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Interview January 2018: 10 Questions with I. Page

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Ian Page: Official Sites
Ian Page Site: Ian Page & Classical Opera / The Mozartists
Ian Page: Ian Page (Twitter)
Ian Page: CO & The Mozartists (Twitter)
Ian Page: CO & The Mozartists (Facebook)
Ian Page: CO & The Mozartists (YouTube)
Ian Page: CO & The Mozartists (Season 2017/2018)

Ian Page: CD Albums
Ian Page: Mozart: Il Sogno di Scipione
Ian Page: Mozart: Haydn, Beethoven: Perfido!
Ian Page: Mozart: Zaide


1. In 2017/2018 you are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Classical Opera, that, with its period-instrument orchestra under your direction as conductor, has gained the status of one of the major international leading exponents not only of the music of Mozart but also of his many contemporaries (i.e. Gluck, J.C.Bach, T.Arne, N.Jommelli and many others), thanks to a series of highly critically acclaimed live concerts and CD recordings. In 1997 you have founded Classical Opera, then in 2017 you have launched The Mozartists… Can you tell us about the story behind the birth and the many years of activity of Classical Opera? When did you encounter the music of Mozart for the first time and when did you decide to found Classical Opera and why? What have been the major challenges and the major accomplishments, you experienced during these 20 years? And what about The Mozartists?

It’s been a wonderful journey, although in many ways I’m always too close to it to be able to see the growth and evolution from a proper perspective.

In my late teens the music of Mozart occupied an increasingly important place in my heart – the piano concertos were my initial way in – and when I was at University at York (my degree was actually in English Literature), Roger Norrington came to conduct Beethoven’s Eroica symphony with the chamber orchestra there. It was completely revelatory for me, and I soon started supplementing by listening habits with period-instrument recordings of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

I was bowled over by how fresh, vibrant and surprising this core repertoire sounded with these instruments…

…The music suddenly seemed to make so much more sense; it was like scraping the veneer off an old painting by a great master and discovering that the original colours were so much brighter and more compelling.

By this stage I was in London studying as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music, and there I met David Syrus, who was for many years Head of Music at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (he only retired from the position last year). Like many other students before and since, I was fired by David’s musicianship, wisdom and supreme decency and generosity as a human being, and opera seemed to represent the ideal fusion of my twin loves of music and literature.

One thing led to another, and I naturally gravitated more and more towards Mozart’s operas…

…After the RAM I joined the music staff at Scottish Opera, where I worked with the Handel specialist Nick McGegan on a new production of La clemenza di Tito, and this again proved a revelatory experience. I was astonished by how wide the gulf generally was between a good and a bad performance of works like Tito or Idomeneo, and the following year Nick asked me to assist him at the uniquely beautiful and evocative rococo theatre in Drottningholm, Sweden. I was also now working at Glyndebourne, and specialising increasingly in Mozart. This was still limited to the big four or five operas, but I was becoming more and more interested in where Mozart’s operatic style and personality grew from. This was the seed for starting Classical Opera; I was struck by the dichotomy between Mozart being arguably the most highly regarded composer in the history of opera and yet only about a quarter of his operas holding a place in the repertoire of the world’s opera houses. There was no sudden light-bulb moment, but it gradually became important to me to try to set up a company that could do for Mozart what the Royal Shakespeare Company does for Shakespeare.

Over the years our brief, and my interests and ambitions for the company, have evolved, influenced partly by my growing fascination with placing Mozart’s music in context and partly by the feeling that there should be no limit to the repertoire we explore, having invested so much in assembling a wonderful team of musicians and establishing a shared philosophy and approach to performing the music of the 18th century. The name Classical Opera has increasingly felt limiting to this evolution, and earlier this year we launched The Mozartists as a vehicle for our expanding concert work.

Over our first 20 years our repertoire has already ranged from cantatas by Handel and Pergolesi to symphonies by Beethoven and Schubert, but Mozart – and his operas in particular – has always been our starting point. This new name allows us greater freedom and flexibility in our programming, while hopefully also causing less confusion among promoters and audiences. The important step for me was the recognition that we’re not exclusively an opera company, and so long as Mozart remains central to our repertoire and mission, there’s no reason why we can’t also explore Handel and Beethoven and even beyond.

20th Birthday Concert – 9 October 2017

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Classical Opera Company rehearsing Artaxerxes

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Classical Opera - Adriano in Siria

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2. In October 2017 you have released the CD recording Il Sogno di Scipione by Mozart, an opera composed in Salzburg in 1771, when Mozart was only 15 years old. You have studied and conducted Mozart’s early works, especially operas, for a long time: what’s your general impression on this incredible work by a young genius of 15 years old? Which parts of Il Sogno di Scipione impressed you most? In June 2018 you are going to conduct Mozart’s first full-length opera La finta semplice (1768), marking so another 250th anniversary. La finta semplice was written in 1768, in difficult conditions, and Il Sogno di Scipione in 1771, after Mozart’s formative experience in Italy: what’s the technical difference between the two works, in your opinion? Il Sogno di Scipione is part of your project The Complete Mozart Operas, which started in 2012: at which point of your Mozartian operatic parcours are you now and what for the future?

The parallel with Shakespeare is a significant one.

Both Mozart and Shakespeare wrote some works that are less good than others, but even in the least good ones they will suddenly do something – tap a depth of beauty, wisdom or truth – that no one else could have thought of.

Il sogno di Scipione is an interesting case in point. It’s not one of his most challenging or accomplished works – indeed it’s the first release in our ongoing complete Mozart Opera cycle that we recorded without having previously performed the work in the theatre or the concert hall – but it still has touches, details, sleights of hand, that none of his contemporaries could have thought of…

… There’s an accompanied recitative near the end in which Scipio awakens from his dream. As he stirs the sound-world suddenly changes and the strings play two bars that instantly transport the listener to a magical, elevated place.

Il sogno di Scipione

The more familiar I become with Mozart’s early operas the more aware I become that what he was extraordinary at is matching the scale and ambition of each work to the level and expectation of the commission. Works commissioned to celebrate royal weddings were virtuosic but emotionally shallow, and works written for young or amateur performers were charming but technically undemanding, while he was able to throw the kitchen sink at major commissions such as Mitridate and Lucio Silla, in the knowledge that he was writing for some of the top singers and players of the day.

Il sogno di Scipione was commissioned as a dutiful and obsequious act of homage to the Archbishop of Salzburg, so it had a specific function whose message would only be muddied by a complex plot. In truth, the piece has virtually no plot whatsoever, and this had been one of my reasons for not having performed it before. During rehearsals for the recording, though, the moment we accepted the lack of plot and started to explore the way the score underpins and enhances the philosophical nature of the libretto, we found that the music suddenly lifted off the page, and it was wonderful to see how much our singers and players started to appreciate and enjoy the piece.
La finta semplice was composed for Vienna’s leading opera buffa singers, although in the end it was never performed there, and Goldoni’s libretto is genuinely comic, so the twelve-year-old Mozart gave it his best shot. In keeping with the styles of the day, the arias are substantially shorter than opera seria ones, but the music is astonishingly skilful and successful, and the chain-finales already anticipate the celebrated Da Ponte operas

La Finta Semplice Trailer – 6 & 8 June 2018

… At the conclusion there is even a poignant pre-echo of Le nozze di Figaro, as Giacinta begs forgiveness from her brothers for her impish trickery. With Rosina’s Senti l’eco and Amoretti, too, time suddenly seems to stand still and the comedy is briefly suspended in a vision of genuine sincerity, compassion and vulnerability.

The next release (the seventh) in our ongoing complete Mozart cycle will be of Bastien und Bastienne, which we are coupling with the early dramatic cantata Grabmusik. These two works, both completed before Mozart even reached his teens, will be released in autumn 2018, and again reflect Mozart’s skill at matching his music to the scale of the commission. Bastien und Bastienne was the only one of Mozart’s operas to be conceived for performance in a private house rather than a theatre or opera house, but its bucolic charm and simplicity are beguiling.

Grabmusik, meanwhile, was allegedly the result of a test set by the distrusting Archbishop of Salzburg, who had the young composer confined to solitary confinement while he set the text, to prove that he was not receiving help from his father or any other elders. The result is one of Mozart’s least known works, but it contains music of incredible emotional range, that must have quashed any doubters for good!

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Ian Page’s
THE COMPLETE MOZART’S OPERAS – CD Series (2011-2017)
& Other Albums
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Mozart: Il sogno di Scipione
Perfido! Vocal Works by Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven
Mozart: Zaide

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Handel: Where’re You Walk
Mozart: Il Re Pastore
Mozart: Mitridate, re di Ponto

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Mozart: Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots
Mozart: Apollo et Hyacinthus
Gluck: Blessed Spirit

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Arne: Artaxerxes
A-Z Mozart Opera

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3. In 2015 with your Classical Opera you have launched another special type of concerts, synchronically featuring works by Mozart and by his major contemporaries during the same musical season: MOZART 250, which, through its concerts and its retrospective Series, chronologically follows an ideal 250th anniversary line in the annual footsteps of Mozart’s life from 1765/2015 (Mozart’s childhood visit to London) to 1791/2041. What led you to create such special annual series of musical events? Beside Mozart’s La finta semplice, in 2018 you’ll present Haydn’s Applausus, his Symphony No. 26 Lamentatione and other works by him and music by J.C.Bach, Jommelli, Hasse and Vanhal: what about your interest in the music by this group of composers and, in particular, in the music by Haydn?

Again, I can’t remember the exact moment I had the idea, but it seems to incorporate several of the things that are important to me. I’ve always been fascinated by what music Mozart heard and was influenced by, and which of his fellow composers he admired (he was famously dismissive of most of them!).

I also found myself being increasingly frustrated by reviewers and commentators judging Mozart’s early works in comparison with the masterpieces he was writing twenty years later rather than with the other music being written and performed at the same time.

Even when I first set up Classical Opera it seemed obvious that if we learnt to perform works like La finta semplice and Mitridate well then that would beneficially inform our performances of the great masterpieces of his maturity, and with MOZART 250 it’s proved really useful to be able to place Mozart’s works alongside works being written in the same year by other composers. Even those pieces which Mozart would almost certainly not have heard throw light on the gradual evolution of musical style during his lifetime, and of course the works that he did know are of even greater interest.

We’ve already featured over thirty composers in the first three years of MOZART 250, and our 2015 mini-festival exploring the music being performed in London during Mozart’s childhood stay there featured several composers that not even I had heard of before – people like Mattia Vento, Davide Perez, George Rush and William Bates.

We’ll be releasing a 2-CD set of highlights from these concerts in May 2018.

If everything goes according to plan MOZART 250 will generally form approximately half of our live projects each year between now and 2041.

Every January we present a retrospective concert offering an overview of the musical year 250 years previously. Our 1768 survey, which takes place at Wigmore Hall on 23 January, will include symphonies by Haydn and Vanhal, a flute concerto by Johann Christian Bach, played by our principal flautist Katy Bircher, and arias from Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe, Haydn’s Lo speziale and Mozart’s La finta semplice, all sung by the young Swiss-Belgian soprano Chiara Skerath, making her UK début. Devising these programmes is very labour-intensive but I really enjoy the process, and it always throws up some fascinating discoveries.

Of course there are some years when Mozart was extremely prolific and others when he wrote very little, but even the least productive years provide opportunities to dig a little deeper into other more obscure repertoire…

…  1766 (2016), for example, was a relatively thin year on paper, but it enabled us to present the UK première of Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, which proved to be a great success. As we enter the fourth year of MOZART 250 a consistent pattern is starting to take shape, with Haydn unsurprisingly emerging as the leading light alongside the young Mozart.

