Just after Italy and all its unique flavour, I experienced a very different place: Germany. In fact, I have had a preview of sorts a month before in Canada, when I performed an intimate recital in a 250 acres Bavarian domain in Dunham, Quebec. This time, the German town where I was playing, Alzenau, was actually at the northernmost part of Bavaria, and the similarity was striking.
This concert was yet another intimate gathering; a recital programme of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Sarasate held in an old castle. We had to go up exactly 108 steps to the ‘Rittersaal’, where the recital was being held. My pianist for this concert was the wonderful Milana Chernyavska. We seemed to understand each other from the first note, and that’s what always makes chamber music very enjoyable. At the end of our rehearsal, we also had lots of fun with Ravel’s Tzigane, which was not on the program. When I found out that she would be playing the piece with Julia Fischer two days later in London, we decided to give it an impromptu and spontaneous play-through.
Playing three sonatas by three great German/Austrian composers during the concert, I immediately sensed the great centuries-old tradition here of how much taste and reverence people have for the music. It felt wonderful to be a part of this tradition. In contrast, we ended the concert with Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. I always try new things each time I perform this piece, which people love. I must have been very pumped up to the end of the concert for I took the tempo up to an almost ‘possessed’ level, prompting one critic to call me a ‘Teufelsgeiger’, or ‘devil violinist’.