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Interview June 2017: 10 Questions with R. Maeder

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Rebekka Maeder: Official Sites
Rebekka Maeder Official Site: Rebekka Maeder
Rebekka Maeder: Rebekka Maeder (LinkedIn)
Rebekka Maeder: Rebekka Maeder (Facebook)
Rebekka Maeder: Novocanto Ensemble
Rebekka Maeder: Novocanto Ensemble (Facebook)

Rebekka Maeder Coloratura Soprano:
Next Concerts
10-11-18 June 2017: Haydn – St.Cecilia Mass
8 July 2017: Mozart – Così Fan Tutte
16-17 September 2017: Mozart program concert
4-5 November 2017: Schubert Mass in E Flat (Bern)


1. International Soprano with a vast and varied repertoire (from Bach, Handel up to Mendelsshon, Offenbach, Ravel and Leonard Bernstein), through the years you have been building a really impressive Mozartian repertoire: 5 Mozart’s operas, 8 masses, Davidde penitente and many other Sacred Music Works by him. What attracted and what attracts you the most in Mozart’s music? What Mozartian opera character do you like the most of those you have interpreted? And why? What Sacred music Vocal part do you like the most of the many Mozartian Sacred Works you have interpreted? And why?

The compositions of Mozart are simply the product of an unrivalled genius.

He knew exactly how to deal with the human voice… how he had to write for each character in order to make it possible for the singer to show all the colours and all that necessary diversification that not only effectively builds the character but also makes the character well defined and interesting. Moreover, the orchestration is written by Mozart in a very clever way, so that it never arrives to an excess of demand from the singer. Personally, I do really love the elegance of Mozart’s melodies and how he musically builds up the characters in his Operas.

The characters in Mozart’s operas, which I have interpreted so far, with the exception of the Queen of the Night, show some similarities: young, adult ladies of nobility, confronted with the themes of love, loyalty and betrayal.

Mozart’s operas are mostly about the emotional entanglements with which the aristocratic population has to deal with in everyday’s life: love and fidelity, desire and adventure, power and resignation.

Therefore, a decision about my favourite Mozartian character is not easy at all… you see, it much depends on the profundity of a character and on the actual musical part, as well.

Of course, the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute) has such a special value and such an intrinsic charm of its own: the great concentration of emotions, the high drama and also the vocal technical challenge… And all this must happen on stage and in music in a very short time… she has 3 shows in the whole opera: 2 arias of approx. 4min each and an ensemble at the end. Within these short periods, all these characterizing factors must perfectly emerge from your interpretation. This challenge is always a motive of great enchantment and it is always such a great joy to accomplish your performance of this character.

On the other hand, the Queen of the Night, as a drama character, has not an actual evolution nor a distinct development within the opera. If we consider this point of view, I must say I do prefer the character of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Such character really leaves enough room for the development of the various different facets, not only on a theatrical level but also, and principally, on a pure musical level.

In the field of sacred music, I love the Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor in a special manner.

The enchanting Soprano solo Et incarnatus est represents a great and, at the same time, a marvellous challenge to the singer, when you are demanded to completely merge intimacy and virtuosity through your own performance.

Moreover, in general, the Mass itself is a very delightful masterpiece for the soprano. There are even two of them, who are also ingeniously combined firstly in a duetto, and then with the tenor in a terzetto.

This mass is so marvellously permeated with an outstanding dimension of love and spirituality (and all this with a stylistic variety that is, at the same time, so harmoniously forged into an art product of such a pure and elevated unity), that it deeply touches the audience as well as the interpreter.

Rebekka Maeder sings Mozart, Mass in C Minor K427, Et incarnatus est.

Rebekka Maeder sings Mozart, The Magic Flute, Der Hölle Rache.

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2. In your Repertoire you have also many works by Joseph Haydn: The Creation, The Seasons and 5 Masses. What kind of interest led you to his music? What are your considerations on Haydn’s vocal parts in his masses and in his oratorios?

Haydn’s music is a great playing field for me as a singer!

I love his strong, sometimes even impetuous temperament, the freshness and playfulness of his compositions.

Sometimes arias are written in a way, that really recalls the Lied or Song technique, and can have a very catchy, almost folkish tone, but then… they can be highly virtuosic again.

His musical talent can achieve also such striking high levels of pictorial dimension.

An extraordinary example of this is his work The Creation in which his compositional mastery really stands out in all its glorious might… just not to mention that magnificent musical conception of chaos at the very beginning of his work.

Haydn really manages to break the rigid forms of baroque oratorios… and in such a pioneering way!

In The Creation he also shows his great talent in tone painting!

Each voice of nature finds its clear imitation in the sounds of the orchestra and also in the vocal parts: from the rays of the sun to the foaming waves of the sea, to the lions and the doves, etc.

All this is so so extremely interesting, if we consider the form of art itself!

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3. In your repertoire, apart from Handel’s works and Beethoven’s works, you have many important composers of the second half of the 18th century/beginning 19th century. Among them we remember Mozart’s friend and mentor Josef Myslivecek, Mozart’s and Haydn’s great pupil Hummel with his masses, the brother of Haydn and Mozart’s friend M. Haydn and also Gossec. What can you tell us about your interest in these composers and in their music? What led you to add them to your repertoire and which one of them do you consider the most interesting composer?

My musical interest is concentrated mainly on the epochs of classical music and romanticism.

As a freelance musician I have free choice on the works I sing, of course. I can decide whether the work or the composer irritates me or not.

Nevertheless, usually the theatres and conductors are those who make their first choice, as far as the composer and the work are concerned… and this gives me the lucky opportunity to know and sing music works, which I just did not know.

Moreover, it is fundamental to me also to decide whether the piece fits my voice or not.

In general, however, I think it is important to have as much diversification as possible in my choices and not to limit myself to interpreting only the great and well-known composers and works.

This alone arouses my interest, especially when we are considering composers of these epochs and when such composers, like Myslivecek, are also well associated with Mozart. This connection, not only in terms of teachers and pupils, but also friendships and competitions, often has a great influence on the composer’s musical work.

For me, it is in this very moment that music shows one of its most beautiful aspects: it unites people and people learn and grow together: the creators, the performers and the audience.

To explore what influences can be found in the music of Myslivecek, Hummel, Michael Haydn and Gossec has been and is of great interest to me.

And it is always exciting to discover how differently the composers have treated the human voice in their works.

