We have just received this letter from Sergey Ostrovsky, first violin of the Aviv String Quartet, who has been working in Valencia, Spain, with the visiting conductor Riccardo Chailly. ‘I just wanted to share my joy working with this unique musician,’ he says. Here is his report.
During last month Orchestre de la Communidad Valenciana at Palau des les Arts, collaborated with Maestro Chailly both as opera conductor ( La Boheme) , and as a symphonic master (Beethoven’s 9th). I usually never write such a review , especially since I was the concertmaster for the whole period.
But something inside of me is demanding, absolutely demanding, to share my impressions from this month with those of you who care and are still able to feel the difference between ordinary work and creation, between mediocre cynical jokes of orchestra musicians and the fire in their eyes, the difference between the concert where you look at your watch and think, what to cook for lunch tomorrow, or plan the students’ schedule, and the concert, which passes in a moment and you want to stop this moment as one of the most exciting moments of your life….
Very hard to avoid comparisons, and I truly don’t want to under estimate the greatness of the Maestri I was lucky to work with during my 18 years career as a concertmaster. But Maestro Chailly is bringing me to tears every concert, or performance of La Boheme and my colleagues – orchestra musicians from around the globe – they do agree, this happens very very rarely.
Ricardo Chailly arrived in Valencia in mid November and stayed in the city the whole month (unlike many other conductors who fill in their schedules with concerts an rehearsals during the free days, and unlike myself, who had to leave 4 times in between, and I am NOT proud of it).
He rehearsed the Opera with the singers, stage, and than – orchestra, very intense, yet , supportive and patient, but demanding full concentration and flexibility, from all – singers- soloists and orchestra, working on the details, colours, nuances and finally- the structure. Once, as a student, I liked to ask all my teachers-performers- how do the fight the routine and tiredness of playing the same pieces over and over again.
Many gave answers(!) , some didn’t get my question – like Reiner Schmidt, who is never ever bored and even felt insulted, when I asked . Some gave a very popular answers , fitting good on a TV show, ( “… Its like…. To fall in love again at the age of 70…). The best answer for me , came from Valentin Erben , the cellist and a founder of Alban Berg Quartet, ” Working on a details , always getting deeper into the music , and being inspired by the details, nuances , colours… will recharge you and bring life to the piece again”..
So, here, working with Maestro Chailly, I enjoyed so much watching him fully concentrated and inspired by getting the nuances, articulation details, colours, and finally succeeding to build up both, Opera and a Symphony, to a very fine performance, and the level of the alertness, from excellent and motivated musicians of OCV Palau des les arts, was at its highest point.
One would cynically say- ” Oh, he knows both pieces very well and , of course, knows – how to make the orchestra prepared- he had plenty of time..”
Yes, but, not only time and preparation mattered this time.
We see often very experienced conductors , who are working only on their way to shine at the performance, and the rest doesn’t appeal to them.
Ricardo Chailly, his commitment , commitment of a true musician, and full engagement as a professional, till the last minute of the rehearsals, ( and rehearsing before EVERY PERFORMANCE with the soloists of “La Boheme” to make the shaky points more convincing that night) showed us, the younger generation of musicians, the best way to treat the preparation time and always to improve, constantly to grow and to develop.
And now- to show time.
I could never imagine myself enjoying playing opera for so many times in row. Not a great opera fan , I could maybe enjoy once or twice , playing something like “Lulu” of Berg or “Ariadne” of Strauss, but an Italian opera , for already 5 performances, is keeping me on the edge of my chair , and that is, no doubt, the Maestro Chailly impact on me.
And I so often played Beethoven 9th Symphony. Ricardo Chailly , with his dedication to the spirit and an old fashioned Toscanini-like, manner of bringing this work to life- makes the OCV sound at its very best , which is a highest level, those who know the orchestra of Palau des les Arts, will understand… The good news is that we still have one more “Boheme” and one more adventure trip on a well known road with Beethoven and the Greatest Conductor I ever worked with- Maestro Ricardo Chailly… I wish more people from Central and Northern Europe could join us for these moments …
Sergey Ostrovsky, Dec 17,2012.