Salzburg Festival Blog 10 (1 Aug)

Early start do drive my family to the airport. Our two whippets (Minky and Thierry) will be missing Tess and Sam. After a brief stop at our Cambridge home they are heading to our house near Granada in Andalucia where many visitors are expected. I will join them after the festival.

Then over to the Mozarteum to meet with Ruth (Ziesak). Our interval rehearsal the previous evening was of course not very long! We organise ourselves and meet the Mozarteum Orchestra at 10.00 am. Ruth is naturally musical and wins the orchestra’s admiration quickly with her professionalism. Concert proceeds well. Our horn section – superbly marshalled by my Principal Horn (Willi Schwaiger) – play wonderfully in K131. Ruth’s first Aria – Porgi Amor (from ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’) – is touching, but shorter than the originally planned ‘L’Amero (from Il Re pastore), so we decide to play both Arias together for Sunday’s repeat concert. ORF (Austrian Radio) seem happy and our wind players Ingrid (Hasse) and Ferdinand (Steiner) are on inspired form. My only regret is that the enforced programme change means we have missed Markus Tomasi’s refined playing of the violin solo of’ L’Amero’. We will just have to plan this piece again soon.

After the concert, I have many kind invitations to various parties, and am tempted to watch a little of the Stage Orchestra rehearsal of ‘Moisie’. In the end , as perhaps often happens with many options available I opt for a tranquil afternoon in Aigen, and a delicious supper cooked by harpsichordist Rob Howarth at the spectacular residence of Ken Smith. Ken has a unique career. He goes around Europe providing and tuning superb harpsichords and organs for the major concert-halls and opera houses. it is an arduous and demanding life, involving long hours and lots of traveling at anti-social hours. He is however the best tuner I know – factoring in all the variables of temperature and humidity. Very important for four-hour operas that the harpsichords stay in tune until the end. He is very knowledgeable about the various temperaments and unfailingly obliging in dealing with demanding conductor’s idiosyncratic requests for various types of harpsichord and organ! Thank you Ken for your patience!!

His house is approached on Steingasse – this mysterious, most atmospheric of streets. Though the door one is faced with a cavernous cellar reminiscent of a James Bond movie set. One expects the character ‘Q’ to jump out with some fiendish invention! Several stories up in the palatial lift and we are transported to an old an aristocratic Austrian world. The house towers behind the Roof-terrace of Hotel Stein so the views are spectacular. Rob’s cooking isn’t bad either. We are joined later by Elizabeth Fleming (one of the English imports to the Salzburg Bach Choir for ‘Theodora’) and language coach for the same. She has been a great help in both capacities this summer and am proud of the level of musical achievement delivered by alumni of Clare College cambridge-my own alma-mater. I leave early to enjoy a quick drink with my good friend Pia Clodi-recently returned from Vienna and here for the Festival. Tomorrow is a big day.