Just back from my London trip, enjoying a jet-lagged and cloudless day. Everybody I met in London apologized for the gray weather there, though I don’t think any of them were at fault. I didn’t mind, even though I failed to find a proper mackintosh. Today is devoted to those post-travel chores which seem extremely necessary; delivering dry cleaning, facing the ball of black once-lettuce in the fridge.
Can anyone explain the following phenomenon: Until this morning, I hadn’t touched a piano since playing the final note of my Wigmore show last Friday, and now I sound fantastic. I just ran through Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe, a perennial favorite, and I think it may have been the best I’ve ever played it in my life. Now, I am sure that this is really not the case; it must be some sort of aural/perceptual illusion at work. But even so, I had some quite real interpretational ideas about the piece, new details I hadn’t uncovered in the last 12 or so years I’ve played it. I suppose I’ve just proved true the pedestrian advice that taking a break is sometimes helpful. But I wonder how many professional musicians make a point to take time off their instruments. Most of the ones I know seem too neurotic by half.
Lots of people told me that (the) Wigmore Hall (it’s got a parenthetical pronoun like [le] Poisson Rouge) is a fantastic place to play, and I’m happy to report that it is. The experience is very old-world; there is nothing superfluous. The hall is ornamented but not overbearingly so, and the stage is just about the perfect size for a concert grand and a body. The acoustic is perfect, which is to say you don’t notice it; the piano just sounds like the best possible version of itself. There was a nice-sized crowd of what looked to be mostly young people; apparently I scared most of the gray-haired ladies off (I love you too, gray-haired ladies! You’ll come around eventually). There are different ratios for things in London; for instance, I think Wigmore must have the largest for size-of-green room to size-of-hall. My hotel also had the largest size-of-shower-head to size-of-bathroom ratio of all time. I’d say about 20% of the bathroom was shower-head. Wigmore Hall also has a dreadfully polite coughing policy which, as far as I could tell, appears to work quite well.
Tried many interesting foodstuffs. Did not try the Brown Sauce. I’d say that I prefer Eccles cake over Eton mess, and kedgeree over everything. For a proper take on kedgeree, watch this video, then commit it to memory.