Since these composers are very different one from the other, frankly I cannot say which one of them I consider the most interesting. You see, an important attitude for me is not to evaluate everything in life in a too sharp manner. It’s not just about what is now more meaningful and important, more intelligent, more virtuous, or more perfect. People are not perfect, in any respect. So I just try to grasp what I find in music, in terms of what is offered to be grasped, and I try to give it that meaning, the music itself wants and tries to express: sometimes this is really very much and of a complex nature, sometimes it is just simple and even, so to speak, casual.

In any case, I must say that, in particular, the works Abramo and Isacco by Myslivecek and also Gossec’s Grande messe des morts have been particularly touching to me.

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4. This year 2017 you are presenting Haydn’s St.Cecilia Mass (June), Mozart’s Così fan tutte (May-July), a full Mozartian program (September) and a Schubert Mass in November plus masses by Mozart (April) and Scarlatti (March) and Schumann and Mendelssohn. You also collaborate with various projects and ensembles and you are also a regular guest at various Music Festivals. So what can you tell us about your current and future projects? And what your suggestions to young singers who want to build a repertoire on MozartEra music?

I like the diversity and the constant new discoveries in the field of music.

I do not have to move across all the epochs, but I choose, where my voice and my heart lead me mostly.

I enjoy being able to make opera and operetta and sacred music with choir and orchestra, as well as chamber music.

Of course, concerts such as Haydn’s Cäcilienmesse, the Mendelssohn concerts in May and the Schubert Mass in November are impressive sonorous experiences, as they can fill a concert hall or a large church with a large orchestra and choir.

To make music with so many people is also a great accomplishment and it is also always so exciting to work with the different levels of the choirs… I mean, to work with professional musicians is an utterly different experience from working with non-professional choirs and often, when church music is involved, both experiences just incredibly meet each other.

Moreover the audience itself can be also so heterogeneous and of such a different nature. And this is a real challenge for the musician: to reach people, whether they are familiar with classical music or not.

And such considerations led me to work in projects like the Cosi fan tutte I’m presenting again in July: a chamber music version of the beautiful opera, tailored for the operatic lover as well as for the eyes and ears that are not familiar with the opera yet. The recitatives were replaced by the narrator Uwe Schönbeck, an outstanding and well-known actor in Switzerland and formerly a great and experienced singer who leads the audience through the opera and thus connects the musical numbers. This makes the opera much slimmer and more intelligible and it can also be easily financed and this in favour of smaller stages (a major subject in modern times not to be underestimated) and finally free the untrained listener from the fear of a visit at the opera house.

This variety of different works and performance platforms also offers great space for young singers to get acquainted with the repertoire of this time.

The vocal and artistic development of each young singer has its own pace and should be well reconciled with its possibilities. It must not be conducive to singing the most difficult and most complex works and roles too early and also the performance pressure should be handled with care.

So many young talents disappear, just because of a too much, so to say, because of too big stages and of a too heavy repertoire, which was forced.

Having a good mentor (or even several ones) who always has an eye and an ear on the singer is more than advisable. He can give good advice in the choice of roles and, above all, the necessary technical level. Internal and external growth should go hand in hand.

In contrast to later composers of the romantic period such as Strauss, Dvorak, Mahler, Verdi, Wagner, etc., the composers of the classical period seduce far less to an uncultivated and impetuous handling of the voices. The forms are more regular, the voice is somewhat less endangered.

Among the numerous works of classical music, however, there are also immense differences in the demands on the human voice. For example, it is advisable to choose, as a young soprano, the lighter voice parts (with Zerlina instead of Donna Elvira or with Blonde instead of Constanze), even if the voice shows already the potential for great drama.

Admittedly, sometimes the outside world does not seem to give a choice, but ultimately everyone decides more and more on his own voice.

If you are over-estimated it is actually easier to react, you can always cancel a job offer.

If a singer assumes too much too early, his ego is too great, or he has not dealt well enough with the part to be sung and has underestimated it (here an experienced consultant would be important).

If the singer does not take the step to accept or to apply for a role, although he is able to do so vocally, the ego, i.e. the inner growth, was not ready yet.

If one is underestimated, i.e. not being heard, this can have a reason which can be found in the very singer… the interior does not want to show itself, although it could. It is always a fundamental matter of balance.

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

Don Giovanni and The Creation.

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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?

I think Louis Spohr (1784-1859) is a very interesting composer.

Next year, one of his works The Saviour’s Last Hours will be performed.

Spohr is anything but unknown, his works range from opera, operetta, oratorios, drama music, songs, symphonies, chamber music to numerous violin concertos, however, despite the quantity and the quality of his works, he is rarely found in the concert or in opera agenda.

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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, especially thanks to your special experience as a MozartEra musician, performer and connoisseur.

For instance, Gossec’s Grande messe des morts or Hummel’s Mass in D Minor.

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8. Do you have in mind a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

For me, reading books is not the first choice when it comes to understanding the music.

I rather try to see how a composer has written the music; how he wrote my vocal parts and how he orchestrated them.

When I read books, I rather choose biographies or, even better, letters from the composers or from his contemporaries, as is in the case of Mozart.

Mozart’s letters are really wonderful to get an authentic impression of his world… They say a lot about the spirit of his time and about his own character.

 

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

BBC has produced a good number of interesting documentaries on Mozart; e.g. the chapter A Passion for the Stage from The Genius of Mozart (BBC Documentary).

And Amadeus is also a nice movie to get an impression of that time.

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1984, AMADEUS

10. Name a place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music.

Vienna is such a great place!

You cannot get around this city (fortunately), if you have to deal with the music of this century.

I have been there several times for masterclasses and sightseeing!

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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

 

 

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Interview May 2017: 10 Questions with P. McCreesh

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Paul McCreesh: Official Sites
Paul McCreesh Official Site: Paul McCreesh
Paul McCreesh Official Site: Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh: Deutsche Grammophon (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gulbekian (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Paul McCreesh Twitter (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gabrieli Consort & Players Facebook (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gabrieli Consort & Players Facebook (Twitter)
Paul McCreesh: Winged Lion Records (Official)

Paul McCreesh: CD Haydn The Seasons 1801
Paul McCreesh: CD Haydn The Creation
Paul McCreesh: CD Mozart Great Mass in C Minor

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1. Your newly released CD Album, Haydn The Seasons 1801, has reached #3 in the Specialist Classical Chart in few days. A magnificent reward for a long work by you, started in 2011, in particular with the accurate revision of the original «bad and unsingable» English libretto, and completed in 2016 for the album recording. Moreover, for this recording of The Seasons you have also prepared a new performing edition of Haydn’s score, which recreates the Viennese large-scale performances of Haydn’s own time, and so your recording of The Seasons can be considered de facto a world premiere for this Oratorio, since it’s the first recording featuring such spectacular (yet philological) large-scale forces. Can you tell us about the most crucial phases of preparation of the recording of The Seasons and about your most interesting decisions?

