If it’s Thursday it must be…

As the CBSO currently undertakes its longest-ever European engagement, Fellowship Conductor Alpesh Chauhan presents the fourth instalment of his tour diary.

Days 7 and 8 – Wednesday/Thursday, March 26th/27th (Hannover and Hamburg).

Wednesday was a much needed free day for the orchestra, a chance for everyone to catch up on some rest and to have a day off working to relax! The free day was spent in Hannover so people went for nice walks, museum visits, shopping trips, games of golf and lots of other things . I spent an hour walking round the Maschsee (lake) which was very relaxing and therapeutic after numerous trips from concert halls to coaches to trains to hotels. A lovely, easy day which then left us with a string of six concerts in a row to finish the tour.

The coach journey from Hannover to Hamburg took a lot longer than expected due to traffic, leaving the orchestra only an hour and a half to relax and get something quick to eat before rehearsal at 5pm. This lasted an hour with the orchestra welcoming back violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter who had played with them on some of the first few concerts while I was still in Birmingham. So, the repertoire was Strauss – Don Juan, Brahms – Violin Concerto and the Prokofiev – Romeo & Juliet (excerpts) once again. The Strauss was also played in the first few days so was a refresher in the rehearsal with the Prokofiev then taking much the same format of quick corners and balance, thumbs up and gestures from the audience to Musical Director Andris Nelsons.

Then came the living legend (especially as a string player) Anne-Sophie Mutter, a world-renowned classical music icon. Having already performed a couple of concerts with her the orchestra was able to do just some moments of Anne-Sophie’s and Andris’ choosing; exposition of first movement, opening few bars of the slow movement and then various corners in the finale. It was a privilege for me to finally see Anne-Sophie after growing up listening to her recordings and she really made an event of the piece.

The concert was in the Hamburg Laeizhalle – a venue of great history and heritage. The acoustic here was my favourite of the four halls I’ve visited on tour so far, giving a lot of resonance while still being bright. While the hall helped create a fuller and more resonant sound, one could still hear the clarity from the orchestra and the balance actually worked very well. It’s extremely interesting to see how much the orchestra is developing with each of the pieces; the Romeo & Juliet was incredibly well done tonight and the orchestra truly sounded amazing and at home in the hall.

Unfortunately, leader Laurence Jackson was ill and wasn’t able to take part, so Associate Leader Zoe Beyers took over and filled the seat at only minutes notice. Under these circumstances – with exposed violin solos in the Prokofiev and Strauss – Andris decided to make sure Zoe covered the solos that she wanted to play at least once during the rehearsal. Come the concert she was fantastic and when Andris got her to stand for the audience’s applause the orchestra gave their full support with applause and foot-stamping!

While the evenings can be a real relaxation after concerts by going for drinks in large groups or just chilling out at hotels, the days are very busy. It’s getting very intense and people are feeling they have been away now for weeks and weeks. With mornings often used for travelling the afternoons provide a good opportunity for people to sleep and catch up on rest as once we start our rehearsals it gets very busy again.

Speaking on travel, tomorrow we have a three and a half hour train journey from Hamburg to Frankfurt where we repeat last night’s programme.