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And about Haydn,…

… just consider that, beside Applausus and his symphony No. 26 for this season, I’m on a mission to champion all the symphonies without a nickname, because they tend to be overlooked in favour of those with nicknames, and among those nos. 47, 80 and 99 are particular favourites.

Haydn 2009 Celebrations

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Ian Page’s MOZART 250 – The Journey of a Lifetime
Complete Concerts Series (2015-2018)
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Mozart 250: Year 1768-2018
Mozart 250: Year 1767-2017
Mozart 250: Year 1766-2016
Mozart 250: Year 1765-2015

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4. You have worked at Glyndebourne and Drottningholm, experiencing, in this way, peculiar conditions of opera performance, a few of them, certainly typical of the 18th century (the Drottningholm Theatre, for example): how such experiences enriched your vision of the 18th century music? You have worked also with Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Alexander Gibson, Ivor Bolton, Nicholas McGegan, Mark Wigglesworth: how did they contribute to your growth as a musician, as a conductor and as an artist? You work with many marvellous, also young, artists and professionals year after year: do you want to remember someone in particular and some anecdotes? And as an entrepreneur, what have been your major challenges and what your advice and tips for those who’d like to launch their careers in the world of classical music as entrepreneurs?

When I assisted Nic McGegan at Drottningholm we were working on a production of Una cosa rara by Martin y Soler, and it was fascinating to work on such a typical 18th-century opera there.

After a few weeks in a rehearsal studio in Stockholm it seemed like a distinctly average piece with a fairly ordinary cast, but as soon as rehearsals moved into the Drottningholm theatre the piece, and the singers, suddenly sounded a million dollars!

That was a really formative experience for me; it made me realise that there are so many 18th-century works that need the right tender, loving care to flourish, and that they really start to make sense when you can recreate the conditions for which they were originally conceived.

Glyndebourne was also a wonderful place to work, and it was there that I first met and worked with Sir Charles Mackerras. I worked on all three of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas there, and as assistant conductor I had musical responsibility for luxuriously extensive understudy rehearsals, which provided me with the opportunity to work with some of the leading young singers in the country. I subsequently assisted Mackerras on his recording of Idomeneo, and he followed the development of Classical Opera with a keen interest, always generous with his advice and encouragement. Along with Stanley Sadie and Christopher Raeburn – two other great people, great minds and great Mozartians – he was the most influential mentor for me in the early years of the company.

I worked with the other three conductors you mention on rather different repertoire – Puccini, Britten and Stravinsky – but I learnt a huge amount from all of them. Sir Alex was particularly warm and inspirational, and I continue to hold Mark Wigglesworth up as a role model for his fierce musical intelligence and the depth of his thinking and preparation.

Then there are the conductors and other musicians from whom I’ve learnt so much from watching them perform or listening to their recordings. We should always retain an overriding sense of modesty and humility, but at the same time it’s really important in refining our own thoughts and interpretations to analyse what we particularly like or dislike about other performers and performances.

When I started Classical Opera we quickly gained a reputation for our work in identifying and nurturing top-quality young singers. This was partly due to the fact that we couldn’t afford more established artists, but it’s also true that this repertoire particularly suits young voices.

Young singers also tend to be more open to the style of detailed, explorative rehearsals that I prefer, and what I find particularly satisfying now is that when singers who worked with us at the start of their careers come back after a gap of several years, we already have a shared language which comes back in a matter of minutes, as with all good friendships.

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It took me rather longer to work out and identify the sort of players that I most enjoyed working with, but now that we have established such a strong and loyal sense of ensemble I’m continually inspired and fed by the players with whom I work.

It takes a certain type of open spirit, and intellectual rigour, to tame and master these wonderful old instruments, and building an ensemble isn’t just about finding the best players but also about instilling the right shared values, goals and reasons for doing what we do.

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5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

Oh dear, these answers will probably change on a daily basis!

For Mozart it would probably have to be one of the operas or one of the piano concertos.

The C minor Mass would also be a contender, probably more so than the Requiem, and a recent addition to the short-list would be the Sinfonia Concertante K.364, which I conducted for the first time three months ago. But how to whittle it down to one? The old cliché is probably right, that my favourite Mozart opera is the one I’m working on at the time, but this week, and off the top of my head because I know the question will get harder the more I think about it, my short-list would be Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte and the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor. And if I had to name one – today, and without questioning why on earth Figaro and Don Giovanni aren’t on my shortlist – I’ll say Così fan tutte. It’s such a profound, complex and modern score, and is still widely misunderstood and under-appreciated.

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Haydn is hardly any easier.

As I’ve already said previously, I’m on a mission to champion all the symphonies without a nickname, because they tend to be overlooked in favour of those with nicknames, and among those nos. 47, 80 and 99 are particular favourites. Today’s podium places, though, would be occupied by:

3. String Quartet in F major, Op. 77, no. 2.
2. Piano Sonata No. 52 in E flat major
1. Symphony No. 44 in E minor, Trauer

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6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

You mean apart from Mozart?…

… I’m only joking, but I do love the line of Peter Schickele, who, when asked which composer he considered to be the most underrated, replied: «Mozart – since the highest rave is a gross understatement».

Gluck CO’s Blessed Spirit at Gramophone Critics Choice December 2010

Apart from Mozart, there is still valuable work to be done in increasing appreciation of Gluck (especially his pre-Orfeo operas) and Johann Christian Bach, but of the more forgotten names there are five that stand out for me: Beck, Jommelli, Kraus, Traetta and Vanhal.

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7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

I have quite a lot of these, including several by the composers I’ve just mentioned.

They’re not confined to lesser known composers either; in March we’re performing Haydn’s Applausus cantata, which doesn’t seem to have been presented in London for many years. I’m in a very fortunate position, because when I do come across a neglected work that I really rate I can often incorporate it into our programming.

For this question, though, I’m actually going to choose a work by Mozart – his concert aria Ah, lo previdi, K.272…

Perfido!

… Mozart’s concert arias in general don’t get as much exposure as they deserve, and I’ve never understood why this should be…

… Maybe promoters just don’t think of singers to fill their concerto slot. Whatever the reasons for their relative neglect, Mozart’s concert arias contain some of his best music, and the more extended ones are like concentrated mini-operas in their own right.

Ah, lo previdi is certainly one of these, a scena lasting over twelve minutes and incorporating two fiercely dramatic recitatives – the second one in particular contains some astonishing harmonic shifts and moments of exquisite, tender vulnerability – and two arias, the second of which incorporates a beautiful oboe solo.

Mozart clearly held the work in high regard, subsequently urging his beloved Aloysia Weber to learn it and «to put yourself in all seriousness into Andromeda’s situation and position», and the celebrated Mozart biographer Alfred Einstein wrote that Mozart «almost never wrote anything more ambitious, or containing stronger dramatic feeling».

We are including this piece in Perfido!, our recent recording of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven concert arias with Sophie Bevan, and I was delighted how many of the reviews singled it out for praise.

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

I’m very grateful for the opportunity that this question gives me to acknowledge some of the books I couldn’t do without!

With Mozart of course we are lucky in that we have a very substantial series of Mozart family letters that have survived, and Otto Deutsch’s collection of Mozart documents is similarly indispensable, so these are the two bibles.

Too many modern biographies intercede with their author’s own attempts to formulate a particular theory or new angle, but a glorious exception is Stanley Sadie’s Mozart: the early years. This was intended as the first of a two-part biography, but Stanley sadly died before he could write the second book. For a clear, authoritative and insightful overview of Mozart’s life and works up until 1781, though, this is the book to have.

Scarcely a month goes past without me referring to two other fabulous books: The Compleat Mozart (don’t be put off by the title), edited by Neal Zaslaw, is a wonderful compendium of Mozart’s complete works, and Peter Clive’s Mozart and his Circle contains invaluable biographical entries on all the important people in Mozart’s life.

Zaslaw’s benchmark book on Mozart’s Symphonies is also outstanding, and for Mozart’s operas I still don’t think that anyone has rivalled William Mann’s The Operas of Mozart, first published in 1977, which has the huge advantage of devoting a whole chapter to each of the pre-Idomeneo operas, rather than merging them into a token single-chapter appraisal.

My final top recommendation would be John A. Rice’s Mozart on the Stage, which has fascinating information and insights on how Mozart’s operas would have been composed, rehearsed and staged.

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9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Like the play, the film of Amadeus has plenty of critics, but despite its faults it does recreate the spirit of Mozart’s Vienna (despite being filmed in Prague!), and the flights of fancy about how some of Mozart’s compositions came into being are captivating and imaginative, if spurious. I also find Farinelli exciting for its evocation of 18th-century theatres and opera performances.

In terms of documentaries, Phil Grabsky’s excellent In Search of… series has incorporated full length films devoted to Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, but I have a hazy memory of a wonderful series of TV programmes on these composers (and Schubert) from the 1980s…

… It was presented by Bamber Gascoigne and had Stanley Sadie as musical consultant, and I think it was called Man and Music. I’ve no idea whether these programmes are available anywhere now, but I’d love to know if they are, if only to see if they’re as good as I remember…

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10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

I’m not sure I can think of anywhere about which I could make such an expansive claim, but the Drottningholm Slottsteater is my own personal First Choice.

I’m a big fan of Stockholm and its people, and the story behind the theatre’s preservation is such a fortuitous and romantic one. It’s an amazingly beautiful place and setting, too, but more than anything it’s the ambience inside the theatre itself which is truly magical. It feels as close to time travel as I’m ever likely to get!

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

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Copyright © 2018 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

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CD Spotlight January 2018: Rosetti Concertos for Horn & for Two Horns

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Concertos for Horn & Two Horns

The Series of Concertos
for Horns by Rosetti acquired
a certain notoriety
for their beautiful quality
and because Mozart noticed them
and used a few of them as models
for his own Horn Concertos.

Klaus Wallendorf & Sarah Willis
Johannes Moesus
Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie
CPO Records

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Interview December 2017: 10 Questions with M. S. Zimmer & W. Holsbergen

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Zimmer-Holsbergen: Official Sites
Zimmer-Holsbergen Site: The Unheard Beethoven

Zimmer-Holsbergen: CD Albums
Zimmer-Holsbergen : Beethoven: The Forgotten Works for String Quartet
Zimmer-Holsbergen : Beethoven: Fantasies for Piano


This month a very curious and interesting journey through the extra-rarities, the many snippets and sketches and the various intriguing unfinished works left by L. van Beethoven, which all constitute an incredible really voluminous corpus (ca. some hundreds of neglected works by the great master!) and the many contemporary projects to prepare or reconstruct new performance editions for the modern Concert Halls…

1. Your project and your work on Beethoven certainly reached a particular status of recognition, when it left the Internet to reach the Concert Halls. First of all, with the great Leonard Slatkin, conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington in 2001 and then in 2011 with the Naxos Records Belgian conductor Patrick Baton. Can you tell us about your experience and some major anecdotes on the live premieres and such a special passage from the Internet to Concert Halls?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

I still remember well the phone call I received from our friend and supporter James F. Green, who is also on the board of the American Beethoven Society. He had, unbeknownst to us, leaned on some supporters of the National Symphony, and somehow received an audience with Maestro Slatkin, in order to show him the score of the Macbeth Overture as realized from Beethoven’s sketches by Willem. As Jim tells it, Slatkin was receptive, agreed to look at the score, and thumbed through it saying, «this is good… I like this… I think we have room in our opening concert of the fall». It’s far beyond what Jim had expected and certainly a massive surprise to us. It’s amazing what doors can be opened with just a little persistence. It’s really a tribute to Slatkin’s willingness to try new things and make an impression.

