We have arrived in Santander. The RLPO is staying at the Hotel Bahia, on the Avenue Alphonsos 13th. It is a great view, overlooking the bay and all the yachts etc. This trip is a real whistlestop. Rehearsal, concert, hotel, sleep, breakfast off to La Coruna, but I’ll do my best to see and find out about things. I’ve got a lovely huge hotel room here which is a luxury. It is a shame it is only for one night. It feels strange doing the Camino Way by luxury bus! Pilgrims, of course, walk the route in its entirety.
My good friend, Bryn Gerard, walked this arduous journey some years back and indeed has the passport to prove it. As well as being a well known artist, Bryn is also a specialist in digital photography; both in his art work and as a professional photographer. He lent me one of his cameras for this tour, as I don’t have one and left his Camino de Santiago passport in it for me. The RLPO have a six and a half hour coach journey tomorrow; I suppose that is meaningless compared to the travels of the pilgrims.
This evening’s concert is a repeat of last night’s in San Sebastian. Vasily Petrenko has called his rehearsal for 5.o0pm this afternoon. The concert starts at 9.00pm, quite common for Spain. Once again Vasily wanted to fine tune the Mahler prior to running the Chopin piano concerto. The venue is a ten minute walk from the hotel so that’s what I did.
Santander is based in a huge bay. We are roughly in the centre. it was a pleasure to walk to work along the impressive water front; passing all the luxury yachts and grand architecture.
The venue, Palace of Festivals, has a nice enough resonance, but the raised palm from Vasily is enough to register that the brass are too loud in this acoustic. Fair enough, we’ll keep the noise down a bit. Sa Chen sounded even more impressive in this hall, as the Steinway appeared to deliver more detail in this room.
I had bought some fruit for tea to try to get something healthy inside me on tour. Not always an easy thing! So I returned to the hotel, having had a bowl of Gazpacho on the way. Today, the weather was cloudy so the sun was not bearing down on us as in San Sebastian. I have gone quite red from cycling around San Sebastian, but Simon Chappell, who fell asleep on the beach in San Sebastian has been renamed Salmon Chappell due to his new bright pink appearance.
I arrived fairly close to the start of the concert this evening, got changed and found myself raring to go with a couple of minutes to spare. I enjoy playing the Chopin, not least to hear ‘Salmon’ Chappell playing the virtuosic bass trombone part. It is a real tour de force part and Simon plays it in a style all his own, with all due bravura. Sa Chen excelled herself even more this evening; the audience refusing to leave for the interval until she had played two encores! Fantastic! The crowd loved it.
Rather than listen to the Mahler, Simon and I decided to explore the exciting ‘back’ streets on the way back to the hotel. We tried a few traditional looking bars and marvelled at the buildings. The whole town seemed to be just waking up by about 11pm and the whole place was heaving by midnight.
Tomorrow, the RLPO travel to La Coruna
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