Here came the big evening. Backstage, members of the orchestra were practising the difficult passages. It seemed everyone was a bit nervous. After all, this was a very demanding programme, and the performance was being recorded for LSO Live. I was nervous, too, but I was probably more excited than anything. I’ve been told by many members of the orchestra that the performance was going to be quite different from any of the rehearsals. They kept telling me to watch out because anything could happen on the spot, and I was very anxious and curious to find out what it would be like!
We began the concert with the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony. There must have been a lot of ill people in the audience as they didn’t stop coughing even when we all had our instruments ready! Nevertheless, we weren’t at all affected.
We were all anticipating in the silence, and as Gergiev started his iconic flickering of his fingers, the violas played a seamless opening passage. I still can’t believe how well they started the first note together. Their trust, experience and team work was admirable.
The Ninth Symphony felt like riding a horse. It was simply breathtaking. It was so spontaneous I felt I was playing it for the first time. Gergiev took it at a faster tempo at places. Maybe it was the adrenaline but we thought we were constantly pushing our limits. It was very satisfying when we finished the piece and realised we did very well in keeping it very tight. In contrast, the end of the final movement was a lot slower than we had rehearsed it. Our last note faded into silence, which poignantly hung in the air before warm applause. I felt privileged to be able to perform one of Mahler’s best works in one of the world’s best orchestras under the baton of Maestro Gergiev.