Last week, we played two programs at Ravinia.
A) Brahms, Piano Concerto no.1; Symphony no.2
B) Brahms, Symphony no. 3; Piano Concerto no.2
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
(There were six two-and-a-half hour rehearsals for these two concerts.)
In preparation for the two programs of familiar pieces, we managed to squeeze the work of three rehearsals into only six – any efficiency expert who happened to look in on the proceedings, including listening to the final result, would have gone away seriously scratching their head. If the point of rehearsals is the preparation for a concert, I can't say the majority of the time was well spent. However, if it is to indulge the urge, latent in many who fancy themselves 'leaders' of one sort or another, namely sadism, then the week must be chalked up as a roaring success. The Marquis, peering down from heaven (or wherever he ended up), must have looked at the fifteen (15!) hours of rehearsal time with a horrific kind of glee.
Arriving at certain rehearsals is akin to stepping into the doctor's office, hearing the snap of the gloves going on at the same moment one realizes the jar of Vaseline is long ago empty. Any positive reasoning about what is about to happen in the next two-and-a-half hours might understandably be replaced with a kind of dread. And after fifteen hours of probing, merciless, relentless, and ultimately pointless - “You were here for a headache? Terribly sorry!” - if the patient, when asked to sashay down the hall, proves a bit unsteady on his feet, it should surprise no one.