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And You Think You're Having A Bad Day

By Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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?

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