Yes, I suppose this project could be summed up as a «labour of love». I think if there is a top 10 of neglected masterpieces The Seasons is definitely up there towards the top; I consciously wanted to try to rehabilitate this work, which I think is every bit as great as The Creation.

Whilst Haydn performed with both pieces with large and small ensembles, certainly his best known performances took place in Vienna and used quite impressive forces. The standard ensemble included triple winds and double, or sometimes triple, brass as well as a large body of strings. There’s something particularly spectacular in hearing Haydn’s music with such large forces, and in a highly dramatic and pictorial work such as The Seasons, the added contrasts really help lift the music off the page. Whilst both Christopher Hogwood and I have recorded The Creation in this way, as you say, I think this is probably the first performance of The Seasons given in this style.

The Seasons was published in both German and English and although the German version is entirely passable the original English text is often comically inept, and I think this is a large part of the reason why The Seasons is rarely given outside of the German speaking world. Following my revisions on the similarly awkward text of The Creation, there seemed a golden opportunity to recreate a new English version of The Seasons which would hopefully win new friends to in the English speaking world. The text is entirely in 19th Century style, but it’s created specifically to match Haydn’s brilliant music and to present the singers and the audience with a version that brings them close to the world of Thomson’s original poem. I have revised this translation many times over the last 5 or 6 years; it’s really like an enormous crossword puzzle, but I have to say – if I’m allowed to – that I’m quite pleased with the final result.

Haydn, The Seasons 1801, Official Clip

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2. In 2008 you recorded and released a new edition of Haydn’s The Creation (Archiv Produktion). In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences in the music treatment of these two great oratorios by Haydn? And what do you think are the differences between these two oratorios and the third early oratorio by Haydn, Il Ritorno di Tobia 1775 (revised in 1784 and again in 1808)? As is well known, both van Swieten and Haydn were admirers of Handel and Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons, conceived after the two London Tours, were both written under the influence of Handel’s music. Moreover, in 1790s van Swieten, with the help of Mozart, managed to present a few masterpieces by Handel (i.e. Messiah, St. Cecilia) to the Viennese public in the famous new orchestration by Mozart. And this Viennese Handelianism exerted a great influence also on Beethoven.

They are of course brother and sister and one might almost view The Seasons as a sequel to The Creation.

The differences are that The Seasons has more secular feel, in that it describes the day to day lives of people within the newly-created world; although The Seasons is framed by choruses which praise God it nevertheless has a much more humanistic touch.

In fact both works might be viewed through the prism of a turn-of-the-century nostalgia, Haydn bidding an almost Hardyesque farewell to a world which was rapidly changing.

The relationship with Swieten is crucial in the genesis of both these works, but it was Haydn himself who sought to emulate the world of the great Handel, having heard his performances in London in the 1790s.

Of course the early oratorio Il Ritorno di Tobia is a very different type of oratorio, much more Italianate and with extremely extended arias – quite a world apart.

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HANDEL CDs (Paul McCreesh)
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 • Handel: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato 1740
Handel: Messiah (rel. 2011)
Handel: Arias (Villazón)
Handel: Saul
Handel: Theodora
Handel: Solomon
Handel: Messiah (rel. 1997)

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3. You have built a large discography for Deutsche Grammophon (ca. 43 albums). And, trough the years, you have recorded Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and then Berlioz, Mendelssohn up to Britten, Górecki, Ligeti and Pärt, creating thus a powerful trait d’union between the great Sacred Music tradition of Gabrieli and of the Venetian School and the Sacred Music of the contemporary composers of our days. What about your extraordinary musical journey?

The journey has been in two parts…

The early period when Gabrieli was largely focused on the earlier repertoire, and this appeared as part of a great relationship with Deutsche Grammophon.

More recent forays gave continuity in the field of later oratorio and a greater use of mixed repertoire programming on our choral CDs.

But there are still I think many threads of my musicianship that link all these projects.

But that’s for you to analyse!

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4. What’s the story behind the name of your Orchestra: Gabrieli Consort & Players? And what’s the story behind your record label, Winged Lion, a clear homage to the Venetian School? As a conductor/entrepreneur and scholar, which new project will see your forces involved in future? And what about your magnificent project Gabrieli Roar? What can you tell us about its origin, its vision, direction and structure?

No big story.

I just liked the music of the Gabrielis… and the opulence of Venetian repertoire seemed to match the ambition.

As for Winged Lion… It seemed an obvious marketing link.

I certainly answer to the description of conductor and entrepreneur – I certainly like to make projects happen!

I’ve never really regarded myself as a scholar beyond a generic interest to get under the skin of the music I conduct, which of course requires an engagement with the world of musicology and research.

My relationship with Worclaw, Wratslavia Cantans and the new National Forum of Music (NFM) has been one of the most important relationships in my life, and continues to develop with the NFM Choir, NFM Orchestra and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra.

I’m certainly keen to continue this relationship and create more projects.

As I get older I’m spending more time trying to do at least a little bit to redress the poverty of cultural educational opportunities for too many young people. Or to put it in another way, to broaden access to choral music and singing which is too often an activity of those form either private schools or upper social classes.

Roar is an exciting educational initiative which helps develop young choirs and encourages them to take part in performances alongside our professional artists; in particular I am passionate that the young people get the chance to connect with real core culture.

We don’t create special music for young people but we ask them to engage with the great choral repertoire of the last five centuries.

Too many people will tell you that classical music is irrelevant to young people; Roar proves this statement to be patronising nonsense.

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GABRIELI ROAR: Meet the Choirs (Paul McCreesh)
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The Choirs involved in the project Gabrieli Roar.

Bradford Catholic Youth Choir
 • Cantate
 • DRET Youth Choir
 • Hertfordshire County Youth Choir
Inner Voices
London Youth Choir
Taplow Youth Choir

Gabrieli Roar works with various partner youth choirs from across the UK, pairing each choir with a dedicated mentor who will visit them regularly to provide vocal training, assistance and support in other areas as required.

