Our Music Cruise got off to a smooth start with an easy journey to Athens on Friday and a pleasant free evening there before embarking on our ship “Wind Spirit” in Piraeus the next morning. However we were soon alerted to the fact that due to high winds we had “zero percent chance” of anchoring off the island of Zakynthos as planned on Monday, so the captain proposed we headed for Nauplion instead. We readily agreed as this meant (a) avoiding the high winds and (b) a chance of a morning at the ancient site of Epidaurus. We had performed there some years ago (including a concert with Barenboim in the stadium) but it is one of those places which is always worth a return visit. The weather was perfect and Sergej Krylov did not take much persuasion to come along and play some sublime unaccompanied Bach for us in the amphitheatre, where of course you can hear a pin drop even from the highest row. his performance gave several passengers a serious case of goose-bumps, and a visit to the rest of the archeological site and excellent museum rounded off a perfect morning.
On the way back to the ship for lunch we received a message to say that Steven Isseris, who was due to fly out and join us, waa having serious problems at Heathrow. He was originally to have flown to Athens and then taken a connecting flight to Zakynthos but we had sent him a message to tell him that in view of our change of itinerary he should terminate his journey in Athens where a car would now pick him up and take him to the ship in Nauplion. The check-in staff in Heathrow told him that he was not allowed to cancel the second of his two flights, as the double flight ticket London-Athens-Zakynthos was a special price and cheaper than if he just flew the first part of the journey, London-Athens!! We do not yet know how Steven managed to persuade them to bend the somewhat perverse airline rules but apparently he did, and is now on his way to join us in Nauplion.
Our first concert last night was a great success, with Claire Jones and William Bennett playing a spirited Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto to send a concert full of beautiful playing: Caroline Dale and Stephanie Gonley shone in performances of Massenet’s Last Sleep of the Virgin and Meditation from Thais, Phil Harmer was the elegant oboe soloist in Cimarosa’s Overture to I Traci Amanti, and Claire Jones also delighted the audience with Debussy’s Danses Sacree et Profane.
The sun is almost ready to set over the hills of the Peloponnese and we are looking forward to the Captain’s Cocktail Party, a short concert in which Igor Levit will be soloist in a Mozart Piano Concerto, and a great dinner.