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I recently had the great pleasure of joining the OAE on a little tour to Eisenstadt, Austria, playing a little bit of Schubert and lots of Haydn in the Esterhazy Palace where he worked. It was my first international tour, and my first freelance work with the OAE, having been a member of the Ann and Peter Law Experience Scheme this year.
The venue for today was the Warehouse, and taking the tube to Waterloo provided the welcome opportunity to hum ABBA to myself on the way it-a great start to the day! Our Tutti Strings rehearsal began at the ever so civilised time of 11.30, the poor violinists had been working away in sectionals since 10. Our rehearsal included work on capturing a strong character for each movement, trying to decode the meaning behind Haydn’s movement titles and make Allegro different from Allegro molto and so on. A particular favourite movement for me is the slow movement of Symphony 36, solo violin and cello dialogue is punctuated by tutti strings interjections. The OAE’s very own Dynamic Duo, Maggie Faultless and Luise Buchberger, did a great job, and it’ll be great to hear this movement develop.
The four am alarm was pretty cruel, but before we knew it we were on our way to Austria. The cellos boarded the plane with no extra difficulty today-what a treat! We arrived in Eisenstadt with a little time to rest on our laurels before the first rehearsal. Mercifully I realised that my phone hadn’t managed to go forwards an hour by itself and that 12.15 actually meant 13.15 and that it was time to set off for our 14.00 rehearsal! Scholss Esterhazy is totally stunning, and huge! Luise Buchberger and I found ourselves musing about how they could possibly have used all of the different rooms: Dancing? Painting? Eating? Storage of hunting equipment? Sadly we didn’t find out…maybe next time! Today we met with Thomas Zehetmair for the first time-what a treat to collaborate with such a distinguished artist. His playing had a very infectious, human quality and we all loved (and did our best not to be caught out by) his inventive timings in the Haydn Violin Concerto.
Post-rehearsal we felt like some quality cello section bonding time, so off Luise, Andrew and I went to find good food, and wine. We found it, and all agreed that this is certainly one of the perks of touring! Later in the evening we had the great pleasure of watching Nicolas Alstaedt play Haydn’s D Major cello concerto with the festival’s resident orchestra. After congratulating him in the interval we ended up listening to the rest of the concert from backstage with him. We found that the new textures and ideas that make Haydn’s music so lively are almost better appreciated when you can’t see the performers-you can’t see the players preparing to play, so the new twists and turns really are surprises.
The free morning today gave me the chance to explore Eisenstadt a bit more and I discovered how amazingly proud of Haydn they are here. He’s everywhere! This morning’s port of call was Haydn’s house. There was something quite moving about seeing his signature, and first editions of some of his works.
The day progressed on to our final rehearsal in the magnificent main hall of Scholss Esterhazy. A few teething problems with a lack of suitable chairs and platforms were experienced, but soon everyone was sitting comfortably. The concert was great fun. It felt like a new level of focus and listening was reached, and there was a great sense of experimentation and creativity that came out of this.
Naturally the only possible port of call post concert was the Haydn Brewery, for a large glass (or two) of Haydn beer. Cheers everyone, and thanks for a great trip!
Josh Salter, cello