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

Mozart – I never tire of the last 3 symphonies, and likewise with Haydn the last two great oratorios are a constant source of delight and amazement.

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4. Which neglected composer of the 18th century may arouse your interest for possible future projects?

I’m not sure obscure 18th century music is so much of a priority for me, but I certainly still have a great interest in English 17th century composers from Humfrey Locke, Blow et alii.

Likewise I wish the commercial world would let the ensemble do more work in Schütz and the great German early 17th century sacred music.

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7. Mozart and Haydn have written many beautiful Vocal Works, which, unfortunately, are still rarely performed today and which are even almost unknown, which one arouses your interest?

I’ve loved the late Haydn masses, but also the earlier St. Cecilia mass – which I’ve never done – looks to be an extremely interesting work.

With Mozart I’ve often felt the sacred music, finely crafted though it is, rarely reaches anywhere near the level of inspiration of the great operas.

The truth is that making recordings in the current market is a huge loss-making activity however much critical success the recordings may enjoy.

So to be realistic there is very little chance of recording obscure repertoire.

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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?

The vast Haydn volumes of Robbins Landon still remain a wonderful resource.

One might often argue about the analysis but there is still a wealth of very interesting background information.

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9. For your concerts and your recordings, you have visited many different places with a great history and you have had so the special opportunity to work in such splendid locations. Which places and which occasions left the most enduring impressions on you, as a conductor and as an artist?

Too many to mention…

We’ve been honoured to play Bach in St. Thomas Leipzig, Gabrieli in San Rocco, Monteverdi in San Marco, Mendelssohn in Leipzig, Purcell in Stationer’s Hall.

But for the sheer thrill of rolling back the centuries I will always remember arriving in the timeless little town of Lerma in Castille in 2001 with a van load of new old music for the court there.

It was amazing to recreate the world of Spanish alternatim music in the glorious Collegiate church of San Pedro, with singers, wind band, string band and the church’s two magnificent c17 organs.

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Scuola Grande di San Rocco (Venice)

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

No one particular place although it is always of great interest to wander round historical buildings.

A visit to the great Haydn Eszterháza Palace is a must for any Haydn lover.

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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

 

Interview April 2017: 10 Questions with D. McCaldin

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Denis McCaldin: Official Sites
Denis McCaldin Official Site: Haydn Society of Great Britain
Denis McCaldin Official Site: Lancaster University
Denis McCaldin: Denis McCaldin LinkedIn (Official)
Denis McCaldin: Haydn Society Official Yahoo Group
Denis McCaldin: Haydn Society of Great Britain Twitter (Official)
Denis McCaldin: Haydn Society of Great Britain Facebook (Official)

Denis McCaldin: CD Haydn Nelson Mass
Denis McCaldin: CD Haydn Notturni & Scherzandi
Denis McCaldin: CD Haydn Little Organ Mass

haydnblueplaque


1. On 24 March 2017 we are going to celebrate the second anniversary of a real historic moment: the unveiling of the first ever London Haydn Blue Plaque dedicated to the great composer J. Haydn in 2015. The relation between Haydn and London is of such fundamental importance for the history of music, however, as strange it may sound, it has been really difficult to reach such an achievement. And thanks to your brilliant leadership, this tribute of London to Haydn and his music has been made finally possible. What can you tell us about the long path that led to the unveiling of Haydn Blue Plaque in 2015? What’s the story behind the Blue Plaque Campaign?

The Society began modestly enough when a few performers and fellow music-lovers got together to review the likely celebrations in the UK of the 250th anniversary in 1982 of the composer’s birth. Finding no obvious point of co-ordination, they decided to form a Society to assist the celebrations and «with the principal aim of promoting a wider knowledge and understanding of the music of Joseph Haydn and his contemporaries». The group initially included the Delme String Quartet, Denis McCaldin (the present Director), Stephen Plaistow (BBC Radio 3), the composer Robert Simpson, and Erik Smith (record producer).

To sustain interest in the coming celebrations, the Society organised a Haydn Festival of Chamber Music in the summer of 1980 at Wigmore Hall in London. From July 1st – 10th, ten concerts, consisting entirely of works by the composer were given on consecutive evenings by the Pro Arte and Delme String Quartets, the Esterhazy Baryton Trio and individual guest soloists. A subsequent review in The Strad by Tim Alps raised the wider question of Haydn’s commercial appeal that still applies today:

«If it were not for the dedicated and enterprising Haydn Society of Great Britain it seems unlikely that an event such as the Haydn Festival of Chamber Music, which monopolised the Wigmore Hall for the first ten days of July would ever get off the ground. For despite Haydn’s unassailable position amongst the most venerable greats the fact remains, and it was borne out by the attendance at the concerts I sampled, that at the box office Haydn cannot compete with Mozart or Beethoven.»

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Among the Society’s early supporters were Reginald Barrett-Ayres, Antal Dorati, Karl Geiringer, Antony van Hoboken and H.C. Robbins Landon, all of whom served on the initial Committee of Honour.

In 1992 the Newsletter was upgraded to a Journal, and in this format that we have since published papers by a number of distinguished colleagues including Colin Lawson, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Emmanuel Hurwitz, Otto Biba and Richard Wigmore.

The bicentenary of Haydn’s death in 2009 prompted celebrations of his music world-wide.

In particular, the Society became more closely associated with the Haydn Festspiele Eisenstadt through the invitation of its director Dr. Walter Reicher.

In partnership with the British Library, the Society also mounted a two-day international conference in London entitled Joseph Haydn and the Business of Music. A collection of the papers given at the time has since been published as a book entitled The Land of Opportunity – Joseph Haydn and Britain (The British Library Publishing Division, 2013).

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As well as concerts and conferences the Society has also released several recordings on Meridian and Divine Art.

The Society’s most recent initiative has been to campaign for a memorial plaque in London. As long ago as 2002, negotiations began with Westminster City Council to site a plaque in Bury Street, where the composer resided during his second visit to London in 1794-1795.

More recently exploration and negotiation in Soho has led to agreement for a plaque to be established at 18, Great Pulteney Street. The plaque was unveiled there as a memorial to Haydn by Sir Neville Marriner on 24th March 2015. A video record of the event can be seen on the Haydn Society website at www.haydnsocietyofgb.co.uk.

