The next day was a whirlwind, with a lunchtime concert in Brussels at the beautiful concert hall, Flagey, and then an evening recital back in Ghent. Some wonderful friends from Switzerland made the trip all the way to Brussels to hear the concert – a real treat for me to see them and know that they had made such an effort to hear my concert! The evening recital in Ghent was at the Quatre Mains Klavier Center, and a lot of fun end the day with an intimate and small audience after playing for a bigger one at Flagey. Quatre Mains has its own cafe, where the audience and performer relax after a concert, and they like to name drinks after their performers.
Not knowing when (if ever?) I would again come across “a heavy grog” bearing my own name, I had to shamelessly document the incident on this blog. Anyway, in the cafe after performing, I even had the chance to catch up with a Belgian friend who studied at Mannes before moving back home to Ghent. It was a relaxing end to a day which was challenging, but ultimately very rewarding! Friday was a day off with no performances, and the highlights were sleeping until 1 pm and taking a beautiful nighttime walk through Ghent, with Erik showing me all of the scenes of the city.
Saturday marked “part 2” of the tour, with the first of the 3 more recitals to go. I played a house concert in Brussels for an extremely warm audience of around 30 people (very full for a house concert!) including a woman who offered – imagine this – to make a purple suit jacket for me by hand! I expected to have great times in my six concerts, but couldn’t have anticipated De Tetzloffffffire or a purple suit (maybe you can all tell from looking at this website that purple is my favorite color?!). I predict you’ll all be seeing more of this suit in the future, at a recital or in photos on my site… After the house concert, Erik and I took a cab to a quiet village near Waterloo and spent the night with a friend of his. I needed to be at the Chapelle Musicale early, since my concert was at 11:30 am. What a pleasure it was to see every chair in the auditorium filled, thanks to the amazing efforts of Mr. Fierens. And I was so happy to see my friend, Ayrton Desimpelaere, in the audience – a young and brilliant conductor with whom I performed Mozart last year in Russia. It meant a lot that he took the time out of his hectic schedule as assistant conductor at the Royale Opera de Wallonie and principal conductor of the Namur Chamber Orchestra to come and hear me play.
Finally, there was the concert back in Ghent that evening, organized fully by Erik. It was a duo-recital with a wonderful young Belgian pianist, Marie François, and quite a marathon of music – she played a weighty program of Granados, Ravel, and Prokofiev, I followed her with my full-length recital, and finally we played a bit of “quatre mains” at the end. Thanks to Erik’s efforts, the Cultuurkapel Sint-Vincent was full of music lovers, including many people who had already heard another one of my concerts and were coming back for more. It was a joyful evening, captured in this great photo by Yoshie Kuwayama: