I received a phone call today that the piano for the third performance of Lowell Liebermann’s Third Piano Concerto was not quite on the level they thought I would expect. The middle pedal was not working either–well, I only use that one once in the concerto, so it is ok. They also expect only 60 people to attend–that means more people on stage than in the Stadtheater in Heide, Germany. Did I want to cancel out and the orchestra play something else? I said I was paid already to play all five concerts–but the option was mine.
My choice: bum out and hang out doing nothing, or face the challenge and meet my ‘blind date’ piano. Not just because I am paid to do so, I think it is exciting to see just what the piano is all about. I said, ‘I will go and play–you know me well enough that I can say with all humility–I can try to make any piano sound good! That’s what my teacher taught us. That’s my job.” Not to mention the fact that if I bummed out, that’s what they would remember more than the other four performances–and that lessens your chances to get re-engaged! Maestro Gerard Oskamp is one of the kindest and finest conductors I have met–he has brought me to Flensburg to his Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra three times in less than four years–that’s quite hospitable! We’ve done Saint-Saens 2 and Liszt 1 in the first visit (yes, both in each concert!!!!), then Grieg in the second visit, and then he agreed to bring the orchestra into the Liebermann global project as one of the 18 co-commissioning orchestras. It’s the official European premiere. Too bad this is his last season–I only hope the orchestra and new music director will remember me. No–I wasn’t about to stay at the hotel and forego the concert.
After getting lost a few times, I spotted the Stadtheater sign and the taxi driver let me out. I went into the hall, a tender and charming hall, and found the Steinway “C”. Well, never agree with anyone until you see for yourself. OK–the middle pedal doesn’t work and the sound is occasionally thin, but I know exactly what to do. After a short meeting with the piano, I found the soft spots and made it sing. It’s a finer piano than I had anticipated. And–I walked around the entire little town in the brisk cold–it is absolutely charming–I loved it. I am now sitting in the Heide Hof restaurant–the young chef had a nice but not overbearing buffet–excellent food! And now I get to play the concert shortly. See what I would have missed if I said ‘no?’