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It is good that such a memorial should be in London, a city where Haydn was admired and loved, and where he himself spent some of his happiest years.

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THE HAYDN BLUE PLAQUE UNVEILING – 24 MARCH 2015
LONDON – 18, GREAT PULTENEY STREET
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Video of the plaque unveiling, produced by The Haydn Society of Great Britain. Additional footage courtesy of Christopher Foster-Hicklin. Audio courtesy of the BBC. Photographs by Iona Wolff. The complete gallery is available at www.haydnsocietyofgb.co.uk.

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2. Many people supported your initiative and campaign for the London Haydn Blue Plaque and your work has been also supported by many friends and collaborators. Do you want to remember someone in particular and especially for the commitment to the Haydn Blue Plaque Campaign?

Rather as in Bach’s day, when musical skills were passed down through the generations, my daughter Clare and her partner Cheyney Kent contributed the most in terms of energy and commitment. (see McCaldin Arts.com and her project Haydn’s London Ladies).

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3. Thanks to your activity as director, the Haydn Society of Great Britain has always promoted the diffusion of the music by Joseph Haydn, also through events and media (BBC Radio 3), since 1982, as you have previously indicated, and, recently, also through a constant web presence. And what about your future plans?

Amongst other projects, we have been invited to collaborate with King’s College, London University to design an innovative course for music students using IT to explore aspects of Haydn’s life in England.

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4. As Haydn Society of Great Britain, you have also conducted an interesting survey among scholars, Haydn advocates and enthusiasts and people in general about the attractiveness of Haydn’s music and the possible reasons for its comparative neglect. What are the conclusions of your survey so far?

We have discovered that the accessibility of Haydn’s music can be deceptive.

In schools, the apparent simplicity of some of the music and the programmatic stories attached, as in the Clock, and Surprise symphonies, means that the music is often treated as an introduction to classical music, rather than on the same level as other great works of the period.

The idea of Papa Haydn dies hard, and once established in a child’s memory, there is tendency for thoughts about both the man and his music to be permanently associated with immaturity and pre-adult life.

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5. After the death of her husband, Constanze Mozart somehow acted as the high priestess of the cult of Mozart and, in this way, preserved Mozart’s legacy and promoted his myth. Do you think that the difficult marriage and the famous terribilis wife of Haydn must have played some role in the partial neglect, into which most of his music production fell during the 19th and the 20th century?

This maybe the case, but the deification of Mozart as a tragic artist was a strong element, as was the influence of the Romantic movement in general.

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6. And a particularly interesting fact, on that process of deification of Mozart that you were talking about, is that, after 1791, in his letters, even Haydn himself began calling Mozart our immortal Mozart, and always received Constanze Mozart among his closest friends. In 1790s Haydn even actually actively promoted the purchasing and the publication of Mozart’s manuscripts and unpublished works… So, in conclusion, Haydn himself accepted that particular treatment of Mozart, supported Constanze Mozart’s activity and was among Mozart promoters! Certainly an important token of their long friendship, from such a generous and constructive man as Haydn!
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You are also a conductor and you have also released a series of CD albums featuring Haydn’s music. As a conductor, what’s your personal approach to Haydn and to his music?

My main concern is to be loyal to the spirit of the music, and to project the essence of each movement in performances I direct.

This is often more difficult than it appears.

When we look at a Haydn score, the instrumentation can sometimes seem quite sparse, as though it lacks substance.

But any attempt on the part of the conductor to interpret the music, in an effort to compensate for this apparent deficiency, I find is generally counter-productive.

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7. You have published also a series of important editions of Haydn’s sacred music, as an editor, through the Oxford University Press. Your Nelson Mass edition has been critically acclaimed. What have been your impressions and emotions, while directly working on the music by such a great Master of the History of Music. In your edition of Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo you included also the elongated Gloria by his brother Michael Haydn. What do you think of the music by Joseph and Michael Haydn, when considered in comparison? What the differences?

Because I was able to work from the composer’s autograph score, the physical sight and contact with the Haydn’s handwriting – including his erasures and revisions – was very moving.

The hand-written manuscript was beautifully neat and clear.
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Like many music lovers, I’m not as familiar with Michael Haydn’s works as I would like to be.

However, those which I have heard, such as his Requiem in C minor, strike me to be as fine as those of his brother.

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8. What’s your favourite work by J. Haydn? And, thanks to your long experience, what’s, in general, the favourite work by J. Haydn, in people’s opinion?

This is a very difficult question to answer. It’s often the work I’m studying at the time. If I had to choose, it would be The Creation.
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The Trumpet Concerto in E flat!

From lists of top choices in classical music that I have seen, the Trumpet Concerto by Haydn is always the first of Haydn’s works to be selected.

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9. Beside Joseph and Michael Haydn, do you have in mind the name of some other neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

One is Wilhelm Herschel (1738-1822), a British contemporary of Haydn’s, a major astronomer, and a member of the Royal Society.

Another is the Italian Gaetano Brunetti (1744–1798), some of whose symphonies have been edited by Newell Jenkins.

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10. Next 5-10 September 2017 you are organizing a wonderful journey to the places where Haydn worked, as lecturer with Martin Randall Travel. It will be possible to visit all the venues associated with Haydn, from Eisenstadt to Rohrau, Eszterháza and Vienna and to attend important concerts with internationally acclaimed orchestras and musicians, and in the very places, where Haydn himself worked, composed and performed his music. In your opinion, how important is to have a direct experience with the original places, to achieve a better comprehension of the music of such great composer.

Personally, I always like to visit the places where a composer lived and worked to explore their particular atmosphere and physical proportions.

In Haydn’s case, for example, the acoustics of the Haydnsaal in the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt are unusually attractive, and this is rather surprising until it emerges that the composer insisted that the marble floor be covered in wood to achieve the acoustic he wanted for his orchestral concerts.

Finally, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to your admirable publication.

I have enjoyed the chance to think about some of the reasons that I admire Haydn and his music.

Indeed, if I was offered one wish outside the present, it would be to spend an evening having dinner together.

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Thank you very much for your invitation, we accept with great pleasure! And it’s sure our main dishes will be the Haydnian Esterházy Roast Beef and the Mozartian Chocolate & Marzipan Cake. 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.