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The premiere was shaping up to be a major event, with dignitaries and ambassadors from across the globe penciled in to attend. Unfortunately, the concert was scheduled for September 2011, and the premiere was just over a week away when the World Trade Center was hit in New York. All flights were shut down, and it looked as though the concert might even be cancelled. It was exceedingly doubtful that Willem would be able to make it, coming from Europe. Finally the concert was confirmed, and some rules were loosened to permit air travel, and both Willem and I were able to attend. On my flight to Washington DC there was only one other passenger, a fellow on crutches, so I figured I could take him if he caused any trouble. But the trip was uneventful for me.

Once in Washington, I met up with Green and Willem, and also met a number of other Unheard Beethoven supporters: the late musicologist Avishai Kallai from Israel, writer Gail Altman, Annie Moss Moore the creator of the sadly now-defunct Beethoven recording database, pianist and musicologist Susan Kagan, William Meredith then the director of the San Jose Ira F. Brilliant Beethoven Center, and others. It was an amazing time, and it was incredibly thrilling to attend the rehearsal of the orchestra as they worked their way through the Macbeth; it was clear that the basses in particular enjoyed the meaty parts that Willem had written for them. While I’d heard the synthesized version from our website many time, to finally hear it with a live orchestra was simply overwhelming. It was the second time I’d met Willem face to face, but we had spent so much time talking over the Internet it was like we were brothers immediately.

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I attended all three performances of the Macbeth by the National Symphony, and it was a wonderful experience. The ABS had also arranged for some of us to venture to the National Archives and actually handle (with white gloves) some Beethoven manuscripts. It’s such a connection with history to physically touch the papers that Beethoven himself wrote upon. I happily translated in my best woeful singing voice what was written there and conducted in my white gloves, to the amusement of the other spectators.

Willem had more involvement with Patrick Baton than I did.

We also had another live presentation at the Kennedy Center about ten years after the Macbeth premiere, where Willem’s realization of the second movement of the lost oboe concerto Hess 12 was presented, with H. David Meyers as the soloist.

The Unheard Beethoven:
Beethoven, Choral Fantasy Op. 80 (New Version World Premiere)
After Beethoven’s own sketches (Hess 16)
Conductor Patrick Baton
Liege, March 2011 (first 3 min. 36)


                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

As Mark said, I was on the first plane from Europe after the 09.11. There were many Americans on board, who had been stranded in Europe for 5 days, because all flights had been cancelled. When we flew over New York, the Americans went to the windows looking for the disappeared Towers. A solemn moment. An inaudible, silent gasp went through the plane…

… Later on, when I reached Washington, of course, I never believed the theory that a group of Avantgarde composers had carried out the attack, and that their actual aim had been… the very Kennedy Center, just to sabotage the premiere. That’s just too silly… these people would never have been able to carry it through…

Anyhow one… I must really call him a journalist!?… (but we must really call him this way…!?) had been making a lot of noise for several weeks, protesting against the performance. He said that the time allocated to the Macbeth ought to have gone to a contemporary piece… But he totally missed the point that the Macbeth, by its very nature, could equally be called a contemporary piece, indeed, that is precisely its raison d’être

What he actually meant to say is that the emotional states expressed in that piece, and the use of 19th century skills, are strictly forbidden by the rules of the Avantgarde ideology, and… that these should be kept repressed…!?!?!?

As for Patrick Baton, he is a very intelligent musician, and passionate about the music he performs. I enjoyed our conversations very much. He has a rare insight, and the ability to get to the essence very quickly.

We did a special version of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. The piece starts with a long introduction for piano solo. The interesting thing, however, is that Beethoven sketched a string accompaniment for that intro, probably after he had published the score. These string parts are numbered as Hess 16, and Baton did the world premiere of that version. The main takeaway from the event was that the introduction does indeed sound much better with the strings.

So, pianists planning to perform the Choral Fantasy should really take that into consideration… Not doing so is, frankly, a real musical shame.

Belgian TV announcing
Beethoven: New Choral Fantasy Hess 16 World Premiere
Liege, March 2011

The Unheard Beethoven:
Oboe Concerto (Hess 12) World Premiere
Patrick Baton (Conductor), Nathalie Rompen (Oboe)
Liege, March 2011

2. What’s the origin of your project? How have you been developing it through the years? What have been the great challenges and the great accomplishments, you experienced during these years?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

The project began in a haphazard sort of way back in the 1990s. I was fresh to the Internet and had discovered DALNet, an Internet Relay Chat host, through an acquaintance who was using it to talk with friends about a mutual interest in carnival glass. I got onto it as well and wondered if there was a Beethoven discussion on the internet. In fact, there was a #beethoven channel, which was either run by Willem or he was one of the major participants, under the name of ‘xickx.’ We both were inveterate collectors of Beethoven recordings, and at some point the discussion turned to the complete works of Beethoven, and whether it was possible to amass a collection of recordings that would in some sense be complete. As a frustrated librarian and historian (I’m actually an attorney since neither of those things pays very well), I dove into the question with gusto.

The first issue was, what exactly constitutes the complete works?

Obviously, there are the 138 works with opus numbers, but there were at that time 205 more WoO (Werke ohne Opuszahl, or Works without Opus numbers) in the Kinsky-Halm catalogue. And then we found out about Willy Hess’s catalogues of Beethoven’s works, which in its 335 works overlapped somewhat with Kinsky-Halm’s catalogue. Thankfully, I live in Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin, and they have a splendid music library that has copies of both Kinsky-Halm (and its supplements) and the Hess catalogue. Then we found out that Giovanni Biamonti had in 1968 assembled an even more complete catalogue, with many more works, some of them fragmentary, some of them complete, that had been missed by both of the others, running up to… 849 numbers!

So complete was obviously a moving target that was elusive.

But it was shocking to us how many of these works had never been recorded!

At that time, the vast majority of the folksong arrangements had never been recorded, many of the piano bagatelles, some of the lieder and choral works, and many others. In addition, the recordings of some of the others were quite rare and hard to come across. I combed through the library’s old Schwann catalogues covering the entire LP era trying to track down recordings. I had standing orders with a number of record search services to find the more elusive items. For several years Willem and I swapped cassette tapes of recordings across the Atlantic in those pre-MP3 days, in an effort to fill in the holes in each others’ collections.

In the end, we were still left with a great many Beethoven compositions that we would never be able to hear. Willem then introduced me to midi sequencers, which allowed one to synthesize a crude version of a composition so you could hear something of what it would sound like; he shared a number of his efforts and it seemed like a great idea. In the meantime, I was also in touch with the San Jose Beethoven Center and its gloriously helpful librarian/archivist Patricia Elliott Stroh, about getting scores for a number of Beethoven pieces that hadn’t been recorded. We began synthesizing them and sharing them with each other and the participants on DALnet. I no longer remember what Willem’s first efforts were, but I remember that mine were the string quintet version of WoO 62, the last thing of substance Beethoven wrote, and his setting of Erlkönig, WoO 131, written decades before Schubert’s famous settings but nevertheless quite similar indeed.

As we proceeded, getting copies of scores from the UW-Madison Music Library, which had a set of Hess’s Supplement to the Gesamtausgabe, and more scores of rarities from San Jose, we soon had close to 100 midi files. While it was fun to swap them and share them on DALnet, it was clear that there was an opportunity being lost there, and it would be nice to share them more widely…

I think Willem suggested a permanent website to host them. I had a friend, Steve Lange, who did website design and hosting, and asked if he’d be willing to help us out. He was more than willing—I think his exact reaction was something like: «This is exactly what the Internet should be about». We puzzled about a name for a while and came up with The Unheard Beethoven, which is a little clunky, but certainly distinctive, since it both suggests what people are missing and plays off Beethoven’s own deafness.

It took a few months, but Steve got us up and running and we’ve been adding things in fits and starts ever since. The website still resides at http://unheardbeethoven.org after nearly 20 years.

At some point Steve Lange got another job and no longer was doing website design; he tried to help us over the years but eventually he had to turn it over to another fellow who did some nice work for us. Unfortunately he had some personal problems and we had difficulty reaching him.

That was unsatisfactory, and we asked Steve for help again. He suggested another of his friends, composer Kevin McLeod (who provides a massive library of his royalty-free music at https://incompetech.com/music/ ). Kevin was wanting to do more web design and he agreed to help us bring The Unheard Beethoven back to life in the 21st century. Kevin got us set up with a new website in February of 2013, running on a WordPress framework that allows us to (mostly) do all the updating we want ourselves.

We celebrated by converting many of the MIDI files to mp3s to take advantage of the greater bandwidth availability and the ubiquity of the format… not to mention improved sound quality, since we could use our sample libraries that were much superior to the run of the mill libraries that our users generally had, in order to generate the mp3s.

Among the new features of the new site, probably The Unheard Blog is one of the features we like best, since it allows us (and guest writers) to spout off about topics that we are interested in.

We’ve been adding things steadily and there’s still more in the works; I’m currently working on the recently-published volumes of Beethoven’s counterpoint studies with Haydn and Albrechtsberger; they’re not the most interesting things in the world (especially the studies with Haydn), but the knowledge of fugue and counterpoint that Beethoven developed in these works is vital to the understanding of the fascination that the fugue held for him throughout his life. And of course, precious few of these fugues and exercises have ever been recorded, so much of this will be new to listeners.

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                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

The great challenge in completing the sketches has been to feel one’s way into the emotional states of these sketches.

In some cases the emotions are pretty obvious, in other cases not at all. It is wrong to think that if you just rake together some notes you get melodies expressing wonderful things, and that is certainly not always the case in the Beethoven sketches.

You have to be able to recognize the synergetic effects between the notes, and then become aware of the emotional charge of these effects. This is essentially the same way I work on my own melodies in their early stages. However, in the case of Beethoven the additional challenge is to get emotional states that are at his level (while in my own work I have, in principle, the right to go for whatever trivialities I choose). Sometimes small changes in the notes are required to get any synergetic effects at all, which is then considered controversial by those who do not understand how these things work. By the way, recognizing the synergetic effects was in the old days loosely referred to as having an ear for melody.

Once you know the emotional charge, then things will come together, and what has to be done at the technical level becomes obvious. The technical issues are trivial compared to the first stage, but can still be quite challenging. Of course a lot can be said about these issues, but going into that would be somewhat beyond the scope of this interview. Anyone who is interested should write to us at the Unheard Beethoven, and we will discuss it there.

3. A fundamental part of your project is also dedicated to the Seldom-Heard Beethoven, an important reference tool for any musician interested in the music by Beethoven. In fact, while now the Complete Mozart Edition has two great monumental products as reference, which are both easily available to anyone, the old Complete Beethoven Edition 1997 (Deutsche Grammophon) and the following projects by other classical music record labels are neither easily available nor so complete, after all. Can you trace out a state-of-the-art about the recordings of Beethoven’s works and their availability?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

It’s correct that the Complete Beethoven Edition of 1997, while it was good, was woefully incomplete and now it’s long out of print and can be quite expensive to acquire (not to mention that it was never cheap in the first place; I paid close to a thousand dollars for it the first week it came out, but I was ecstatic to be able to do so since it offered the first more or less complete recording of the folksongs and many other items that were never before recorded, so for that we owe Deutsche Grammophon a great deal of thanks).

Much of the slack since that now twenty-years-old set has been picked up by Brilliant Classics, which has had at least three different versions of its Beethoven Edition box over the years, which not only covers much of the ground that DG had done for a tenth of the price, but has also added new recordings. Their set of the confusing Italian part-songs Beethoven wrote for Salieri is to date the best, and is more or less complete; they also have added the very first complete recording of the lied Der Bardengeist WoO 142, previously available only in badly truncated and incomplete recordings.

There was also an inexpensive complete set of CDs from Cascade Records that had a number of problems (missing the first bar of the First Symphony being but one of them), and we understand that a number of licensors never were paid. But it also includes as of this writing the only commercial release of Erlkönig WoO 131 (in Reinhold Becker’s completion, not our version that adheres more closely to Beethoven’s continuity draft).

