Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cruising Along....

Lucille and I were recently invited to join a group from the stellar Verbier Festival on board of the ultra-luxurious MSEuropa cruise ship. The cruise went from Dubai to Istanbul, but we had to get off at Sharm-el-Sheik because of prior commitments. It was our first cruise ever. Being extremely prone to sea-sickness I never dreamed to go on a cruise, but this opportunity seemed just too good to pass.
We joined a fantastic team of musicians on board, pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, and his wife Sally Wei, violinist Sayaka Shoji, violist David Aaron Carpenter and cellist Adrian Brendel. Verbier Festival director, Martin Engstroem and his lovely wife, violinist Blythe Teh joined us at the beginning of the cruise. The relationships you can create when stuck in a place for a long time are nothing short of exceptional and we made some wonderful friends.
The ship was fantastic, the sights stunning, but at the end of the day, as it usually happens, it came down to friendship, playing wonderful music together and simply just having a good old time.
For a link to my cruise pictures click here

Monday, May 14, 2012

One of a Kind, and the Right Kind

It’s amazing how one learns on stage. Sometimes, actually most of the times, you learn by mistakes. Something doesn’t work during a concert and you swear not to repeat the mistake again. A few lucky times, you learn from something that goes really well. Something that magically works on the spot and you swear to repeat again at the earliest opportunity. And some other times you have an experience so intense that you need a long time to process all the information you collect during the concert.
I recently had the good fortune to play Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto with the amazing Yuri Temirkanov and his St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra on two different occasions. The first was at the Rostropovich Festival in Moscow and the second in Nizhni Novgorod. From the first phrase I realized that I was in for an inspiring collaboration, of course, but I also knew this was going to be a life lesson. I had constantly the feeling that every phrase, gesture and sound will continue to inspire me for years to come. The flexibility, sound, and sheer beauty of Maestro Temirkanov’s vision and the stunning delivery of every single musician of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic was truly one of a kind, and for this concerto it was beyond any doubt the right kind.
I always said that if I had to put together my dream team for any Rachmaninov concerto it would be Temirkanov and St. Petersburg, but this truly exceeded all my expectations.
I am so excited that I was immediately asked to open Temirkanov’s Arts Square Winter Festival in St. Petersburg this December with Mozart’s KV 491, and can’t wait to hear what these amazing musicians will bring to this fantastic concerto.