Musicians all over the world know each other, so it is a happy coincidence that I am able to meet my friend Anne, who I've known since junior high school, on tour with her orchestra. The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Zubin Mehta is playing tonight in the same hall as we did last night. In fact in Madrid this week is a venerable quartet of transplanted Angelenos: Mehta, Placido Domingo, James Conlon and Gustavo Dudamel. Heady company, indeed.
Gustavo leads the LA phil in rehearsal for the single concert in Madrid. After performing Mahler's Ninth Symphony, those on tour enjoyed a much-deserved day off in Spain's capital city.
Anne and I listened to each other´s rehearsals and it was interesting to hear the contrast in orchestras. The Florentines play a lot of opera and there is a noticeable difference in the approach to sound in the strings. An orchestra used to playing four or five hour operas must pace themselves differently than their symphony counterparts who are usually home and in bed before the end of the third act. We have the luxury of playing all out most of the time without the exhaustion factor that opera orchestras must endure.
It was a clear and crisp day and we ran into members of both orchestras in our wanderings. Unfortunately the major museums were closed on Monday, so we opted to make our main destination El Cortes Ingles, a large department store which was touting its January sales. We found great concert wear and scored some excellent deals on Spanish designers.
Lunch was at a tiny taberna called El Mollete. The food was awesome. As you can tell by previous posters, eating is one of the orchestra´s favorite pastimes. Tonight was another fantastic meal at Botin, founded in 1725 and the earliest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. Its specialty is roasted suckling pig. It was delicious.
Tomorrow: onto Cologne and back to work!