Over the years we have also been pleased to be a resource to boutique labels such as Monument Records from Washington DC, and Inedita Records from Italy. Both catalogues are sadly now slowly going out of print, but between them they released a great many Beethoven works that had never been recorded. So they are an important resource for collectors as well.

There was also a recording of never-before recorded orchestral works, including some realizations by Willem, made by Stefan Sanderling and the Orchestre de Bretagne for the ASV label. Unfortunately, just before it was released ASV fell into financial trouble and it never came out…

… My understanding is that Universal Music (which now owns DG, Decca, Philips and other labels) now controls the ASV catalogue, so perhaps we will see that CD someday. I’ve heard it and it’s quite wonderful; it’s really a loss that Universal hasn’t seen fit to do anything with it.

Given that Beethoven’s 250th birthday is coming up in the year 2020, I feel confident that we can expect some major releases from various labels.

I’d like to hope we see a truly comprehensive megabox of Beethoven along the lines of the splendid Mozart 225 box from DG/Decca released last year.

In fact, we have been contacted by one label (I don’t know that we are at liberty to specify which) to try to help them make the most complete release possible of Beethoven’s works, and we’re excited at the opportunity. If we are able to do that and make The Unheard Beethoven unnecessary, then I for one will be overjoyed that we’ve succeeded in our mission.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

I’m afraid that my only contribution to the Seldom-Heard-Beethoven page has been to encourage Mark to go ahead with an update, at a moment he was doubting whether it was worth the effort.

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4. You have established a long collaboration with the Ira F. Brilliant Beethoven Center at San Jose State University. Since both Mozart and Beethoven were great improvisers, many of their sketches of music were material for actual improvisation and so for what were, in reality, complete full-length performances. It is a fact that the work carried out by Constanze Mozart and her collaborators, the Abbé Stadler, in particular, after 1791, was also intended to make many works by Mozart, just left in fragments, available again for performance. Your project seems to have had the same target and to have carried on a sort of work, no-one actually did for Beethoven,… as, instead, Constanze and the others had done for Mozart. What have been the interest of modern composers and conductors in your work of collecting Beethoven’s fragments in this particular way? How many completion works have you published? How is it possible to receive a performing score for those completion works? And, in conclusion, what’s the actual situation of the 10th Symphony today, after so many attempts of reconstruction?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

This is really a better question for Willem since he does the heavy lifting for the reconstructions and realizations; I’ve dabbled with it a little but he has a unique ability to see the sketches through Beethoven’s eyes and at the same time use his own imagination within the constraints of the classical style and Beethoven’s compositional attitudes to come up with completions and realizations that are both convincing and true to the spirit of Beethoven.

One of the projects we have had ongoing for some years is related to an improvisation that Beethoven did as a teenager in Bonn against the chant of the Lamentations of Jeremiah during Holy Week. His sketches for that still survive and we’ve made several attempts at getting them into a performing state, but they really point out just how harmonically adventurous Beethoven could be. In that particular instance, as Wegeler relates the tale, the young Beethoven asked the tenor who was engaged to sing the Lamentations whether he minded if Ludwig attempted to throw him off with his harmonizations. The tenor, not realizing who he was dealing with, laughed and told the boy to try his best. That evening, as the tenor began singing, Ludwig went into the most wild and outrageous harmonizations and soon the tenor was red-faced and spluttering with rage. After he complained to the Elector, Beethoven received a gentle chiding not to do that again to their guests.

In any event, once we have that in a workable form it will really open some eyes as to what Beethoven’s imagination was capable of. I’d like to see that put into finished form within the next two years, before the 250th birthday.

We’ve also hosted completions by others, one of the most important being Nicholas Cook’s performing edition of the first movement of the incomplete Piano Concerto No. 6 in D, Hess 15 (not to be confused with the piano concerto arrangement by Beethoven of the Violin Concerto Op.61, which is sometimes referred to as Piano Concerto No. 6). That completion had a brief bit of notoriety, and then seemed to have vanished until we found Cook’s journal article. We contacted Dr. Cook for a copy of the score, which he generously provided, and put it on the website, where I’m pleased to say it has generated some interest and resulted in its being recorded on the Inedita Records label by Robert Diem Tigani with Maurizio Paciarello on piano.

Some notable names such as Slatkin, Sanderling, Tigani, Steven Beck, the Covington String Quartet and others as noted have been willing to give these realizations a chance, and for that we’re grateful.

They’re obviously not Beethoven, but they do give us an insight into what Beethoven was thinking.

The Tenth Symphony is something we haven’t tackled, although there are quite a few sketches extant, and as you say a number of versions, Barry Cooper’s being the best known. We also have on the website two different composers’ attempts at a realization of the symphony, which differ vastly from each other and from Cooper’s efforts. Given the quality of Cooper’s realization, we’re content to keep that on the back burner and concentrate on pieces that haven’t seen the light of day… But the differences of opinion as to where the composer was going to go with the piece are pretty startling to say the least.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

Of course, the completion of Mozart’s Requiem by Süssmayr was critized by a certain Gottfried Weber in the 1820s. He said: «Wouldn’t it be terrible if we mistook a stupidity by Süssmayr for a stroke of genius by Mozart? And wouldn’t we then look foolish?». His weakness was, obviously, that he, for one, couldn’t tell the difference, because otherwise there is no need to worry. Abbé Stadler wrote several articles defending Süssmayr’s completion, and Beethoven wrote a letter to Stadler, saying that he fully agreed with him.

From modern composers of the old Avantgarde school the reaction has ranged from total indifference, to hostility at best.

The younger generation is more interested.

But their problem is that their education is conforming them to the 20th century paradigm, so they are not sure whether they are allowed to take an interest.

Many sense that what they are looking for can be found by us, but often they are still a bit scared. I hope that I’ve been able to teach some of them things of value, and point them in the right direction.

You can get performing scores by asking us for it. If an edition for the requested piece doesn’t exist, we will produce one.

However, I’ll do it only under the strict condition that you understand that you perform a completion because of its own intrinsic merits, and place the performance or recording in the context of the 21st century. We cannot go back to an imaginary 18th or 19th century, nor should we want to, but these fundamental values ought to be revived in our era.

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5. If it is possible to add a few words on this subject… After all, you well know that, beside the intricate Requiem affair and also thanks to the letters of Constanze, we are aware of the fact that she tried, in many occasions, to have Mozart’s scores back into a performance version… and sometimes trying to relying on the memories of those who heard the actual performance or who played the parts. That’s why modern scholarship has some suspicion also on a few masterpieces by Mozart: some Horn concertos, for example, and even the Clarinet Concerto K. 622 may be objects of some suspicion (see, in particular, Benjamin Perl, The Doubtful Authenticity of Mozart’s Horn Concerto K. 412, and Mozart Studies 2006, editor Simon P. Keefe, passim). So are they real completed compositions by Mozart or performance editions reconstructed by his friends and collaborators? And, beside Constanze’s problem with money and after so many years of much praising on such pieces, can we really really say that Constanze was really wrong in wishing such masterpieces to be in a completed performance form, instead of leaving such works as not usable and useless sketches on paper?…

It’s really an interesting subject, which requires much consideration…

Moreover we know that in classical music a culture of sketches completion and music reelaboration always existed and has been always part of the musical common practice. Apart from the variations technique and the improvisation fugues on themes or sketches, just consider Hummel’s famous own arrangements of Mozart’s works (sometimes trying to render an idea of an actual musical performance which was a bit different from the written score), the musical paraphrases and all those pieces of music which can be called transfiguration works (see MozartCircle Interviews July 2017)…

                                            ____________

Your favourite work by Beethoven, by Mozart, by J. Haydn.

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

My favourite work by Beethoven tends to change from time to time; it’s usually one of the Third Symphony, the Waldstein sonata op.53, Rage over a Lost Penny op.128, or the Appassionata op.57. Others frequently in the running are the string trio op.3, Piano Concerto No. 3, the Violin sonata No. 5 Spring, and the Coriolan Overture. Today it’s the Waldstein. You might get a different answer tomorrow.

I’m similarly undecided about Haydn. Any of the London symphonies could qualify at one time or another. I’m a big fan of his The Creation and The Seasons as well. I love his string quartets en masse and would have a difficult time picking one of them. But I think today’s answer is the trumpet concerto.

With Mozart, the answer is easy. As much as I love Beethoven, Mozart’s Ave verum corpus K.618 is the most sublimely beautiful and perfect piece of music ever written by anyone, anywhere, any time, ever. The music Mozart wrote just before he died is so amazing that one dearly wishes he had managed to hang on for at least another year to see what else he would do.

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                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

Of course, there is no answer to this question: these guys wrote so many works of the highest quality, that it would be something of an insult to pick just one out. So, I will not do that, and instead mention some works I’ve recently been going through, and point out the details that impressed me.

For Beethoven, I’d like to mention his Sonatas Op. 2. They are really good, and I consider them unsurpassed by anyone in the 19th century (let alone 20th century) in the handling of the structures. Listen to the finale of Op. 2 No. 2 in A. Do note how exaggerated the arpeggio is with which it opens, followed by a fall of more than an octave in the melody. Yes, it is elegant and charming, but the effect is that of making someone a compliment which is somewhat over the top, and may therefore be ironic, and border on the insulting. At each repeat the exaggerations become worse and worse, which then result in the explosion of the middle section. Did the recipient of our compliment notice the insults? So we have here a subtle balance between elegance and humor, which is delightful, and I don’t think there are many other pieces playing a similar game.

A Mozart piece I admire greatly, is his Fugue in C minor, KV. 426 (=KV.546). It is chockablock with all sorts of canons, which makes this piece an intellectual tour de force. But even more important is that, beyond the intellectualism, every bar is filled with deep emotion. Truly the greatest fugue since Bach. It seems that many Mozart fans do not particularly care for this piece, but to fully appreciate his genius, one has to be aware of this other side of his… dark emotions and frightfully intellectual.

Haydn plays a fine joke at the end of the slow movement of his Symphony  No. 97; he is clearly imitating a steam engine! It starts slowly, then picks up speed. You can hear the safety valves (flutes), and some sort of brakes which are very noisy when the engine comes to a slow stop. Haydn must have met a good many industrialists in London, who made their money with their industrial steam engines in their factories, so they will have been very pleased with this joke.

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6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

Leopold Kozeluch would be a good candidate.

Over the years quite a few of his compositions have been misattributed to Beethoven. Anyone who can confuse the musicologists that badly as to being the composer of a Beethoven-quality work has to be worth reconsidering.

I’d also like to see Luigi Cherubini reevaluated. He was one of Beethoven’s few contemporaries that Ludwig actually respected and admired, and that has to count for something. There was a recording of Cherubini’s string quartets by Hausmusik London that’s just spectacularly good. His opera Medea/Medée has managed to stay alive thanks in large part to the classic performances of the title role by Maria Callas, and the overture sounds like it could be a Beethoven composition. I’d like to hear a lot more from him. Maybe it’s time for The Unheard Cherubini if The Unheard Beethoven becomes superfluous at some point.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

Well, of course I could mention Méhul, who was a transition figure from the classical to the romantic era, like Beethoven, but totally independent from him.

His overtures and symphonies are really intriguing, like La Chasse du Jeune Henri. He is master of good melody, which gives his music great authenticity, although his melodies seem dryer than, say, Mozart’s: perhaps not quite capable to express the full range of human emotions.

Staging a complete Méhul opera may therefore be a good idea, but given the said limitation of his melody, it may not be an entirely enjoyable experience (but I love to be proven wrong here, I haven’t seen any of the scores).

