Friday, July 23, 2010

It's been a while: a mid-summer night's story

It's been a while since my last post. It's about 1230am now, but summer is going by so fast that I suddenly felt the need to jot the first part of it down.
This is a wonderfully hectic summer. Six festivals, a Rachmaninov Solo CD for Signum, a three-week long tour of Japan, a couple of recitals and a concerto performance are just the musical part of this crazy summer. Lucille and I also sold our condo in New York last month and just moved to a brand new one fives blocks away. Two separate trips to Asia and two to Europe are somehow providing me with lots of hours of much needed mental rest on the plane. As it happens,  I had to fly from Wales to NYC for two nights to close on our sale and move all our belongings (including two pianos!) to storage, then went on to my Japan tour and three weeks later started rehearsals in Fort Worth. Lucille managed among many difficulties, and performances (including a Mozart recording for Universal) to close on our purchase of the new condo AND move in during her two day stay in New York. She then joined me to the Mimir Chamber Festival in Fort Worth. We just got back to NYC and are unpacking. It's really exciting. I am looking forward to lots of dinner parties.

I was really happy to be back at beautiful Schloss Elmau, in Bavaria for the second time.  It is really heaven on earth! This time I put together  three concerts with Lucille, and my friends (and amazing musicians) Nicolas Alstaedt and Joseph Lin. We really had a great time playing wonderful music, enjoying the spectacular surroundings and taking full advantage of the most beautiful spa I have ever seen. Highly recommended!

I am really excited also about the new Rachmaninov recording for Signum Records. We chose the beautiful facilities at Wyastone, in Wales, for this project, and I couldn't have been happier. My producer Anna Barry and Mike Hatch were their amazing selves. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them on my last three recordings, starting with Warner Classics' Baroque Reflections. It went so well that we finished the recording early. I can't wait to hear the final edit, and for the  recording to be out next year! It will feature the complete preludes op. 23, quite a few transcriptions (including my own version of Vocalise), and a rarity: some charming student works by Rachmaninov.

I then moved out of our old place and  I got ready for the long tour in Japan with violinist Sayako Kusaka, an old friend from my SMU, who is now concertmaster of the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra.  We played three programs, including my first ever Franck Sonata (!) among other things. But the highlight of the tour for me was performing  Busoni's amazing Second Violin Sonata. It is such a special, unique and powerful work, and it was a pleasure to perform it in such great concert halls and on great pianos with her.
I thing I have probably been to Japan about 15-20 times, but this summer I finally had time to visit Tsukiji, Tokyo's famous fish market for the first time. Our tour manager picked us up at 330am to be in line for the tuna auction at 4. It was really an amazing experience. Of course the 6am  sushi omakase at the market was the best part! I also had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Nara, Japan's oldest, and to meet a lot of warm people all over Japan. All in all it was a great trip, and a very unusual one, since  I had a bit of free time and met with a few friends while in Tokyo! I have to confess that Tokyo has become over the years one of my favorite destinations. I can't wait to go back!

A yearly summer appointment, the Mimir Festival in Fort Worth, followed Japan right away. This was a fun year, as I was playing two amazing works. Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (it was my first performance ever!) and Korngold's Suite for two violins, cello and piano left hand alone! Mimir is always a lot of fun, and after about ten years, I feel like I know a lot of the audience, and that we are all a big family. 

Now, I am back in NYC, in my beautiful new home, and with Lucille. Off to Westport, CT, for a four hand concert with Lucille on July 24th , then back home and off to Menlo for my debut at the wonderful Music@Menlo Festival. At that point, musically, I will only be half way through my summer. It's going to be a long and wonderful one!