I had to pick up my passport at the German Consulate in Cape Town yesterday and on leaving I found out that Misha Maisky is rehearsing in City Hall. I spent the next two hours sitting only a few metres away from him and watched (and listened) as he rehearsed with the Cape Town Philharmonic.
I thought back to the painful years I spent at school finding out that I was not a talented cellist after all. Maisky does not care about any of those book rules that plagued my attempts - he hugs/envelops his instrument - it seems part of his body while he plays. (Actually, I would hate to be one of the normal cellists while he plays - I am sure they feel impotent).
He has the greatest mannerisms too - a snort when he starts, flicking his hair and my favourite - using a little towel to dab up any drops of sweat on his instrument. He moves so much and so violently while playing that I was afraid the rickety piano bench that he sat on might give way!
They played Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B-minor. It is a great piece of music too. I can really recommend his recording of Shostakovich's Cello Concertos No.1 & 2 with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas - in fact it is what I am listening to right now!
And this is what makes South Africa weird - I could listen to all that for a mere R25,00 (that would be EUR 2,70 or USD 3,50).