Also, some of his libretti are really bad, with nothing happening at all, as one critic puts it. Mozart was very lucky with his Da Ponte. (Or perhaps Da Ponte became Da Ponte thanks to Mozart).

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7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

Beethoven’s String Trio Op.3 doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

It’s really a remarkable piece that even more than the Opus 1 Trios and Opus 2 Piano Sonatas announces to the world that music has changed forever, and you had better deal with it.

In it I hear the seeds of the Romantic era, quite clearly being planted.

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                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

Charles Avison (1707-1790) arranged a selection Scarlatti Sonatas into 12 Concerti Grossi. Roy Goodman, with the Brandenburg Consort, did a fantastic job recording these concerti, back in the 90s, I think. These works, in this arrangement, are to me just as enjoyable as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Handel’s 12 Concerti Grossi Op.6. I hope that some violinists will make them part of their repertoire, and start performing them regularly. It may also be a smart career move for them.

HOWEVER, I must say that this giving thumbs up for this or that composer, or this or that composition from the 18th century, might be a good occasion for further rethinking our relationship with our own contemporary classical music… I mean… that for our spiritual nutrition we are apparently depending on these composers of a previous era. This dependency might be a bit shameful (or helpful? See, infra, my considerations on Charles Rosen’s books), because… well, does it demonstrate that, probably, we are no longer able to create this vital quality ourselves?

You see, in the 18th (and 19th) century music emotion and intellect went hand in hand, indeed, strengthening each other. What I mean is that by the late 20th century, intellect and emotion have become separated quite rigorously; the so-called serious music has become almost exclusively intellectual, to the detriment of the emotional states, while in pop-music any form of intelligence has been removed, allowing for only the most childish emotions. This signifies a deep collective neurosis.

And it should be clear to anyone who is slightly aware of this complex, that part of the solution is to be found in the work of those composers and artists, who are trying to bring about a reconciliation of these psychological functions.

This restoration of the balance should help raise the emotional state of the planet, and possibly start curing the collective neurosis: the unwanted heritage of the last century.

The 21st century has begun. Luckily some have already made the transition, but still too many haven’t.

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

Jan Swafford’s 2014 biography, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph to me has some of the most original thinking on Beethoven that we’ve seen since Thayer.

His discussion of the intellectual background of Neefe, Beethoven’s first teacher, his enormous influence on Beethoven’s worldview lays a convincing and expansive foundation for understanding Beethoven’s work.

I know Willem is a huge fan of Charles Rosen’s writings in The Classical Style so I’ll leave that one to him.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

As Mark said, I find Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style and Sonata Forms essential for any deeper understanding of this period.

However, the issues in these books go well beyond merely understanding that period, since they are, to me, highly important for the regeneration of the classical style in the 21st century.

First, you must realize that structure in music, as in poetry, is part of the content: it matters not only WHAT you say, but also HOW you say it.

This is somewhat analogous to how in physics space and time are intertwined. There is a big difference in the handling of the form by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and the masters of late Romantic era.

In the first decades of the 20st century, the form had become, if you want, a vehicle to express mainly an obsession with death, as if announcing its own demise, which did of course occur at that time.

That, while in the hands of the classical masters the form had been full of vitality, buzzing with energy, expressing a wide range of different emotions in a single piece. Moving from one emotional state to another gave the composers the power to continuously refresh and renew the music.

Indeed, this magical property can be heard as a spiritual fountain of eternal youth. Mozart and Beethoven are the great masters of this magic.

So what had happened in those 120 years, going from eternal youth to death? The official music history tells us that this was a century of continuous progress: composers got better at everything all the time, better at harmony, better at orchestration, better at melody…. (oh, ooops!). Obviously there is something wrong with this narrative…

The books by Charles Rosen are a good first step in reaching a more objective and balanced understanding of this process. First we must know how the masters of the first Viennese school actually understood their own forms, as opposed to how these were perceived by later composers and critics. Only then we can see how in a series of little steps, which by themselves may have been pretty harmless, gradually the original understanding evaporated. Only then are we free to make our own decisions on these matters, a fact which is of vital importance for the new music.

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9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

That’s pretty difficult since so many movies tend to romanticize or worse fantasize impossible and ridiculous things onto the screen (such as the wretched Immortal Beloved, which wastes Gary Oldman’s fine performance on a stupid and obviously wrong solution to the mysterious riddle, or the thoroughly execrable Copying Beethoven). I’m willing to cut some slack for Amadeus because it’s forthrightly a fictional treatment of the story (as told through the memories/delusions of the aged and demented Salieri) and it’s a gorgeous film; nevertheless I can’t in any way recommend it as improving the comprehension of the music of the classical period.

The one film that I think captures the music of the period is the BBC production entitled Eroica (2003), depicting the rehearsals for the first performance of the Third Symphony. I think it does as well as possible at giving a glimpse of what the situation must have been like, and to my knowledge it’s more or less accurate. That the music is provided by John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique is a wonderful bonus. The performances are first-rate, and it’s quite absorbing from start to finish, so it has my vote.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

I agree with Mark that the 2003 BBC movie Eroica is the best. The guy who wrote the script did actually investigate his subject! Wow, that really makes a difference.

I used to like Amadeus, but now I find the depiction of Mozart as some punk idiot quite intolerable. Something far better should be possible.

Another movie, which is not about this period, but nevertheless good, is Delius, Song of Summer, by Ken Russell, from 1966. It is about the collaboration between Eric Fenby and Frederick Delius. In his last years Delius was paralyzed and blind, and could no longer work. A young music student, Fenby, offers his services to help Delius finishing his last works. The film is important because of its authenticity: it is based on the book Fenby later wrote, and he was also involved in the production of the movie. One high point in the movie is when Fenby turns on the radio, which is playing Beethoven’s Fifth. Delius then starts a diatribe: Listen my boy, scales, arpeggios! Fillings, my boy, fillings, don’t bother your young head about symphonies! Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler and that lot with their long driveling note-spinnings! A complete waste of time. A few bars of sincerely felt original music is worth whole pages of that kind of drivel. Throw it away! Forget the immortals! I finished with them years ago!

It should be obvious what is going on here: a minor master ridicules his great predecessors, in order to make himself appear more important, at least in his own eyes.

If he had merely said that he, Delius, was unable to produce anything of value with Beethoven’s technical means, then that would have been a correct and objective statement.

He is also correct in that one has to distance oneself from the great masters in order to find the space for one’s own creativity. But his emotions show that we are dealing here with a neurosis… Also, it should be pointed out that this defence mechanism has been used throughout the 20th century, endlessly repeated by many in all sorts of forms, aimed at whatever demi-god that had gone under their skin… This way much of the deeper understanding has disappeared from our culture.

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10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

                                          Mark S. Zimmer

I’ve never been to Vienna myself, but I have to think that would be the one place. Between Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert etc. etc. etc. there’s something about that place that makes it a fertile ground like none other. I’d like to get there, as well as to Bonn, some day.

                                            ____________

                                         Willem Holsbergen

Yes, the scores of the great masters.

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.+++

CD Spotlight December 2017: Rosetti Concertos for Two Horns

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Concertos for Two Horns

The Series of Concertos
for Horns by Rosetti acquired
a certain notoriety
for their beautiful quality
and because Mozart noticed them
and used a few of them as models
for his own Horn Concertos.

Klaus Wallendorf & Sarah Willis
Johannes Moesus
Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie
CPO Records

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Interview November 2017: 10 Questions with P. Martos Lozano (English)

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Pablo Martos Lozano: Official Sites
Pablo Martos Lozano Site: Pablo Martos Lozano
Pablo Martos Lozano: Garnati Ensemble
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (LinkedIn)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (Twitter)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (Facebook)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (YouTube)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Garnati Ensemble (Twitter)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Alberto Martos Lozano

Pablo Martos Lozano: CD Albums
Pablo Martos Lozano: Sony Classical: Haydn Violin & Cello Concertos
Pablo Martos Lozano: Sony Classical: J.S.Bach – The Goldberg Variations


1. This year 2017 you have released a marvellous Album CD with your performance of two Violin Concertos by Joseph Haydn: the Violin Concerto Hob. VIIa:4 in G Major & the Violin Concerto Hob.VIIa:1 in C Major. What led you to produce such CD with music by Haydn? What is your relationship with J. Haydn’s music and what attracts you most about his music? What has been your experience during the recording sessions?

There are many reasons behind this decision on Haydn.

And all these reasons just lead to the name of this absolute great Austrian master of music composition: Joseph Haydn.

The first reason, so, was the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada itself: it has a great reputation and prestige and especially in the classical repertoire. It is not a large-sized orchestra and, thank to this, it usually works on a repertoire typical of the classical period orchestras, that’s to say the music written in the 18th century. In its repertoire it has many works of the Baroque era, even though it is not a Period-Instruments Orchestra.

Then the maestro Antoni Ros Marbà is highly revered for his interpretations of Haydn’s music. If you put together all these elements, you already understand that the final result of this type of collaboration was just going to be highly interesting and that we could say certain things, by even breaking some clichés and all this beyond some immutable positions of certain schools of interpretation.

In conclusion, just add my typical curiosity for those repertoires which you very rarely find in concert halls.

The fact that Mozart had written his own marvellous violin concertos, on the other hand, generated the problem that his talent and his name were going to outshine those of the other composers of his era, both in the same music composition category and also in other more peculiar situations.

I adore those composers who managed to create some bridges between different forms of language. And sometimes such different types of style or of language were brought to excellence by composers who then became very famous for their works. And I am really interested in considering how a certain type of creation received its own birth in its most intimate manner. It is a special type of process which some of my favourite composers managed to master in a fundamental manner, thanks to their genius, a thing which made them great throughout the centuries in the field of musical creation.

This peculiar relationship among these different spheres (curiosity, admiration and love) led me to decide to start this project on Haydn’s violin concertos.

I can clearly see that there are so many recordings featuring the violin concertos by W. A. Mozart. And, exactly for this reason, I think that the concertos by J. Haydn, which have just few recordings, allow a musician to say something new with them and about them, through their interpretation and performance. Moreover, in that very moment, during the recording of these violin concertos, I felt that I could add my own contribution, exactly on the very special way I could say something new.

So my experience, during the recording of Haydn, was of great joy and pleasure.

During the sessions of preparation and the daily practice, I continuously tried various improvisations in the phrasing, in the articulations and ornamentations… In this way I maintained in myself that freshness of intention even much vivider… the very reason for recording this marvellous CD with Haydn’s violin concertos.

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2. You had already produced a critically acclaimed Album CD with a transcription of J.S. Bach’s The Goldberg Variations for string trio and you are a well known Bach violin interpreter. What do you think of the evolution of violin writing and treatment in musical composition from Bach to Haydn and Mozart up to Brahms? Haydn wrote his violin concertos in his youth in the 1760s, Mozart his own concertos nearly 10 years later in 1775: what the differences between the concertos of these two composers?

Throughout history, from Bach to Brahms, violin writing has evolved so much and also the methods of writing and composition of the great composers evolved so much.

I think that the evolution of violin writing itself really took place, when the various composers invented new ways of treating that instrument. I can say even that sometimes those composers just worked, it seems, by deliberately forgetting what had been written for the violin beforehand.

A great example is the music by Bach itself. In his Sonatas & Partitas the polyphonic treatment is far superior to any other work written by the great famous Baroque virtuosos, like Biber. The difference is given by the fact that Bach works on the independence and the absolute development of all the voices in a way, which we can call complete, and all this on an instrument like the violin. From this we understand that, in that period, this type of music was somehow more on a intellectual level than on a more practical one. When I started studying the Baroque violin, I was shocked when I realized that Bach’s Sonata & Partitas so rarely appear in the repertoire and in the normal practice of the specialists of Baroque.

And, please, do not forget that his Brandenburg Concertos was really too demanding for the violinists of that period!

