We’re currently in Paris and I think the orchestra breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of two nights in the same hotel, whoopie! We are ensconced in the Mercure hotel opposite Gare du Nord, which in my time in the LSO has thankfully undergone a transformation from chintzy Laura Ashley rabbit warren to masculine brown leather rabbit warren. I was hugely relieved to leave the Mercure in Freiberg as apart from the 70s time-warp carpet, I had unluckily gotten a smoking room. I probably should have changed room as on waking the next morning I felt like I had smoked and bathed in a carton of Marlboros.
Since I had a chance to root through the suitcase properly this weekend, I looked out of interest to see what kind of home comforts, if any, I had packed. iPad, iPod and little cube speaker – pretty much a necessity as I make it a rule to not watch TV on tour – Glamour magazine – well I’ve got to keep up don’t I? Various “healthy” snacks (don’t tell my husband), ear plugs, an eye mask and the ever-present medicine kit which I should really check, as chances are the Imodium expired in 2009.
Looking through my case made me wonder what sort of items my colleagues pack. It’s always interesting what counts as indispensable to some and a luxury to others. I know some people bring their own dressing gowns/slippers/pillows/kettles. A male member of the admin, who shall remain nameless, packs a huge hairdryer (although I don’t blame him, often hotel hair dryers are no more effective than someone lightly breathing on your head). I used to bring a silk sleeping bag when I developed a nasty allergy to some hotel bedding in New York and ended up looking like Freddie Kruger’s sister with serious acne issues. In the violins I’m sure our co-leader and self-confessed techie Carmine must have five laptops, three tablets and miles of charging cables in his case; Laurent, a Michelin-starred guide to eating in every city; Ginette, current and back-issues of Vogue. Miya has admitted in the past to having bags and bags of “Mr Potato Heads” in her case. You now know who to go to when you need a snack!
I definitely think Ian Rhodes must have a magazine like Racing Weekly or a direct portal to the bookies in his suitcase, as he is always ready with a top tip. In fact he encourages the gamblers in us by arranging orchestral sweepstakes during big sporting events. I’ve always participated, despite drawing England in the World Cup a few years ago and thinking I’d have done better to flush my £10 down the toilet. It was the Grand National yesterday and in Germany he set about extracting €10 off as many mugs like me as possible and we drew names of the horses. Mine was 20-1 so I didn’t think about it until yesterday when, during the rehearsal in Paris, a harried whisper went through the section. Turns out my desk partner Lennie (and Ian’s best friend, hmm…) had won, my horse had come in second and Roman’s third. It looked very much like a front two desk 1st violin stitch up. I have nothing to say except… the best people won, haha! Let’s hope our winning streak is in evidence when we are on our USA tour next year and pass through Vegas baby!
It’s been quite a tour of contrasts musically. We couple staples of the piano repertoire Chopin and Liszt concertos with the previously unknown to us Scriabin symphonies. The pianists themselves are in complete contrast. Daniil Trifonov is a slight young man, quiet in manner with the most sublimely beautiful touch to his playing. Denis Matsuev, who would give the jolly green giant a run for his money in stature, is all confident virtuosic bravura. They have both treated us to some staggeringly amazing encores on this tour. Last night Daniil, rather than going off for a well-earned drink post performance, tweeted this picture as he sat with violinist Leonidas Kavakos to hear Scriabin for the second half of the concert in Paris.
Tomorrow morning we don’t head over to the Eurostar terminal as our feet are so programmed to do. Instead we fly out of Paris and end our tour in Milan and Turin. I’m meeting a very glamorous fashion designer on landing in Milan tomorrow, so tonight I will be extracting the one luxury item from my suitcase – a Korean face mask purchased on the last tour to make me look ten years younger in twenty minutes. I should be so lucky.