Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it's Russian Christmas today, and I'm on my way back to Liverpool… It’s been a very hectic and busy time in November-December! I couldn’t find a time to write something! Actually, this period is the most intensive in cultural life – everyone try to escape late autumn-winter depression by attending cultural events…or go for crazy shopping (well, probably not this year).
Since middle of November and concerts in Liverpool and snowy Newcastle I’ve been in Spain with their National Orchestra, where some of you traveled to enjoy paella, Rioja, tortillas and a bit of culture ;) This week been highly successful, Orchestra would like to have me for quite a few concerts in forthcoming seasons (time is my worse enemy!), and I had a lot of pleasure from playing Prokofiev and unknown Rodrigo – do you know his music apart from guitar concerto? It’s beautiful, especially with Spanish singer! And all his sons and grandsons and relatives and friends and admirers had been there – my dressing room was definitely too small for it…
Week after I’ve conducted in Stuttgart, heart of Baden-W├╝rttemberg. It’s something special in German cities around Christmas with their Weihnachts-Markets, smell of marzipans and illumination, and in South Germany it’s even more characteristic! Funny enough, I did there the same Romeo and Juliette as in Spain, but it’s been a little big difficult to move this orchestra to my vision of the piece, so, quite a tough week. But the soloist, Sol Gabetta played absolutely superb, and I’ll try to bring her to Liverpool at some point!
Than, after one-night-stop in St.Petersburg (Hello, Dad! – Goodbye…) I flu far east to Novosibirsk. If you ever been in flight from Europe to Japan, you probably noticed size of Siberia – you become drunk, have a diner and a good sleep in-flight, awaken and still flying over the same taiga! But if you’ll go down and visit some cities there you’ll have a real experience J Novosibirsk is big city with huge cultural tradition, many people from Leningrad (and famous Leningrad Philharmonic) has been there in evacuation during 2nd World War, and plenty of them settled there. It’s also famous by violin school with Zahar Bron as a great teacher and Academic-City, place about 20 miles from Novosibirsk with high concentration of scientists, universities and laboratories, very clean and very intellectual. Orchestra is very good with a long tradition, and they’ve started to built a new concert hall for them, which they really needed. Audience gave very warm applauses for a light program (J.Strauss, Ravel and Tchaikovsky), and I’ve enjoyed a bit of true winter – temperature varied between 14 and 25 below zero on this week.
After it, finally, first time since July, I had 5 days off! And in my hometown! Of course, a lot of meetings with friends, visits etc, but surprisingly calm celebration of New Year with family. And at the beginning of the 2009 (yesterday!) was a concert with St.Petersburg Phil. It’s always a pleasure to play in such a beautiful and historical hall, especially when it’s absolutely full! Even if program (Shostakovich 15th Symphony) was far from Christmas-type, and very serious, concert had a great response. Funny enough, stage workers forgot to fixed a wheels of piano, and Simon Trpcheski after playing 1st movement of Ravel concerto, stood up and turned screws by himself!
Being in Russia after half-a-year abroad I’ve noticed, that propaganda from both sides getting much stronger – western countries try to show Russia as a “new evil power”, “big, dangerous and ambitious bear”, while Kremlin give a message of “enemies around” and “economic in ruins everywhere else” for internal media. As a result, people in Russia sure, that war in Georgia was a deliberation and salvation of people there, and west-Europeans think, that it’s been a clear aggression. The same story now about gas and Ukraine. As usual, the truth is somewhere else (I personally think, that truth is in personal financial interests), but people, who’ve been like brothers for centuries are separated now… What do you think?