And, about his Sonatas & Partitas, they are de facto the only Baroque a solo you play practically only on a romantic violin!

Pablo Martos plays Bach’s Sarabande,
Partita II in D minor BWV 1004

Mozart’s treatment of the violin in his concertos is exactly identical to the treatment of the voice of an opera singer. When the violin plays, it is always in the foreground and more and more it acquires the dimension of various different characters of an opera. The fundamental difference with the violin concertos written by Haydn is due to the fact that in Haydn’s concertos we find clear reminiscences of the Baroque Concerto Grosso. In our version we want the violin to often play as if part of the tutti and that only at certain given moments its sound resurfaces and emerges as a solo, and especially when the writing of thorough bass allows all this. I like recreating that special sonority of Corelli’s Concerti Grossi during the performance of Haydn’s violin concertos. And I adore Haydn’s superior command in writing any sort of ornamentations, imitating thus the Italian opera style. It is a thing of magnificent beauty! And this is due also to the fact that the first violin concerto was written by Haydn for one the most important violin virtuosos in history: Luigi Tomasini. In fact, the first violin concerto by Haydn features really great virtuoso and demanding parts, for its passages extremely high and rapid.

If we put together all the qualities of the violin concertos written by Mozart and by Haydn, we’ll discover the essence of what will be, a few years later, the great romantic concerto. Just create a much heavier orchestration, add a pizzicato to the left hand and some harmonics and you’ll have the typical writing of Paganini.

In Brahms’s concerto the violin writing receives some changes and evolves in a way that allows the violin to have a more penetrating and wider sound. And all this makes the competing of the violin with the typical grandeur of a grand orchestra possible. The overwhelming and voluminous sonority generated by Brahms with his orchestra is far superior and requires some adjustments. But, I say, the lyric essence itself of the violin as instrument remains immutable and unchanged throughout history.

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3. You have studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and with Yehudi Menuhin and then you have worked with Barenboim. How these three different fundamental experiences have enriched your life, as an artist and as a person?

They are just three completely different points of view.

I studied with Reinhard Goebel in Salzburg and I learnt to play and treat a very peculiar and rather different type of instrument: the Baroque violin. Moreover he well knew how to transmit all his passion for the original sources. His teachings and his words were always fundamental on how we are craftsmen ready to serve the music and accurately try to investigate the techniques of music interpretation and performance of composers such as Corelli and Vivaldi. It was a type of work rich of genuineness and exciting. In this way, in fact, I had the possibility of studying the many fundamental rules of that period to be used to correctly interpret and perform the music written by Mozart and by Bach. And what I liked the most of all is that I learnt, at the same time, how to use our own energy, passion, vitality and artistic strength during a music performance, by using those very rules in a creative manner and so that the technical discourse led to a practical performance and was not left on a pure intellectual level: you must obey this and this, just because the treatises say that and nothing else… because this is exactly the worst thing which may happen.

Just on the opposite side we find Yehudi Menuhin, the descendant of an ancestry of romantic virtuosos. The sound of Menuhin was immensely expressive. I was not lucky enough to regularly work with him, but, as long as we worked together, I learnt how important tension is in the musical form. For example, how we must organize the energy and the sources of tension in a 13 minutes piece, like Bach’s Chaconne for violin solo.

The performance of the short pieces which are parts of that work by Bach was carried on with a great sense of liberty and especially through an accurate perception of one’s own intuitions. Such concept is difficult to explain, because it is not directly tangible, however this is a fundamental point you must master, if you want to build a really moving performance.

From Daniel Barenboim I learnt how to systematize their various aspects of music, by considering them as a whole. All the arts have a fundamental unity and are the fruit of the thought and of the human soul in every moment of our life. If we didn’t live that philosophical thought which permeates us, we would not have anything to say. The music must be not only beautiful, but it must be a sort of container for something greater. The real content of our artistic expression must be a sort of militancy and commitment to something superior to the pure creation of something just beautiful.

When Beethoven wrote his music, he was not just doing some abstract exercise, he was not just building chains of chords in a way only a man of absolute genius can do, but that very writing in Beethoven was just an instrument to cry loud what the human beings have to do in this world, when they come to life. And this is to live within our own community and to have the capability of going beyond the pure present time, through a sort of transcendence. In this way, the Prehistoric painters started drawing animals on the walls of their caverns and, in this way, Michelangelo showed us, through his Cappella Sistina, that our reality is just the reflection of something more profound, like the truest essence of every human being, among the other things.

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4. In 2005 you have founded with your brother, the cellist Alberto Martos, the Garnati Ensemble and then in 2013 you were the artistic director of the Garnati concert series in Granada. How and why did you decide to found your Ensemble and what have been the challenges and the accomplishments, you experienced during your activities as an Ensemble and as an artistic director? What your future targets and projects, both as a soloist and as member of your Ensemble? You  also give masterclasses: so what do you think it is your very first advice to young violinists?

We think that Chamber Music is one the most inextinguishable sources both of the musical enjoyment and of musical experimentation.

Of all my creative processes curiosity is the most important creative process. So we wanted to know how the most representative works in the History of Chamber Music would have sounded, once in our hands. We wanted to give voice to all those many composer, who, due to various circumstances, can’t have that voice they should have.

Our Garnati Ensemble gives us the possibility of investigating and of entering new universes, without the necessity of organizing a huge production frame with all those difficulties of time and money, that such types of productions always imply.

We had the possibility of performing a new daring transcription of Bach’sGoldberg Variations, of giving the premiere performances of the trios by Conrado del Campo, just magnificent music forgotten in a drawer for 100 years.

Moreover we are lucky enough to have contemporary composers who write new music for us. So we can work with them side by side, we can test the various sonorities and sometimes we also give some advice to them. This creates a fertile terrain to maintain one’s own spirit always high and always moved by curiosity. Curiosity, which, even though properly fed, becomes even more insatiable.

My main target is to maintain this sort of mental image and to keep working, by following this direction. Among my future projects, as a soloist, there is a series of performances and of recordings of the Sonatas & Partitas by Bach. I can say the same about the music by Niccolo Paganini. But I wanted to show a lesser know aspect of that Italian genius… So far, I can say that surprise is an art on its own and hence I want to work on it in the correct manner!

Pablo Martos plays Bach’s Allemande,
Partita II in D minor BWV 1004

Because I do really hope to impress my audience with my future projects, as I impress myself, when I am working on their creation. And I do really want to raise the desire of being curious in all those who live a direct encounter with my works.

One of our future projects, as Ensemble Garnati, I can say, it has something to do with the concept of The complete works by Mozart. And I can say only this at this moment… because I must stop, since I already see a major beautiful surprise over there…!
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To all those students, who want to be real musicians, I want to say: just venture out, by following the path of music, exactly as Don Quixote de la Mancha ventured out, with all his strength, into his own adventures. With humility, but with courage. They must listen to and read, with great attention and curiosity, all that they find, by following their own artistic path.

These are fundamental trails and fundamental steps. The most important thing is not to be too attached to some particular target, because I think that a real target does never exist; what really matters, is to proceed following one’s artistic and life path with a strong sense of genuineness and sincerity.

They must learn from their teachers, even if afterwards they will decide not to follow their teachings any more: it is important, in fact, to always ask oneself why and investigate the inner reasons of the many things one encounters in his life. They must listen to the reasons of their teachers, but, at a certain point, they must investigate the questions by themselves and find an answer on their own.

But this process must never be carried on with arrogance or as inspired with a vain self-confidence. It must be carried on through a laborious daily work and through a restless research, which will clearly show what really effectively works for one’s own sphere of sensibility. This is a way to see what is better for me or for you etc., when you must decide how to interpret music, how to play music and how to write music.

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5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

It’s simply impossible for me to name just one work by one of these two composers. And I can’t say all their works, either.

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I adore the atmosphere of mystery of the beginning of the Dissonance Quartet by Mozart. And then the naivety and the tenderness of his first Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard…

And what about the extraordinary strength of his Symphony No. 39 and then his Requiem…

All his works are and each of them are a world by itself and Mozart is so a prolific a composer and one of the things I find more fascinating about him is that he is totally incapable of restraining his creativity when he wants his melodies to fully unfold… even though sometimes, in its musical form, the discourse does not seem to follow any special path, Mozart suddenly must add one of that most beautiful melodies by him, as soon as that flashes in his mind! This thing happens continuously and I find it really amusing!

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I admire the craftsmanship of Haydn, his rigour and how wisely he uses little tricks in his scores just to demonstrate that nothing is always so predictable as we may sometimes expect. I have played many violin, cello and piano trios written by him… And then I find his violin concertos as products of great elegance and by a man of absolute genius. The nakedness, which the soloist sometimes has to face, made his works for violin really demanding and of a superior beauty. Despite some Baroque characteristics of these works, their inner musical spirit just strongly prevails and I think, in conclusion, that they really represent those rays of the light of the joie de vivre typical of the Age of the Enlightenment.

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6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

Unfortunately there are too many of them…

The Quartets by Manuel Canales are very beautiful and special, they have a peculiar language typical of them only and also so distinctive for that era.

I adore this period of the History of Music, when I find composers who are full of Italian spirit. We got into the habit of associating this period of the History of Music only with Mozart or Haydn. But I adore, for example, the music written by Pietro Nardini. You hear the classicism in his music very well and I like how it features that typical Italian virtuoso style, so that it reminds me of the musical motives written by Vivaldi or by Locatelli.

José Herrando is also a great Spanish composer, who wrote a beautiful collection of Sonatas for violin and thorough bass. In this case, the thorough bass is performed by a cello solo (and not through a figured bass). This creates a peculiar situation: the bass sounds, to a modern listerner, somehow as less full than a thorough bass with harpsichord. Therefore these Sonatas will appear to us in all their beauty as full of imagination and fascinating, as long as you listen to them, by living this experience with an ear well aware of the historical period.

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7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

The violin concertos by Nardini. In fact, they have a structure similar to that of the violin concertos by Haydn, but with phrases and ornamentation all’italiana. I have always loved the virtuoso treatment typical of the Italian instrumental music.

I adore also the Violin Concerto No. 2 in A major by Joseph Bologne,Chevalier de Saint George. I must say that his violin concertos are really magnificent and fascinating. I think that, if people just better knew the life of the Chevalier de Saint George, they would be more attracted and interested by the curiosity of listening to his music. It seems just incredible that this man is the very first western classical composer of African ancestry. He was the son of an African slave woman and of a French soldier who lived on the islands of the Carribean Sea. He was also a dancer and a champion fencer. His music is lively, full of life and so brilliant with its marvellous melodies.

And I can say the same also for the Violin Concerto in G major by Jan Jiři Benda. It’s a marvellous concerto, featuring so many beautiful phrases.

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

There are two fundamental books which I consider essential to comprehend both the spirit and the form of the act of building music in the 18th century. They are the treatise by Leopold Mozart and the treatise on the art of flute by J.J. Quantz.

In the book by Quantz we can find all the elements for a correct performance and interpretation of the music by Bach. My teacher Reinhald Goebel assured that, starting with the Chapter XI or XII (I don’t remember well…), as soon as the part on the flute was already strictly treated, what was written was written for Pisendel, a great violinist of that era, who was in a close relationship to Bach. If you practically follow what you read in the book by Quantz and use it, when interpreting Bach, you’ll discover that Bach’s music will become easier in the very act of its performance and it will have more life and rhythm.

