The Wrong concerto!
There are all sorts of nightmares: Forgetting to go to a Final Exam, while you were in school; running away from a person who wants to harm you; and yes, beginning to play a concerto for piano and orchestra, only to hear that the orchestra has begun the introduction to a different piece than the one you had prepared!
This is what allegedly happened recently to pianist Maria João Pires at a dress rehearsal for an upcoming concert.
Logic does not have a place in nightmares; yet I wonder how come Ms. Pires did not have a meeting with the conductor to discuss tempos, phrasing, cadenzas, and more. Was she a last minute substitute for another pianist, who became ill?
Again it would be strange in a Mozart concerto to start a rehearsal completely cold. I’m not suggesting that there’s any deception in the story, only that it’s puzzling in many aspects.
It turns out that Ms. Pires has played this piece every season for at least the past several years; so perhaps this was not a huge nightmare, after all?
Listen and watch the first few minutes of this video to get a sense of what happened from the evening’s conductor, Ricardo Chailly:
What more can I say? Surprised or not, Ms. Pires’ playing was luminous, clear, warm, and wonderful.
Tags: Maria João Pires, Mozart, Royal Festival Hall, London, piano concerto