minds of musicians started to move in the right direction and for the concert everyone was fired up! Paul Lewis played great (as usual!) and the piece by Ken Hesketh. Graven Image, sounded to me better than when we played it in the Albert Hall at the Proms because of the acoustic.
Prague… I love this city! Even in its current condition, when quite a lot of facades need reconstruction, and from another side a lot of ugly modern buildings been established in the last few years, this city definitely has a spirit (don’t mix it with Becherovka or Pilsner! J) and a charm. The weather was very cold, but I walked quite a lot and, as usual in Vyshehrad, tried to imagine the life of the people there centuries ago. Our concerts had a great response. There’s a good tradition for Liverpudlians to travel to RLPO concerts in other cities, so we felt a great support! Even in the very tricky acoustic of Dvorak Hall and a complicated travel schedule, the quality of the concerts has been extremely high. And for me it’s been a very rare opportunity to watch the orchestra from the side, in one of their other concerts – a lot of interesting moments to discover!

Yesterday, I was absolutely charmed by St. Asaph – glorious weather, beautiful hills, river, tidy village… I’d love to live there if it would be 10 miles from Liverpool J And they run a quite decent music festival, which we opened and BBC NOW will play the final concert at the end of next week. Even if the Cathedral is a bit too small for Tchaikovsky (after the concert I heard the chat “Fantastic!” - “Great! But it’ll ring in my ears for the next two weeks!”), the enthusiasm of the audience, they were eager for music created a very special atmosphere.

And, finally, today, it was Open Day at the Phil (lucky orchestra, due to working restrictions got a free day and enjoyed the sunshine in their homes!), where I did open an rehearsal with the Phil Choir and had my picture taken with different people at the Hope Street Feast! I enjoy this festival every year because of the special atmosphere, the opportunity to invite new listeners to the Phil and the great farmers’ market - you can buy great food there… and I think now is to good time for ale and pastries which I’ve got there!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Back to the UK

Back in the sky – time to write. Last two weeks been quite busy, but spending them in Spain I felt “this is vacations now!!!”

La Coruna and Galicia were very hospitable as usual (even if in front of hotel where I stayed, were a lot of roadworks, and, surprisingly, at the week-ends!), seafood is amazing, wine is wine, sun is sun and Atlantic… it’s absolutely fabulous there, especially at sunset! I’ve been amongst the very few persons who did swim in the sea – water temperature of 18 degrees is not for Spaniards, I think))) And when quite strong waves produced a red flag on the beach, lifeguards tried to “rescue” me from the water, but after my few words in Russian just wave their hands!

Soloists in this production of Macbeth have been just great! Maria Guleghina and Jelko Lucic as the main heroes were brilliant, and it’s been a pleasure to work with them. Orchestra of Castilla y Leon also made a decent job, and at the end got a big ovation with my bow. Even though there were some musical challenges for the local amateur choir (I would call them “coro amistoso”);), critics hailed this production enormously with “fantastico y fenomenal” reviews. For me important side of these performances is that Verdi’s style was clearly there, and that’s not often happening!

Straight after that and a day of rehearsals in Valladolid (hometown of Orchestra Castilla y Leon), there was a concert yesterday with Paul Lewis in Barcelona. Chief editor of cultural part of “Lavanguardia”, leading catalan newspaper, after a few glasses of prosecco, promised me a great article on Saturday. Will see)).
Always amazed how different is Spain! Very smooth and humid climate in La Coruna (looks a little bit like if you moved Liverpool a few thousands kilometres south – rain almost everyday, high tides, very humid, but warmer, +21-26 in a daytime), very dry and sunny in Valladolid with a huge difference of temperatures for day and night, and warm and “oily” air of Barcelona… And a concert in the beautiful hall of Zaragoza will take place on Monday.

Nevertheless, it’s back to UK now, and this Spanish “feel of vacation, even if you work everyday” is almost disappearing. It’s still a little bit of a mystery for me, why Brits are using and spending so much energy in their lives? It seems to me, that a lot of questions and processes, which can be automatically resolved, steal a lot of time and attention in British society. What do you think?