Under two weeks to go and the days are passing with frightening alacrity. At what point in
time does one become a hermit? (I once read that Schnabel used to disappear totally for
about three weeks when he had the ʻHammerklavierʼ on). Today I went to the memorial
concert for the wonderful Richard Rodney Bennett which I wouldnʼt have missed for
anything, then on to the Royal College for an eveningʼs teaching. However next week I will
wind down most normal activities and try to concentrate the digits and the old grey matter.
Iʼm starting to think of the day itself, what Iʼll eat and drink, if Iʼll try and take a couple of 20-minute sleeps, if Iʼm going to have a physiotherapist at hand! I will have an ordinary backed chair at hand as well as the piano stool in case my back starts playing up (I donʼt
have back problems as a rule but 12 hours is an awful long time to be sitting there –
perhaps I should do the odd sonata standing up, like Jerry Lee Lewis). In 2003 friends
brought a lot of cakes, sandwiches, soup, salads, chocolate, and I almost overdid it,
sagging horribly around 7 pm. Perhaps I should read up about marathon runnersʼ nutrition.
Better watch what I drink too, the artistsʼ loos arenʼt that close at St Martinʼs!
Got to sonata no.26 in my preparation today, the one known as “Les Adieux”, and hit a bit
of a stumbling block: it wasnʼt as solid in my ﬁngers and memory as I expected and I had
to do some quite basic work to get it back again. Maybe thatʼs because itʼs never been one
of my favourites (Iʼve occasionally got into trouble over this): I canʼt help feeling that
after the wonderful slow introduction Beethoven began to lose interest in it. Thereʼs also a
note in the last movement that has been “corrected” by Barry Cooper in the new
Associated Board edition: Iʼm convinced heʼs right but it isnʼt easy unlearning a note youʼve
been playing since 1970 (for the curious, itʼs bar 20 right hand – second quaver is A ﬂat in
both the sources but all the editors change it C which is what Iʼve always played).