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And You Think You're Having A Bad Day

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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What's your worst memory of performance panic? Imagine showing up with the wrong solo — that's what happened to pianist Maria João Pires, who mixed up which Mozart concerto she was supposed to play.

Pianist Maria João Pires realized in a shock onstage that she'd been booked to play another piece of music altogether.

Pianist Maria João Pires realized in a shock onstage that she'd been booked to play another piece of music altogether.

An old video is suddenly making the internet rounds, because living vicariously through a performance nightmare is an ever-popular sport, I guess. (And we've collected plenty ourselves.)

It depicts pianist Maria João Pires in front of an audience (at a dress rehearsal?) with conductor Riccardo Chailly and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. Just another day on the job for this elegant Portuguese soloist — until she realizes that she's prepared the wrong Mozart concerto for the performance.

With characteristic understatement, she appears to tell Chailly (at about :50 in), "I'm going to try it." And because it's Pires, she pulls it off — brilliantly. As pianist Stephen Hough observed this week in the Telegraph, "The real shock, the real skill, the real miracle is the luminous sound she creates as she arches that opening gesture in a circle of intense but understated expression."

What's your very worst "uh-oh" moment onstage?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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