 

Interview March 2017: 10 Questions with J. A. Montaño (English)

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José Antonio Montaño conducting Martín y Soler, Haydn & Mozart:



1. Thanks to your intense activity as conductor, artistic director, music scholar and critical editor, you managed to develop an important series of music projects on a very special Viennese triad: Mozart, Haydn and Martín y Soler. So you really re-create, this way, that special authentic Vienna musical atmosphere of the 1780s, when Haydn was already a papa and both Mozart and Martín y Soler (backed by those great librettos by Da Ponte) became the Theatre Opera Best Sellers from Vienna to Prague with their Nozze di Figaro, Una cosa rara, Don Giovanni and L’arbore di Diana, and Martín y Soler was so successful to become the favourite composer of the Imperial Court. What fascinated and fascinates you most about the music of Martín y Soler? And, in your opinion, what characteristics of his music and of his operas impressed and attracted the 18th century audience so much that Martín y Soler’s operas managed to receive such an extraordinary amount of theatre performances for that period (almost 100 performances only for Una cosa rara and the usual theatre income for 24 successful performances was ca. 20,000 florins, i.e. ca. 140,000 modern US dollars: Mozart’s annual Imperial salary was 800 florins, i.e. ca. 4,800 modern US dollars)?

Since my early years as a musical director, I have had the impulse to research and perform forgotten works by not-so-popular musicians such as La Contadina by Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), the zarzuela Las labradoras de Murcia by Antonio Rodríguez de Hita (1724-1787) and the oratorio Il sacrifizio di Abramo by Camilla de Rossi (16??-1710). In this context and while I was studyig in-depth Spanish authors of the 17th and 18th centuries, Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806) appeared. It also coincided that back in 2006, when the Teatro Real de Madrid (Royal Theatre of Madrid), where I was working as conductor of its young orchestra Orquesta Escuela de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, decided to produce the opera Il Tutore Burlato (1775) on the occasion of the 200th death anniversary of Martín y Soler and therefore I had the chance to work in-depth on his music. It was in that very moment that I began studying his work and life more thoroughly.

Martín y Soler, Il Tutore Burlato, Overture

The first factor that has drawn me to Martín y Soler was that he, a Spanish composer, could enjoy such resounding success in Europe’s most prominent musical centres in the final years of the 18th century, and that he was, at the same time, in direct competition to musicians of the highest level such as Mozart himself, whom he even managed to surpass in popularity.

What I find fascinating about Martín y Soler also coincides with what I think was one of the keys to his success: to be a flexible and versatile musician who knew how to adapt himself and his music to the various trends and requirements that he had to face during the various and different (also geographical) situations of his life, be that in Spain, Italy, England, Russia or Vienna with their respective Italian, French and Russian operas.

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A great example of this is what happened when the empress Catherine II of Russia requested the service of Vicente Martín y Soler, who was at that moment a highly acclaimed composer and a favourite of Joseph II in Vienna, where he was known, in his role of a successful and celebrated maestro, as lo Spagnuolo.

The czarina was not satisfied with the work of Domenico Cimarosa who was then maestro di cappella at the Imperial Court and whose duties included the composition of Italian operas and the new Russian opera which Catherine II wanted to empower. Martín y Soler knew how to adapt to his Russian operas and highly fulfilled what was expected of him.

On the other hand, thanks to this replacement, in 1791 Cimarosa reached Vienna where he occupied, for a few months, the position of court composer that was formerly deserted by Salieri, (a position also intensely desired by Mozart, dead by then), to conduct the premiere of Il Matrimonio segreto in February 1792 with resounding success, which is considered today his best opera and one of the best comic operas of that period. It is well known how, after the sudden death (by poisoning?) of the Austrian emperor Leopold in March 1792, Cimarosa had to leave the Imperial Court and Salieri received his position of court composer back, to keep it de facto for another thirty years.

Cimarosa, Il matrimonio segreto (2012)

Another of the keys to Martín y Soler’s success was that he knew how to keep this flexibility and his ability to adapt without ever losing his own style and essence.

Throughout his career, his aesthetics follow certain general guidelines similar to those used by Spanish composers of the 18th century: a clear and clean orchestration, that avoids excess and artificiality where the voice did not compete in a counterpoint way with the orchestra, and a contained harmony. This apparent simplicity, his capacity for creating beautiful and catchy melodies and that amiable atmosphere of divertimento of his operas enchanted and captivated the audience of all the social classes.
It surely comes across as striking, yet during Martín y Soler’s Viennese period his operas were certainly more frequently performed and had more success than the majority of Mozart’s, who deliberately wrote for intellectual elite.

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2. You gained great audience and critical acclaim a few years ago, thanks to your most beautiful and brilliant production of Haydn’s opera La vera costanza. What did you love most of Haydn, the opera composer? And in what elements of his operas do you think the inventiveness and wit of the Haydn of the Quartets and of the Symphonies do emerge with all their charm?

Haydn really played a major and fundamental role in establishing two of the greatest forms of western music: the string quartet and the symphony. He used the string quartet as the means for formal experimenting, achieving thus that peculiar unity, where before there was just a series of movements. He exports his work on the string quartet to his symphonies and, of course, to his operas as well. That interrelation between different genres that he encouraged is, in its essence, both logical and visible. During his life, Haydn enjoyed success and recognition for his work, as rarely happens in history, however after his death and to this day his numerous and valuable works have become progressively forgotten and neglected due to various circumstances. Among these circumstances there is certainly also the appearance of Mozart and Beethoven, and so daddy Haydn started occupying the real undeserved role of a mere introduction to the well-known geniuses.

His very works are a real example of this kind of oblivion that their composer Haydn had to suffer, since they are rarely featured in present theatre programmes, and this is a tremendous pity.

I have been lucky enough to be able to work on such magnificent title as La vera costanza (1779)…

Haydn, La vera costanza, Sinfonia Introduzione

Haydn, La vera costanza, Finale Atto II

… and Il mondo della luna (1777), both composed while Haydn was in the service of the Eszterházy family (and the majority of his operatic catalogue was conceived, written and produced in such circumstances).

Haydn’s creativity and imagination are overwhelming. His arias and ensemble numbers have their own personality and they are characterized by that peculiar Haydnian scent, so to speak. Haydn is a real magician when it comes to regulating the intensity of music and to carrying it to its climax in a masterly way in his Finale, as his friend and admirer Mozart did in a very similar way.

