Playing in Aix again was a dream come true! We all have such fond memories of the city after spending so many summers there and being able to take part in a festival as prestigious as this one was fantastic.
A small group of us arrived two days earlier to play a concert in the cathedral of Bach piano concertos with David Fray. It was so nice to play Bach on Easter Sunday in a beautiful cathedral! We then had an amazing dinner of some of the best meat I have ever eaten!! We ended up going back there two nights later again… the boys couldn’t get enough of these steaks!
The main project was with Isabelle Faust directing. She is one of my favourite violinists and it was an honour to sit with her and lead the orchestra for her concertos. She must be one of the most honest, inspiring musicians I have ever worked with and she created one of the nicest atmospheres we have ever worked in.
The programme was Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, followed by a Bach contrapunctus that we played in a string quartet which went straight into the Schumann Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra without break. This is a beautiful piece but not without its challenges having no conductor!
In the second half we played the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Isabelle. This programme for Isabelle was really like an Iron Man race!! The stamina and concentration she has even after a whole day of bus travel was incredible! I can’t even begin to imagine doing something like this...!!
The concert in Aix was really well received and it was amazing to be playing amongst artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Renaud and Gautier Capuçon. Between rehearsals we managed to fit in a bit of shopping in our favourite French boutiques and a few cafe au laits in the early spring sun :)
The second concert was in Dijon, a city I’ve never been to before. We had a tiring day of bus travel to get there so didn’t have a lot of time to look around, but after a sleep in the hotel May and I wandered into town to find something to eat only to find ourselves in the middle of a demonstration. This was pretty scary and we had to run to get out after the riot police came in… so we didn’t get to experience much of what I can only imagine is a beautiful city.
The hall in Dijon had a nice acoustic and despite the tiring day we had a great concert!
This was a project that was incredibly musically rewarding for me and one I will remember for a long time. And I really hope we are back in Aix-en-Provence sometime in the near future!
Photos: Geoffroy Schied