The hall in Cologne has a lovely acoustic but also the steepest stairs I think I’ve ever seen. That bit of time at the start of a concert before the oboe sounds the A, you know, the bit where you stare at us waiting to start and we stare back at you. It often reminds me of those ridiculous meetings two boxers have on television before a fight, although I assure you, I’m not trying to psyche you out, I’m just trying to spot my mum. Anyway, as I was playing a few notes, I watched a mature member of the audience climbing up the steps towards her seat. To be honest, these steps look almost vertical from the stage, I half expected her to make base camp at row F until the final ascent during the second half, but I’m happy to say she made it to her seat for the start in good time. I expect that she abseiled back down and was first in the car park queue after the show.
It was the final performance of Bruckner 6 for us this evening. I find this the most difficult of his pieces to play personally. The notes themselves aren’t too hard, but there are so many different rhythms going on at once, that it can be tricky to hold onto the pulse. Fortunately in the crystal clear hall, it was very easy to hear all the details and I think this was one of the best shows, and certainly the last. Sir Colin kept the tempo up in the Schubert as well, just when you think it might get a bit cosy, he drives it forward again. Maybe he went to the chocolate factory as well.
As well as being a beautiful city, with its fantastic cathedral and small cobbled streets, there is one other reason I like going to Cologne. The management of the hall have this wonderful tradition of providing the orchestra with free local beer after the show! I think this is a tradition well worth adopting around the globe. I realise that after we bare our souls for you on stage, this might seem a bit shallow – but I can live with that. Its a hot and sweaty business playing in the orchestra, and with my limited language skills, I can only hint at the overwhelming joy of coming off stage, my flute still hot and vibrating , and having a glass of cold beer placed in my other hand.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog. I shall try to write to you soon and let you know how we are getting on in Italy with Daniel Harding in a week or so. After that it will be the enormous Prokofiev cycle, and you can be sure I’ll have something to say about that.
Anyway, got to go now, apparently I’m allowed more than one free beer…