The treatise by Leopold Mozart is also very useful, even though my conclusions on it are that, in the end, you must play music with a good taste and by following the parameters of that era. In fact, L. Mozart is very insistent on the type of bowing and on the type of fingering you must use during the various situations you have to face. However, I think that such instructions are not very practical and efficient today with the modern bow and on a modern violin. It’s a very different type of instrument and the tension of the strings and the resistance of the instrument itself make certain proposals by L. Mozart not very practicable, but, instead, to know such instructions by L. Mozart is really essential, because a performer must interpret their real inner intentions and then must find a way to transpose, so to say, them on the bow and string instruments on which he must play, to get the real spirit of L. Mozart’s instructions.

These two books have been very inspiring during the sessions of recording for my recent CD on Haydn, even though I had to take some liberty, as I was saying, because I was recording Haydn not on a period instrument and also the orchestra was not a period instrument orchestra. I used my own cadences and Quantz writes, in his treatise, how important such behaviour of using his own cadences is.

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9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Unfortunately I know just few films or documentaries which really treat the music of this era in a very specific manner. I mean, the characters with a real box-office appeal (just to use a term typical of the world of cinema jokingly), and who belonged to that period of time, were mainly Mozart and then Haydn.

Therefore I think that other great moments of the History of Music did not receive that type of attention or study they really deserved, both at cinema and in the field of the documentary production. How beautiful it would be to see, in a good documentary, the very act of gestation and birth of the classical style in music with the children of Bach or with that School of Mannheim, which so impressed Mozart.

Nonetheless, and even though it is not a film on music, yes, I have the title of a film, which always moves me in a very special manner. It is Barry Lyndon by Kubrick.

It is a film set in the 18th century and its soundtrack is really marvellous: from that Handel’s piece, performed with such romantic passion, up to theAndante of the Trio in E-flat Major by Schubert.

I think that, considered as a whole, the film is a really good narration of the type of life and of environments within which the great composers of that period used to live. And it is for this reason that it can help us in the comprehension of that particular moment of History and of its art production.

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10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

I think that in that period a visit to Salzburg, Mannheim or Paris was fundamental to better comprehend what was going on in the world of music. To visit such places will be always a beautiful experience, still today, and especially to seek, so to say, talismans for admiration.

But I don’t think that a physical place, today, if seen as a destination of a pilgrimage for musicians is that important. I don’t think that a place can cause the infusion of a superior knowledge, superior to that particular emotion you can feel, instead, by finding yourself before the very violin of Mozart and so on.

In fact, I think that music is something far superior to that pure sensorial experience, implied by staying exactly in that physical place or by visiting it.

The legacy left by Mozart or by Haydn de facto transcends any dimension of place and even any dimension of time.

As a matter of fact, their language is so universal that it really finds its own right and truest position in our profound interiority and accompanies us there, wherever we are going. What will really draw us nearer to the essence of such language, is just to deeply study the scores and to have a good knowledge of the literature which can explain and illuminate that historical period.

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

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Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

Entrevista Noviembre 2017: 10 Preguntas con P. Martos Lozano (Español)

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Pablo Martos Lozano: Sitios Oficiales
Pablo Martos Lozano Sitio: Pablo Martos Lozano
Pablo Martos Lozano: Garnati Ensemble
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (LinkedIn)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (Twitter)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (Facebook)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Pablo Martos Lozano (YouTube)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Garnati Ensemble (Twitter)
Pablo Martos Lozano: Alberto Martos Lozano

Pablo Martos Lozano: CD Albums
Pablo Martos Lozano: Sony Classical: Haydn Violin & Cello Concertos
Pablo Martos Lozano: Sony Classical: J.S.Bach – The Goldberg Variations


1. En este año 2017, has publicado un maravilloso álbum con la interpretación de los dos Conciertos para Violín de Haydn; el Concerto Hob. VIIa:4 en Sol Mayor y el Concierto Hob.VIIa:1 en Do Mayor. ¿Que te llevó a grabar este disco con la música de Haydn? ¿Cuál es tu relación con la música de Haydn y que te atrajo más sobre esta música? ¿Cuál fue tu experiencia durante la grabación?

Hubo bastantes motivos que formaron parte de esta decisión.

Todos ellos apuntaron a la vez a la increíble figura del compositor austriaco. El primero de ellos es que la Orquesta Ciudad de Granada tiene un prestigio labrado durante años especialmente en el repertorio del clasicismo. Se trata de una orquesta que no es de gran plantilla. Y debido a su estructura, ha trabajado frecuentemente el repertorio de plantilla clásica que precisamente suele coincidir con la música que se escribió en el siglo XVIII.

También es frecuente ver en sus programas un extenso repertorio del Barroco, pero no se trata en principio de una orquesta historicista con instrumentos de época.

Por otro lado el maestro Antoni Ros Marbà es muy respetado por sus interpretaciones de Haydn. La simbiosis de todos estos elementos ya prometia que el resultado podía ser interesante y podía tener algo que decir fuera de los clichés o escuelas interpretativas más inmoviles.

A todo ello se sumo mi curiosidad por los repertorios que menos se ponen en escena. El que Mozart escribiera sus maravillosos conciertos de violín, ocasionó el problema de que su talento y nombre eclipsara otras músicas de la época en ocasiones de igual categoría y a veces incluso más peculiares.

Siempre me fascinaron los compositores que crearon puentes entre los distintos lenguajes. Aunque en ocasiones estos estilos o lenguajes fueran culminados por autores que han llegado a ser muy célebres. Siempre me intereso el como se gestó la creación de la forma más íntima. Y es en este proceso donde son fundamentales algunos de mis autores favoritos por su genialidad e importancia a lo largo de la historia de la creación musical.

Esta relación de curiosidad, admiración y amor fue decisiva para embarcarme en el trabajo de estos conciertos.

Admiro mucho bastantes grabaciones de los conciertos de violín de W.A.Mozart, sin embargo pienso que los conciertos de J.Haydn al haber sido grabados menos, dejan margen a nuevas formas de decir cosas en ellos e interpretarlos. En el preciso instante de la grabación, sentí que podía aportar algo en el como decirlos.

Mi experiencia durante la grabación fue de alegría y disfrute.

Durante la preparación y práctica diaria realizaba improvisaciones en el fraseo, articulaciones, y ornamentaciónes. Trate de mantener la frescura que ello me aportó al proceso de grabación.

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2. Ya produjiste un CD con una transcripción para trío de cuerdas de las Variaciones Goldberg de Bach que ha sido aclamado por la crítica y eres un conocido intérprete de la música de Bach. ¿Qué piensas de la evolución tanto musical como de la escritura para violín de Bach hasta Brahms? Haydn escribió sus conciertos en su juventud en 1760 y Mozart en 1775, casi 10 años más tarde. ¿Cual es la diferencia entre los conciertos para violín de ambos compositores?

A lo largo de la historia, desde Bach hasta Brahms, la escritura violinística ha evolucionado mucho, tanto como los métodos de escritura y composición de los grandes autores.

Creo que la evolución en sí de la escritura viene cuando cada autor inventó una nueva forma de tratar el instrumento. Yo diría que en ocasiones olvidándose por completo de cómo se había escrito para el instrumento hasta aquel momento.

Un claro ejemplo es la música de Bach. En la Sonatas y Partidas, el tratamiento polifónico es muy superior al de otros de mano de grandes virtuosos barrocos como Biber. La diferencia está en que Bach llega a trabajar la independencia y desarrollo absoluto de todas las voces al completo en un instrumento como el violín. Haciendo que para la época esta música perteneciera más a un plano intelectual que práctico. Cuando empecé a estudiar violín barroco me sorprendí de lo poco frecuente que son las Sonatas y Partitas en el repertorio y en los escenarios de especialista barrocos.

¡No hay que olvidar que los Conciertos de Brandemburgo eran demasiado difíciles para los violinistas de la época !

Cuando las Sonatas y Partitas es casi lo único barroco a sólo que se toca en el violín romántico.

Pablo Martos toca Bach Sarabande,
Partita II in D minor BWV 1004

El tratamiento que Mozart hace del violín en sus conciertos es exactamente igual que el de un cantante de ópera. Cuando el violín participa, está en un primer plano en todo momento y va adoptando el carácter de los distintos personajes de una ópera. La diferencia fundamental con los conciertos de violín de Haydn reside en que en estos, hay grandes reminiscencias del Concerto Grosso barroco. En nuestra versión intentamos que el violín se fundiera a menudo con los tuttis y que sólo resaltara en los momentos concretos, ya que así lo piden en su escritura de bajo continuo. Me gusta recrear la sonoridad de los conciertos grosos de Corelli en los conciertos de Haydn. También me parece magistral el como Haydn escribe adornos y floreros imitando el estilo operístico italiano. Me parece de una tremenda belleza. Esto también se debe a que el primer concierto fue escrito para uno de los virtuosos más grandes de todos los tiempos Luigi Tomasini. De hecho el primer concierto para violín tiene un virtuosismo extremo debido a sus pasajes extremadamente agudos y veloces.

Si fundimos todas las cualidades de los conciertos de Mozart y Haydn, conforman la esencia de lo que será más adelante el gran concierto romántico. Tan sólo hay que añadir un poco de peso en la orquestación, pizzicatos de mano izquierda y armónicos para encontrarnos con la escritura de Paganini.

En el concierto de Brahms la escritura violinistica se modifica y evoluciona un poco para que el instrumento tengo un sonido más pesado y amplio. Haciendo así posible el competir con la magistral y gran orquestación. El volumen sonoro que Brahms genera con la orquesta es superior y ello requiere adaptaciones. Pero como digo, la esencia lírica del violín permanece en todo su trayecto a lo largo de la historia.

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3. Has estudiado en el Mozarteum de Salzburgo, con Yehudi Menuhin y más tarde has trabajado con Barenboim. ¿Como estas tres diferentes experiencias fundamentales han enriquecido tu vida como artista y persona?

Hablamos de tres ángulos muy diferentes.

De Reinhard Goebel, en Salzburgo, aprendí a conocer otro instrumento diferente, el violín barroco. Y el supo transmitirme el amor a las fuentes originales. Me pareció precioso el sentir que somos artesanos que están aquí para servir a la música y el tratar de investigar con diligencia como interpretaban los mismísimos Corelli o Vivaldi. Me pareció un trabajo muy honesto y apasionante. Conocí muchas de las reglas que eran imprescindibles en la época para interpretar a Mozart o Bach. Y lo que más me gustó era como transmitir toda nuestra energía, pasión, vitalidad y fuerza artística usando esas reglas y no quedándonos en un plano intelectual en el que sólo intentamos ser obedientes haciendo lo que dicen los tratados y nada más. Esto es lo peor que puede ocurrir.

En el polo opuesto podríamos encontrar a Yehudi Menuhin, quien viene de una tradición de virtuosos románticos. Su sonido era de una expresividad inmensa. No tuve la suerte de trabajar regularmente con él, pero en lo que trabajamos, aprendí la importancia de la tensión en la forma musical. Como hemos de organizar la energía y las fuentes de tensión a lo largo de una pieza de 13 minutos como la Ciaccona para violín solo de Bach. Pero la realización de las pequeñas piezas que conforman la obra, se hacían con gran libertad y ante todo sabiendo escuchar a la intuición. Algo que no es tangible y es difícil de explicar, pero fundamental para poder crear una interpretación emocionante.

De Daniel Barenboim aprendí a sistematizar el aspecto más holístico de la música. Todas las artes están unidas y son fruto del pensamiento y alma humana de cada momento de la historia. No tendremos nada que decir si no vivimos intensamente el pensamiento filosófico que nos ocupa. Esto nos lleva a que la música no ha de ser únicamente bella, debe ser el contenedor de algo más grande. El auténtico contenido a de ser una militancia y un compromiso con algo más que la creación de algo bello.