However Haydn had a disadvantage, when we consider his opera production in comparison to that of Mozart and Martín y Soler: the quality of his librettos, in reality, was not excellent. Working in the Eszterházy court, he did not have a lot of opportunities to work with librettists of the rank of Lorenzo Da Ponte, while Mozart and Martín y Soler could work with him, one of the best librettists of that period. Probably this is one of the reasons why present day theatres do not produce his operas with particular assiduousness, even though Haydn’s music is so marvellous.

Another aspect that I much cherish in Haydn is his humour, always so manifestly evident in his entire musical production and this even more overtly and effectively in his own operas.

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3. Thanks to your activity as concert organizer, you have revived also a special type of 1780s concert: concerts featuring, during the same soirée, music by Mozart and by Martín y Soler. Probably the first time this happens since 1780s, when we know from the sources that music-lovers adored to organize such types of concerts (Mozart+Martín y Soler) with «extraordinarily numerous audience… and in unanimous satisfaction… elicited unanimous applause». What have been your impressions in finally re-uniting such two great masters of music for the same concert? Mozart wrote also a few vocal pieces to be included in the Operas by Martín y Soler: do you think he wrote such pieces, by using exclusively his own style or added also a bit of Martín y Soler in them?

I see this type of programmes with great satisfaction, both on a personal level and also because of the reaction of the audience and of the musicians themselves. A marvellous example is the programme for the debut of my period instrument orchestra La Madrileña which featured exclusively works by both authors. I chose masterpieces by Mozart such as the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor,…

Mozart, Symphony nº 40

…  the aria of Leporello Madamina, il catalogo è questo from Don Giovanni or the duo Crudel! Perchè finora from The marriage of Figaro and I combined them with overtures, arias and duos from operas by Martín y Soler such as Il burbero di buon cuore, Una cosa rara, La capricciosa corretta and L’isola del piacere. These works did not only prove a competence of Martín y Soler on the level of a Mozart, but the audience and even some of the orchestra members themselves were really amazed at the intrinsic high quality of Martín y Soler’s works.

Regarding your second question, yes indeed, the musical interrelation between Mozart and Martín y Soler is not only due to the famous quote from Una cosa rara which appears in the finale of Don Giovanni.

Sometimes these operas were performed during a long period of time and it would be necessary to replace one or another of the singers and such situations led to inevitably remake and readjust the music to the new voices.
This is exactly what happened in 1789 with the repositioning of a few arias of Il Burbero di buon cuore for the character of Madama Lucilla: Chi sa qual sia and Vado, ma dove.

Mozart, Aria Chi sa qual sia

This opera by Martín y Soler had premiered three years before and the new singer, Louise Villeneuve, needed for her arias to be developed in a more centred register. As lo Spagnuolo, Martín y Soler, was in San Petersburg, Mozart received the assignment for the rewriting. Mozart accepted and composed these two magnificent arias based on the same text by Lorenzo Da Ponte, yet in his own personal style.

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4. Your orchestra La Madrileña receives its name after Martín y Soler first opera Il tutore burlato or La Madrileña (1775-1776 as zarzuela), both as an homage to Martín y Soler and as a label for your Music Project The Martín y Soler Project. Among your activities with your orchestra, you are presenting a series of concerts featuring again rare beautiful music from the Spain of the 18th century with works by Martín y Soler, Boccherini, José de Nebra, Rodriguez de Hita and from the Zarzuela tradition. What are your vision and your projects for your orchestra La Madrileña and for the music of 18th century for the future, especially regarding The Martín y Soler Project? Do you think also that your activity of music critical editor will lead you also to re-discover some other lost music gems, after your marvellous work with Martín y Soler’s opera Pesnolubie?

I have great and ambitious expectations for La Madrileña and The Martín y Soler Project related activities. I hope we could soon complete our concert activities with also a series of productions of opera and zarzuela; the musicians I am fortunate to rely on are extremely capable and this allows them to tackle any type of production.

Regarding the Martín y Soler Project, which is in the DNA of La Madrileña, it is through this project that we aspire to encounter the recognition that Martín y Soler deserves. I firmly believe that the ideal way to showcase his music qualities is through an orchestra of period instruments of the highest standard such as La Madrileña.

Regarding the second question, I have been finding really hidden gems for so many years, until today, and I am sure that this state of things will certainly continue in this way, as long as I steadily carry on a strenuous archival and documentary research.

On the other hand, and especially regarding the Spanish music heritage, we have to state that it is so vast and of such a high quality, that it is hard to believe that it has been so scarcely performed so far. In addition, I have the pleasure to be able to rely on the invaluable help of various musicologists. Vera Fouter is one of them and her contribution is the largest one to The Martín y Soler Project. Doctor Fouter (Vera Fouter at Academia; Read here her work on Martín y Soler – University of Oviedo: La Estancia en Rusia de Vicente Martín y Soler: nuevas aportaciones musicologicas) is an academic major, specialized in Martín y Soler and it is mainly thanks to her studies and efforts that the revival in modern times of three arias from the opera Pesnolubie by Martín y Soler has been possible and this with the collaboration of La Madrileña: such works, in fact, have not been performed for more than 200 years!

 

Martín y Soler, Aria V svéte liúdi svoevólni, from opera Pesnolubie

Presently we continue working together on Martín y Soler’s music and we are really looking forward to being able to show the fruit of our work, as soon as possible, by presenting, to the public, new marvellous forgotten gems by him and by other composers.

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

This is a tough question, since I am literally capable of crazily falling in love with the works I am working on at the moment.

If I am conducting the 41st Symphony by Mozart, it happens that, during the process of study, the rehearsals, and the concerts, that very symphony can become even my favourite symphony ever.

And this always happens to me, always and with all the works I am working on.

However, if I had really to choose an opera, in particular, and nothing else, I’d choose Don Giovanni.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Overture

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo

I also think that that very peculiar experience that one lives when conducting (one’s memories, perceptions, the atmosphere, etc.), always exerts a great influence on one’s disposition towards things and also towards music works.

Many things, so, may exert a direct influence on one’s choices, but, without a doubt, Don Giovanni is special to me.
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For Haydn, I would choose Die Schöpfung.

It is a masterpiece for which I have always cultivated a profound admiration: it is an oratorio full of subtleties and of dramatic qualities, well deserving to be positioned among the greatest masterpieces of all time.

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6. Beside Martín y Soler, do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

I am interested in José de Nebra (1702-1768), a Spanish composer who composed marvellous zarzuelas and sacred works.

