For the 9th time in a row, MCO is residing in Lucerne during almost the entire month of August.
For me it is the 8th time, since I missed the summer of 2003. That summer I was with my string quartet in Australia, participating in the 4th Melbourne International Chamber music Competition. It was actually there, that summer in Melbourne, that I met Grisha (our concertmaster) for the first time, since he was at the same competition with his piano trio. I could never have foreseen he would become the concertmaster of MCO, some years later. I find it wonderful to see how our lives unfold and how some people we meet come back to our life later. :)
I can not remember well on which violin Grisha was playing that summer, but I guess it was the same one which he had been playing on until this tour in Lucerne. It was definitely not the violin I remember, but his music making. Ever since he has been leading our orchestra, it has felt strange for me that all of us in the group played on better instruments then him. I remember once a project where I asked him what kind of bow he played on. He answered that he simply bought the bow via Ebay. It must have been very funny to see my face at that moment, lost in total amazement. It deeeeeeply impressed me, how you can play so beautifully with a bow from Ebay and an ordinary violin, and make such a career! His musicianship, his natural persuasiveness and inner musical conviction are apparently so strong, that it surpasses the weakness of his equipment. However, I am sure that despite these extraordinary capacities, everyone in MCO is very happy that, thanks to the MCO Foundation, finally a high class instrument is provided to him: a Stradivarius.
The difference is immediately audible. In the end of the Lohengrin Introduction which we are playing in LFO, there are a few solos for the first stand. In the first few days, where Grisha still played on his old violin, you could hear him, but the sounds was not radiating. After he picked up the Strad in Berlin, and played on his new violin, the notes he played drew your attention, the chord immediately got a more glistening sound and was better balanced.
On August 11, the Strad was presented to the public. At 10 o’clock in the morning, after a Brahms/Wagner/Mahler concert the night before and in the midst of our rehearsals for the MCO concert with Vladimir Jurowski, Grisha gave us a first acquaintance with the instrument. He asked a few MCO musicians to accompany him; we played the meditation from Souvenir d’un lieu cher by Tchaikovsky. I’m very happy, for Grisha, but also for MCO, because it will make a huge difference for the sound of the orchestra.
I would like to mention also a few words about Vladimir Jurowski. It is always special to be present when a conductor comes for the first time, an exciting getting-to-know each other, on many levels. So was the first contact with him too. Making music is so intimate.
We played Henze's 8th Symphony, and Mendelssohn's Midsummernight's Dream. Jurowski looked to me like he just stepped out of Shakespeare’s play, his way of moving, and his whole presence was like you imagine a handsome prince in a fairy tale, conquering all kinds of challenges with his good heart and magical capacities. His way of rehearsing was very impressive. All instrument groups were fine-tuned, it was musically absolutely delicious to experience. There was no moment in the rehearsal where I had a chance to dream away, because he made sure that I understood that these bars he rehearsed with the trombones and the vibraphone were of major importance to understand how to play myself. This way of rehearsing is like being in a chocolate shop where you are offered to taste all the different chocolates you like. Mmm, I hope he will return soon.
The concert is one I will not easily forget, when a conductor makes you play something very difficult with enormous ease he is certainly a master.