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Athough Kafka may have once opined, ‘Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have,’ it’s unlikely he was thinking of having a spare E string tucked about one’s person. Yet the question of how to react when a string snaps on stage arose at a concert I attended by the Berlin Philharmonic under Constantinos Carydis at the opening of a concert hall in the Swiss village of Andermatt in June. €is was already a strange evening. €e fact that a major symphony orchestra was playing in a modest hall in a far-from-established Alpine resort made for a bemused gaggle of journalists – and, I suspect, some equally bemused orchestral musicians. So the likely explanation for what happened when concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto’s E string snapped as he played his solo in Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony op.110a is lowered guards. While you couldn’t blame the players for stopping, their laboured recovery was unusual for such a polished ensemble: a helpless shrug from Kashimoto to Carydis; a further pause before Kashimoto and his desk partner uncertainly swapped instruments; then a lengthy and distracting onstage restringing operation, involving not just the second chair but also the second desk, as Kashimoto and everyone else played on.

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About The Strad

Lisa Batiashvili discusses her latest projects and we delve into the mysterious world of varnish making. There’s a look at strategies for teaching adolescents, and Leila Josefowicz completes her look at Berg’s Violin Concerto. Plus Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Sentimental Work.