Bob Lauver: The Best Seat in the House

The PSO is closing in on the end of our European Festivals Tour, with a second concert in Lucerne tonight and then one remaining city (Bonn, Germany) to visit, where we also play two concerts. I have said before that I have the best seat in the house for every rehearsal and concert, but on tours that spot becomes all the more special as I hear (up close and personal) the playing of my colleagues in many different acoustics and varying stage placements. It all serves to give our performances a freshness and vitality as we hone our performances night after night. My spot on stage puts me in an enviable proximity to lots of principals, and although I believe one of the greatest strengths of the Pittsburgh Symphony is its depth, it sure is fun sitting in the middle of all that fantastic playing they do! For me a tour (and perhaps all-time) highlight was the woodwind and string playing in the Shostakovich 5 we performed in Bucharest…truly a “pinch me” performance….and did I mention that I sit next to Bill [Caballero]?

This is a picture from Grafenegg when Maestro Honeck was “guessturing” for Bill to stand for a solo bow:

Maestro Honeck gestures to Bill Caballero to take a bowl in Bucharest
Maestro Honeck gestures to Bill Caballero to take a bow

Last night’s concert here in Lucerne centered around Ein Heldenleben and featured another electric performance of the Dvořák Violin Concerto by Anne-Sophie Mütter (a person I think is special even apart from her talent because my mother’s name is Anne and my youngest daughter’s name is Sophie), along with a suite from Jenufa by Leoš Janáček. We have already recorded the Strauss, and will record the Jenufa suite in November along with another gem by Dvořák, his Symphony #8. Although I believe that the recording we made a few years back with Honeck is wonderful and Cardenes’ playing of the solo work is exemplary, I wish we could make another recording of it just so we have Noah’s performance of it to marvel at as well. Noah [Bendix-Balgley] is a freak. I was trying to come up with some profound thing to say about him…old soul, apparently effortless in playing and leadership, endless musicianship and technique…but freak pretty much sums it up (a very laid back, nice freak)!

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