Beethoven no escribía música para hacer ejercicios abstractos, ni por enlazar acordes de una forma ingeniosa, esto sólo era una herramienta para gritar con fuerza lo que el ser humano ha venido hacer en este mundo. Y es vivir en comunidad y trascender a nuestro presente de la misma forma que los pintores de la prehistoria dibujaban animales en las cavernas o Miguel Angel nos mostraba en la capilla Sistina que nuestra realidad sólo es un reflejo de algo más profundo, como la esencia auténtica del hombre entre otras cosas.

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4. En el año 2005 fundaste con tu hermano el violonchelista Alberto Martos Garnati Ensemble, y el 2013 fuiste director artístico de la serie de conciertos Garnati en Granada. ¿Por qué decidiste fundar Garnati Ensemble y cuales erán los retos de ello y de la serie de conciertos como director artístico? Cuál es son tus futuros objetivos y proyectos como solista y como músico de Garnati Ensemble. También das clases magistrales, cuál es tu principal consejo para los jóvenes músicos.

Creemos que la música de cámara es una de las fuentes más inagotables de disfrute y experimentación musical.

En todos mis procesos creativos, la curiosidad es lo más importante. Queríamos saber cómo sonaban en nuestras manos las obras más representativas de la historia de la música de cámara y paralelamente queríamos dar voz a muchos autores que por diversas circunstancias no suenan todo lo que debieran.

Garnati Ensemble siempre nos permite investigar y adentrarnos en universos nuevos sin necesidad de tener que organizar una gran producción con todas las dificultades de tiempo y dinero que ello conlleva.

Hemos podido interpretar una transcripción atrevida de las Variaciones Goldberg, estrenar los tríos de Conrado del Campo, se trata de una gran música que ha estado 100 años guardada en un cajón. Además, tenemos la gran suerte de que autores actuales escriban música para nosotros. Tenemos la oportunidad de trabajar con ellos codo a codo probando las distintas sonoridades y en ocasiones haciendo sugerencias. Todo ello genera un caldo de cultivo perfecto para mantener en todo momento el alma viva e inquieta con la curiosidad. Curiosidad que aunque se vaya alimentando, cada vez es más insaciable.

Mi principal objetivo es mantener esta ilusión y seguir trabajando en esta línea. Mis próximos proyectos solistas son las actuaciones y grabaciones de las Sonatas y Partidas de Bach e igualmente con la música de Niccolo Paganini. Pero trataré de mostrar una faceta bastante desconocida del genio italiano, hasta aquí puedo decir ya que la sorpresa es un arte en sí y ¡quiero intentar trabajarla también!

Pablo Martos toca Bach Allemande,
Partita II in D minor BWV 1004

Espero sorprender con mis próximo proyectos tal y como yo me sorprendo cuando estoy trabajando en ellos. Y deseo generar curiosidad y a quien encuentre mis trabajos.

Uno de los próximos proyectos de Garnati Ensemble esta relacionado con la obra completa de Mozart. Y sólo hasta aquí puedo decir también.. (Una alegre sorpresa más nos espera…)

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A los alumnos que quieran ser músicos de verdad, les diría que se aventuren en ello tal y como Don Quijote de la Mancha aventuraba sus andanzas. Con humildad pero con coraje. Escuchando y leyendo con la máxima atención y curiosidad todas las historias que hay por el camino.

Son pistas fundamentales. Lo importante no es llegar a ninguna meta porque creo que ésta no existe, sólo hacer el camino con la máxima autenticidad posible.

Que aprendan de los grandes maestros aunque más adelante para nada les hagan caso en todo, ya que lo importante está en que ellos se pregunte el porque de cada cosa. Que escuchen las justificaciones de cada maestro y que una vez vivan e investiguen la pregunta, den su propia respuesta.

Esto no ha de estar nunca basado en la arrogancia o en la vanal confianza en sí mismo, sino en el trabajo diario y en la búsqueda inquieta que demuestra claramente qué es lo que funciona mejor en la sensibilidad de cada uno. Es una forma para ver cuál es la mejor forma para cada uno de interpretar o escribir música.

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5. Su obra favorita de Mozart y su obra favorita de J. Haydn.

Me es absolutamente imposible decir una sola obra favorita de cada uno de los autores. Tampoco lo son todas, la verdad.

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Me encanta el misterio con el que empieza el cuarteto disonancias de Mozart. La ingenuidad y ternura de las tempranas sonatas para violín y piano…

Sobrecogedora la fuerza de la Sinfonía número 39, y no digamos delRequiem

Cada obra es un mundo y siendo Mozart un autor prolífico, una de las cosas que más me fascina es su incontinencia a la hora de exponer melodías… aunque en ocasiones, en la forma musical no proceda, ¡él no puede evitar insertar una bellísima melodía que se le acaba de ocurrir! ¡Esto le pasa continuamente y me parece divertidísimo!

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De Haydn me fascina su artesanía, rigor y como hace conscientemente pequeñas travesuras en sus partituras para mostrarnos que nada es tan predecible como a veces esperamos. He interpretado mucho sus tríos para piano, violín y violonchelo. Y los conciertos de violín me parecen de una elegancia y genialidad absoluta, la desnudez ante la que se encuentra el solista algunas veces hacen que sean de gran dificultad pero también de una extremada belleza. A pesar de sus características barrocas, el espíritu da un giro y para mi simbolizan la alegría de vivir propia del Siglo de las luces.

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6. ¿Tienes en mente algún compositor del siglo XVIII que sea un poco desconocido y que te gustaría que estuviera en el lugar que merece por su alta calidad?

Desafortunadamente demasiados.

Los cuartetos de Manuel Canales son muy especiales, tienen un lenguaje propio aunque claramente marcado por esta época.

También me encanta este periodo de la música cuando encuentro autores con un aire italianizante. Estamos muy acostumbrado a asociar este periodo a Mozart o Haydn. Me gusta mucho la música de Pietro Nardini. Se siente muy bien el clasicismo en ella y me gusta como está sazonada con el virtuosismo italiano que me recuerdan los motivos vivaldianos o de Locatelli.
José Herrando también es un gran autor español con una bella colección de Sonatas para violín y bajo continuo. En este caso, el bajo continuo está realizado para un violonchelo sólo (Sin cifrado). Esto hace que al oído moderno nos suene menos lleno que un bajo continuo con clavecín y algo más, pero a pesar de ello y si te pones a sentir a vivir la experiencia con un oído de la época, resultan imaginativos y fascinantes.

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7. Nombra una obra musical del siglo XVIII que te gustaría que fuera interpretada en concierto con más frecuencia.

Los Conciertos para Violín de Nardini. Tienen una estructura parecida a los Haydn pero con unas frases y ornamentos a la italiana. Siempre me gustó el tratamiento virtuoso de la música instrumental italiana.

De Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint George me encanta el Concierto Op. 5 nº2 en La Mayor para violín. En realidad sus conciertos me parecen fascinantes. Creo que si la gente supiera más sobre su vida tendrían más curiosidad por escuchar su música. Me parece increíble que fuera el primer compositor occidental con ascendencia africana. Fue hijo de una esclava africana y un militar francés en las islas del Caribe. Además fue bailarín y maestro de esgrima. Su música tiene una vitalidad y un ingenio en la melodía maravillosa.

Algo parecido pasa con el Concierto para violín en Sol Mayor de Jan Jiří Benda. Es una joya maravillosa llena de bellas frases.

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8. ¿Has leído algún libro en particular sobre la época de Mozart que consideres importante para la comprensión de la música de su periodo?

Hay dos libros fundamentales que considero imprescindible para entender el espíritu y la forma de construir música en el siglo XVIII. Son los Tratado de Leopold Mozart y el tratado de flauta de J.J. Quantz.

En el de Quantz tenemos todos los elementos para interpretar correctamente la música de Bach. Mi maestro Reinhald Goebel aseguraba que a partir del capítulo XI o XII (no recuerdo bien…), cuando se acababa la parte de Flauta, estaba escrita por Pisendel, un gran violinista de la época que estuvo en cercano contacto con Bach. Si se aplica esta lectura a su música veremos que es más fácil tocarla y tiene más vida y ritmo…

El tratado de Leopold Mozart también es muy útil aunque mi conclusión es que al final debes hacer sonar la música con buen gusto y acorde a los parámetros de la época. L.Mozart insiste mucho en los tipos de arcadas y digitaciones que hemos de emplear en las distintas situaciones, sin embargo yo considero que esto no es aplicable eficientemente hoy día al arco y violín actual. Sencillamente se trata de un instrumento diferente en el que la tensión de las cuerdas y la resistencia que ofrece el instrumento no hace viable todas las propuestas de L. Mozart, pero es imprescindible conocerlas para que cada uno traduzca estas intenciones al instrumento cuerdas y arco con el que pretende hacer la interpretación.

Fueron una gran inspiración para mi grabación de Haydn, aunque me permití bastantes libertades, ya que grabé con un instrumento no historico, al igual que la orquesta. Incluí mis propias cadencias y Quantz habla en su tratado de la importancia de hacerlo así.

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9. Nombre una película o un documental que pueda mejorar la comprensión de la música de este período.

Desgraciadamente conozco pocas películas o documentales que traten específicamente sobre la música en este periodo. Como digo, los personajes más taquilleros (por emplear jocosamente el término que se utiliza en el cine) de la época en el ámbito musical, eran principalmente Mozart y después Haydn.

Por eso creo que no se han llevado al cine o al campo documental con la insistencia que merecen otros grandes momentos de la música. Que interesante sería ver en un cuidado documental la gestación del estilo clásico con los hijos de Bach, o la escuela de Mannheim que tanto impresionó a Mozart.

Sin embargo y a pesar de que no se trata una película sobre música, sí que hay un título que me conmueve especialmente. Se trata de Barry Lyndon de Kubrick.

Está ambientada en el siglo XVIII y la banda sonora es impresionante, desde música de Haendel interpretada con pasión romántica hasta el Andante delTrío en mi bemol mayor de Schubert. Creo que narra muy bien el tipo de vida y ambientes que los grandes compositores de la época vivieron. Y por ello nos puede ayudar bastante entender su momento y su arte.

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10. ¿Cree usted que hay un lugar especial que resultara crucial en la evolución de la música del siglo XVIII?

Creo que en la época fue imprescindible visitar Salzburgo, Mannheim o París para entender qué es lo que estaba ocurriendo en el mundo musical. Siempre resultará agradable visitar hoy día estos lugares en busca de fetiches para ser admirados.

Pero no creo en un lugar físico hoy día como destino de peregrinación para los músicos. No creo en un lugar que nos infunda un conocimiento más lejos de la emoción que podamos sentir al estar ante el violín del mismo Mozart o algo así.

Creo que la música es algo mucho más grande que la pura experiencia sensorial de estar o visitar un lugar físico.

La herencia que nos dejaron Mozart o Haydn transciende a todos los lugares incluso a todos los tiempos.

Es un lenguaje tan universal que verdaderamente habita en nuestro interior y nos acompaña allá donde vayamos. Lo que verdaderamente nos acercará a su esencia es estudiar con profundidad la partitura y conocer la literatura que nos explica esta época.

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Muchas gracias por haber tomado el tiempo para responder a nuestras preguntas!

Gracias!

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Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle.Todos los derechos reservados.
La iconografía está en público dominio o en fair use.

CD Spotlight November 2017: Dittersdorf Complete Works For Solo Double Bass

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Complete Works for Double Bass

The Works for Double Bass
by Dittersdorf were written in 1760s
for the Double Bass virtuoso
Pichelberger. Such works
are well known for being technically
demanding (with the viola part
penned by Dittersdorf for himself).
The two concertos were used
by Haydn’s bassist Sperger
at the Esterházy Orchestra
and mainly survived for this reason.

Dittersdorf was on friendly
terms with Mozart & Haydn & they
used his Symphonies
& Oratorios as Style reference.

Leon Bosch & Robert Smissen
Kenneth Sillito
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Meridian Records

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