When I turned up to play, the orchestra had a different concerto

When I turned up to play, the orchestra had a different concerto


norman lebrecht

March 07, 2016

From the German-based violinist Noé Inui:

noe inui
photo: Yannis Gutmann

Here is a nice story from yesterday.

I was invited to perform the second violin concerto of Mozart in D Major with the Kosice Philarmonie in the south of Hannover (Bad Münder). The concert was planned for 7:30pm. My one and only rehearsal was at 6pm.

The conductor arrives and asks the tempo of the third movement. (I thought that for the KV 211 the 1st mvt’s tempo should be more relevant.) Anyway I decide to sing my tempo and the conductor looks at me with round eyes…..

Yes you got it. They had prepared the D Major KV 218!!

So now begins the running to find a place to print the score on a Sunday evening in a small german “Kurort”. We fortunately found a hotel where we printed the score (with brand new cadenzas!?!). We were ready for rehearsal at 6:50pm for about 15min and then concert.

See previously Barenboim and Mehta, here.


  • Janice says:

    Not as epic as Maria Joao Pires and Chailly at the Concertgebouw, where he surprised her on stage during a lunch concert: she prepared a different concerto and he starts with the D minor. All caught on video:



      Hair-raising. But how can this be a lunchtime “concert”? With Chailly and Pires talking over the orchestra, and he wearing a sweater? And a towel round his shoulders à la James Levine? And someone slamming a door in the hall?

      It must be a rehearsal (but nonetheless traumatic for her).

      • John Borstlap says:

        It must have been one of those ‘open rehearsels’ at wednesday lunch time which are free.

    • MWnyc says:

      What I love about that story is that she tells him, “Maestro, we have a problem” as they’re playing the intro, and he basically says to her – as he continues to conduct the intro – Aw, come on, you know this one, go ahead and play it, you’ll be great.

      And she did and she was.

  • Step Parikian says:

    Been there, done that. How was I to know that Stamitz wrote two flute concerti in G major….

    • Malcolm James says:

      This was only a three amateurs getting together to play the Bach violin and oboe concerto, but the pianist and I had prepared the D minor version and the violinist the C minor version!

      • John Borstlap says:

        if this had been performed, the result would have sounded like late Schoenberg.

      • cherrera says:

        The exact same thing happened to me, except we being professionals, we all decided to sight transpose on the spot.

        Unfortunately, the violinist transposed his c minor to d minor at the same time that the oboist and I transposed our d minor part to c minor, thus producing the exact same cacaphonic result as though we had not transposed at all.

        (No, I’m kidding, I doubt very much many professional musicians can sight transpose Bach, except maybe Barenboim, he’s that smart.)

  • Nicola Lefanu says:

    Ida Haendel once turned up for Bartok Concerto 2 rehearsal and was told orchestra only had the parts for the (inferior) #1 which she learned phenominally quickly !

  • John Borstlap says:

    No doubt Inui will have managed the situation, being a superb musician. (He will be one of the future super stars.) Listen to this rendering of the Brahms sonata nr 1:

    https://youtu.be/OYbQCs1y4wY (radio broadcast)

    (Piano: Vassilis Varvaresos, an equally promising super talent.)

    Classical music lives…. and is caried-on by younger generations.

    • Elsa says:

      I believe both Noé Inui and Vassilis Varvaresos are superstars already.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Yes, in an essentialist way that is true; but in the musical world this has not as yet been noticed enough. No doubt that will come since musical depth and personality has become quite rare.

  • Nick says:

    During a world tour in the 1980s, Abbado conducted the concerts in the USA and Japan. Ivan Fisher took over for a time thereafter. After Mahler 1 in Hong Kong, he and half the orchestra launched into the First Hungarian Dance. Unfortunately the other half thought it was to be No.5. He had no choice but to stop, shout “No. 1” and restart from the top. I always wonder who was more embarrassed – Fischer and the orchestra or the Librarian and the Orchestra Manager.