I have been in Germany, where one of the Florestan Trio’s performances was in the beautiful 18th century Schloss Bruchsal, a place I admit I hadn’t heard of. It turned out that Mozart had visited there, not to play, but to have a meeting with the powerful prince-archbishop who might have offered him patronage. The chamber music room was a vision of loveliness in canary yellow with huge mirrors and sparkling chandeliers. The very idea that Mozart might have been there was inspiring.
Bruchsal itself seemed handsome and peaceful, and my hotel room looked out over baroque spires to the forests and hills beyond, misty in early spring sunshine. It seemed awfully far from London. I spent some time wondering what it would be like to live there, and as I turned from the window to pack, I was feeling calm. I switched on the television. The first news of the earthquake and tsunami in north-east Japan was just starting to come through, with dreadful pictures. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I watched a huge wave, dark and clotted with debris, roar across the Japanese countryside. It was a sickening contrast with what I had just been seeing and imagining as I gazed peacefully out of the window. It felt like one of those moments in a train when the reflection in the window deceives you into thinking you’re travelling in one direction, and then suddenly you realise you’re travelling in the other.