This is actually Day 2 of the trip for me because I groggily discovered myself in London on the morning of October 30 after a redeye flight. After I did nothing that first day other than wandering the city searching for (and finding!) an extra violin for Bartok Contrasts, the group convened yesterday at London Heathrow airport for the flight to Rome followed by the 2-hour car ride to Perugia. This group already performed a few very happy concerts together in the U.S. in May, so everybody was happy to reconnect. I was astonished to confirm that every romantic rumor I heard about our cellist Christian Poltera was true! Usually there is some inaccuracy or exaggeration. He said I knew so much about his life that he should ask me about what he just did. We can thank Facebook for all of this important knowledge that I acquired.
BB Trust tours begin and end with one person: Susan Rivers. She is our mother hen whom we follow mindlessly at all moments. It is wonderful for all of us not to have to think after we are so accustomed to retrieving our own e-tickets, finding the appropriate gate, locating ground transportation upon arrival… train times, hotel, directions to the hall, restaurants, you name it – it is accounted for. Itineraries are sent months ahead of time detailing each minute of the day, making our lives absurdly easy. Susan, I am disappointed that I have to actually brush my own teeth and wash my own hair. Maybe you can arrange that for the next tour?
At the airport our musical fairy godmother Mitsuko Uchida was running at merely 90 mph instead of her usual dangerously exciting 110. She claimed it was because of all of the music she played in Berlin the previous week, but I knew it was because she wasn’t popping chocolate truffles into her mouth every five minutes as she usually does. Everything was back to normal this morning at Messiaen rehearsal – our dressing rooms were stocked with dark, darker, and yet darker chocolate. I drink coffee before concerts to keep me going; Mitsuko eats chocolate. “Before, at intermission, and afterwards!”
Two years ago Christian and I did another BB Trust tour with violinist Christian Tetzlaff. Christian T. and I quickly discovered that we may have met our competitive match in one another. Competitive with what, you may ask? EVERYTHING. On that tour it was mostly with card games, games that lasted all night long despite performing in six cities (Aldeburgh, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Vienna) in six days, a typically manic Tetzlaff schedule. We played (cards) in houses, planes, trains, airport cafes, and hotel room floors across the EU. We played in the dressing rooms of Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Concertgebouw, and the Konzerthaus. One disturbing car ride we discovered that we had lost our deck of cards. So Christian T. taught us a simple numbers game called Jewish Poker (I have since renamed it Korean Poker because I so dominated him). In this Whatever-Ethnicity-You-Want-To-Name-It poker, the two combatants simultaneously say a number from 0 to 10. The higher number wins unless there is a difference greater than 2 between the numbers, in which case the lower number wins. So on the ride yesterday from Rome to Perugia, Christian P. and I challenged Christian T. to a round of phone-texting Korean Poker. We simultaneously texted each other our numbers: ours was a 3 and his was a 7, meaning that we won. We gloated in our subsequent message. But then came his reply:
“No, you forgot about the 10 rule – I win.”
“What 10 rule?”
“I added the 10 rule six months ago. If the two numbers add up to 10 then the
higher number wins.”
Christian T. beat me and claimed this title: Cheater Most Desperate To Win.
Mitsuko Uchida at “only” 90 mph
Teatro Morlacchi, Perugia