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Andrew Sords

Tchaikovsky, or...

August 2, 2009 at 6:12 PM

 After checking my reflection in the bright lights of the dressing room mirror, I retune.  I didn't particularly need to, but I figured I should check the strings before going onstage for 40 minutes.  A-D, D-G, A-E.  Yup, all good.  I start the first movement of the Tchaikovsky, jump to the sixths in the cadenza, begin the third movement, and run through the final scale at half tempo.  I felt good, the instrument sounded good, and I was looking forward to launching into Mr. Tchaikovsky's Opus 35 again.  A knock at the door:  "Five minutes...five minutes.  Overture's almost through."  I follow the portly man to the stage door, and smooth out my sweaty palms on the ebony Klein dress pants.  The familiar feeling of adrenaline started to pulse through me, and I plucked the strings absent-mindedly, hoping the finger slip I had with the concerto in California wouldn't return tonight.  How many times had I played the Tchaikovsky now?  A lot - I had no reason to be nervous...yet, those demons occasionally come back.  A board member approaches me, and gives a little smile.  "We are so excited for tonight!  Isn't the orchestra fun?"  "Yes," I respond politely, "I can't wait to be onstage with them again."  "Well, we can't wait, either," she enthuses.  "Everyone here LOVES the Sibelius concerto."


Excuse me?  Sibelius?  With the tenths and fingered octaves and rapid passagework and I have approximately 3 minutes until I go onstage?  The Sibelius, after I've been working up the Tchaikovsky for the last two weeks?  I would be digging my own grave onstage in front of a thousand people...
That was my nightmare a couple of evenings ago.  It was so vivid, I could feel the backstage adrenaline, sweaty palms, and fear.  I woke up in a cold sweat.  About once or twice a year, I have these nightmares where I'm about to walk onstage and it's a different concerto than the one I'm expecting.  I mean, it could be worse...I could ACTUALLY walk onstage (a la David Oistrakh's famous story), stand there convinced I have three minutes of the Beethoven introduction before my entrance, and realize that the orchestra began the Mendelssohn and I have six beats to be ready.  Sigh.  I've heard many artists have various forms of paranoia - this is mine.
Anyways, summer 2009 is almost over, and I haven't blogged once!  This has been the first summer since I was 12 that I haven't attended or performed at a festival.  It was quite a nice break, and after the past year, I certainly needed to recharge.   I spent a couple of weeks in Canada vegging out, listened to some area students, and this month, I fly to Delaware and California to visit family and friends.  Then, the madness begins in September.  I'm playing the Mendelssohn concerto again for the first time in what feels like decades;  returning to works of Beethoven, Grieg, and Franck for recitals;  rehashing the Beethoven, Bruch, Mozart 5, and Tchaikovsky concerti;  and going to a foreign genre for me - the baroque concerti of Vivaldi and Bach.  I'm looking forward to it.  I may not have the same sentiments come November, but for now, I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine!
Though it has felt like spring in Cleveland since April, today is shaping up to be a pleasant day outside.  I'm thinking the dog park is a must, as well as Starbucks and outdoor reading.  This summer, I've read my standard Follett and Patterson novels, knocked away another Shakespeare, and thoroughly endorse Barbara Walters' autobiography.  Today, I'll probably relax with a People or GQ magazine...I'm in the mood for some shallow reading!
I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer, and looking forward to seeing you at the fall concerts!
Yours from the Midwest (today),


From Terez Mertes
Posted on August 3, 2009 at 1:46 AM

 Oh, this was hilarious to read! : )  And I love, love, love (hearing) the Grieg sonatas - so glad to hear musicians are performing them; wasn't sure if it was a "doesn't get performed often" kind of thing.

Thanks for the update, do share more in the future!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 3, 2009 at 2:53 AM

I agree with Terez.  That was a great read, ad I'd like more from you.

What is the famous story about Oistrakh?

From Jay Azneer
Posted on August 3, 2009 at 4:35 PM

I'm so glad this happens to instrumentalists and not just singers.  I always had a recurrent nightmare of showing up onstage, the orchestra is playing and I can't remember the opening words of my aria.  Whenever I've been onstage and it's actually happened I could always resort to a kind of Chinese to fill in a syllable or two but when it's a warhorse the audience usually knows it better than I do.

From Andrew Sords
Posted on August 3, 2009 at 7:36 PM

David Oistrakh was on tour in Eastern Europe alternating between the Mendelssohn and Beethoven concerti...standing on stage, he nodded to the conductor to begin, and instead of the timpani beats, he hears the familiar e-minor eighth notes, and, flustered, rushed to come in on time.

Once, I was playing a recital, and had no clue that 18 months prior, I had agreed to perform the Recitativo and Scherzo on the program.  My pianist wasn't walking out with me, and, confused, the stagehand showed me the program.  THAT was fun.  :(


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