alban gerhardt tackles 10 questions

once again, the oregon symphony is flying in a world-renowned classical rockstar to jam with the band tomorrow night in salem and this saturday, sunday, and monday at the schnitz.  once again, the classical beaver is all up in their grill picking their brains.  ladies and gentlemen: *mr. alban gerhardt

alban, you’ll be playing prokofiev’s symphony-concerto with our band ~ how would you describe this music?

It is definitely rather easy-listening; unlike his concerto on which the Cello Symphony is based upon, this is very accessible, emotional, and brilliant music. Although it is a rather long concerto, it feels short as there are many different characters and emotions happening.  It’s definitely one of the most spectacular concertos for any instrument.

“easy listening”?!  are we talking about the same piece?  oh well.  um, dvořák’s “new world” symphony is also on the program ~ what do you think of pairing uncle antonín’s magnum opus with the prokofiev?

I don’t care – by then I will be already getting drunk 🙂  No, seriously, it’s a great coupling and Carlos’ programming has always been intelligent and tasteful.  Both pieces are monumental while highly sensitive and refined, with gorgeous melodies… music straight for the heart.

sooo… skip the dvořák and meet you at higgins… got it.  i read in your blog you enjoyed the dunes and forests of oregon during a previous visit.  any plans to explore the beaver state while you’re here this time?

No, unfortunately not this time around – last time was during my son’s summer holidays, so I enjoyed traveling in this absolutely gorgeous state of yours.

shucks… well, hopefully next visit.  hey, what’s so great about hearing classical music live?

For a couple of years I stopped listening to classical music on recordings, because I strongly believe that its real magic happens only in live performances.  Why?  Good question!  I think in a really great performance, the aura of the performer mixes with all the auras of the audience members, so we get this incredible feeling of togetherness which we won’t have in our living room with a pair of speakers, even though the sound and balance might be better than in an actual concert hall.  The real drama of life is coming out only in live performances, and especially with newer music it is essential to see it being created… the sweat, the labour… when musicians put their lives on the line.

what a response – thanks!  really looking forward to mixing auras monday night.  so, does playing chamber music or playing with an orchestra make you more nervous?

I only get nervous if I am ill prepared (or if too many colleagues or family are listening).  For me it is the same excitement playing chamber music or solo concerti.  In the end it is all music.

you’ve often performed chamber music with steven osborne, who just left town after totally killing the britten piano concerto.  what do you enjoy about working with him?

Oh, Steven is just a great friend, one of the few people I have already invited to my wedding next March.  So playing with him is always a great excuse to meet a very good friend, besides him being a very thinking and analyzing player who in the past few years found his emotional side; I love how he combines his brains with his guts 🙂

amen, brother!  let me buy you a drink… name your poison:

Oh, that depends very much on my mood.  Sometimes after a concert, I just like a nice local beer.  For dinner I prefer mostly red wine, and normally I never go to bars, but if I do?  To tell you the truth, I don’t know shit about drinks, but during my two weeks in Brazil I pretty much fell in love with Caipirinhas with not too much sugar, even though this is such a lame one to love, I know…

i betcha our assistant principal cellist would disagree about its lameness.  hey, let’s say i have 48 hours in berlin… what should i do?

Oops, I am the wrong guy to ask, I don’t know Berlin very well, even though I was born here and live here.  When I am travelling as much as I am, I am happy to be home.  You should definitely go grab a concert with the Berliner Philharmonie, take an inner city boat ride on the river Spree, visit the government district, and most definitely Museum Island in Berlin Mitte.  There are many great museums in Berlin, but there you have three on one tiny little island in the center of Berlin, rather conveniently located.  I have been told Berlin is a great party town, but I was never into that, so I wouldn’t know.  My niece just told me to check out *the Schlot, where they have nice drinks and live bands, very low-key, hip, but fun.  Berlin is a great town to live, because it offers everything at a rather low price, it’s not too crowded, traffic ain’t bad, public transportation is great… in Germany, Berlin is by far the best city, I think.

whoa, i just google translated schlot’s website and their sunday brunches in december are themed: Big Balls, Merry Christmas – In Color and 3D.  we’ve only just met and you already know me so well… thanks for the travel tip!  what non-classical music do you dig?

Jazz.

okay, one-word answers are a clear sign of fatigue, so a final question: what are your expectations for playing with maestro carlos and the band?

I think Carlos Kalmar is one of today’s great conductors, who isn’t more famous because he doesn’t play the game.  He is himself and music is the most important thing for him.  He has formed the Oregon Symphony in the past few years into one of the top 15 orchestras in the U.S., which is an amazing achievement.  I expect three fabulous performances of a work which is really not easy to pull off for the orchestra.  I have been often disappointed by orchestras playing that piece, they often take it too easy, but with Carlos and his band I know it will be top-class!

top-class, indeed!  mr. gerhardt, thank you so much for the terrific responses… really, really, really looking forward to hearing you and your cello.  auf wiedersehen!

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