He is a great artist who, with minimal resources, was capable of achieving great expressiveness: a characteristic typical only of great maestros.

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7. Considering your work on Martín y Soler and the zarzuela, name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Any opera by Martín y Soler and any zarzuela by Nebra represent marvellous concert and performance proposals, worthy to be included into any Music Season programme more frequently.

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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 think it is of great importance to develop a proper knowledge both of the oldest and of the latest musical treatises, with a particular attention to those treatises, which belong to the same era as the music works you are working on: it’s the only way to better understand any phase of the musical creativity process in its correct context and also within the historical flow.

To have a wider perspective always gives you the possibility of a better comprehension both of the subject, as a whole, and of its single parts and elements. Considering this special perspective, I think that the famous treatises by Quantz and Leopold Mozart are indispensable tools for any musician, even though those treatises belong to a previous generation, or better, exactly because they belong to that previous generation that produced the music of the 18th century.

On the other hand, I consider it very useful to develop also a proper historical, social and political knowledge, and not only a musical and an artistic one. I would like to cite here The Present State of Music in France and Italy by Charles Bruney and the Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte, both perfect books for that type of intellectual work, I was talking about.

[The Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte are already available to read & download at the MozartCircle Library: Mozart’s Life Books – Other Sources. Also the other books and treatises will be available soon.]

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

Considering the movies related to classicism, it is inevitable to remember the most famous Amadeus.

To complete an ideal trilogy that would help to grant a perspective on the previous and later periods I would cite Eroica, which re-enacts the first rehearsal of the 3rd Symphony by Beethoven (the recording is with musicians who play on period instruments), and Farinelli, il castrato, especially because of the very peculiar relationship of this great singer and of his family with Spain.

 

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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 piano music?

I think that if I had to choose a place, it would be Vienna.

The weight and influence that Haydn and Mozart had on Beethoven and on the future of the German and European music is simply indisputable.

However we cannot forget to mention Italy.

The musical genre of Viennese classicism, in fact, is par excellence, in reality, the Italian Opera buffa, to which later composers, like Rossini and Donizetti, gave their enormous contribution, preparing the way to a long series of excellent maestros, from Bellini to Verdi.

 

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

Thank you!

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Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

Entrevista Marzo 2017: 10 Preguntas con J. A. Montaño (Español)

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Read this Interview in English

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José Antonio Montaño dirigiendo Martín y Soler, Haydn & Mozart:



1. Gracias a su intensa actividad como director de orquesta, director artístico, estudioso de música y editor crítico, ha logrado desarrollar una importante serie de proyectos musicales con una tríada vienesa muy especial: Mozart, Haydn y Martín y Soler. Realmente recrea, de esta manera, esta específica y auténtica atmósfera musical de la Viena de la década de 1780, cuando Haydn ya era papá Haydn y tanto Mozart como Martín y Soler (respaldados por esos grandes libretos de Da Ponte) crearon los Best Sellers de los teatros de ópera de Viena a Praga con sus Nozze di Figaro, Una cosa rara, Don Giovanni y L’arbore di Diana, conviertiendo al existoso Martín y Soler en el compositor favorito de la Corte Imperial. ¿Qué es lo que más le fascina de la música de Martín y Soler? Y, en su opinión, ¿Qué características de su música y de sus óperas impresionaron y atrajeron tanto al público del siglo XVIII para que las óperas de Martín y Soler se representaran en esa cantidad tan extraordinaria de cifras durante ese período (casi 100 sólo para Una cosa Rara y el ingreso habitual de un teatro para 24 representaciones exitosas estaba ca. 20 000 florines, i.e. ca. 140 000 US dólares modernos: el salario anual Imperial de Mozart estaba 800 florines, i.e. ca. 4 800 US dólares modernos)?

Desde mis primeros años como director musical he tenido el impulso interno de investigar y llevar a escena obras olvidadas de autores no muy populares como La Contadina de Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), la zarzuela Las labradoras de Murcia de Antonio Rodríguez de Hita (1724-1787) o el oratorio Il sacrifizio di Abramo de Camilla de Rossi (16??-1710). En este contexto profundicé en el estudio de autores españoles de los siglos XVII y XVIII donde apareció el gran Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806). Se dio además la circunstancia de que en el año 2006 el Teatro Real de Madrid, donde trabajaba como director de su joven orquesta la Orquesta Escuela de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, programó su ópera Il Tutore Burlato (1775) con motivo del 200 aniversario de su muerte, por lo que tuve la oportunidad de trabajar a fondo su música. Fue a partir de este momento cuando empecé a estudiar su obra y vida de manera más profunda.

Martín y Soler, Il Tutore Burlato, Overture

Lo primero que me atrajo de él fue el hecho de que un compositor español lograra éxitos tan rotundos en los centros musicales europeos más importantes de finales del siglo XVIII, y que fuera la competencia de autores como el propio Mozart, al que superó en popularidad.

Lo que me fascina de él coincide con lo que fue, a mi parecer, una de las claves de su éxito; ser un músico flexible y versátil que supo amoldarse a las diferentes corrientes y exigencias que se fue encontrando durante los diferentes periodos de su vida en España, Italia, Viena, Inglaterra y Rusia a través de la ópera italiana, francesa o rusa.

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Un ejemplo de esto ocurrió cuando la emperatriz Catalina II de Rusia reclamó al compositor más aclamado del momento y favorito de José II de Viena, Vicente Martín y Soler lo Spagnuolo.

La zarina no estaba satisfecha con el trabajo que estaba realizando Domenico Cimarosa contratado como Maestro de capilla de la Corte Imperial y cuyas funciones comprendían la composición de ópera italiana y la nueva ópera rusa que Catalina II quería fortalecer. Martín y Soler supo adaptarse con sus óperas rusas y cumplió altamente con sus expectativas.

Por otro lado, gracias a esta sustitución, Cimarosa regresaría a Viena donde ocuparía el puesto de compositor de la corte abandonado previamente por Salieri, y tan ansiado por el ya fallecido Mozart, para estrenar con rotundo éxito en 1792 Il Matrimonio segreto, considerada hoy día su mejor ópera y una de las mejores óperas cómicas del momento. Es bien sabido cómo, después de la muerte súbita (por envenenamiento?) del emperador austríaco Leopoldo en marzo 1792, Cimarosa se vio obligado a abandonar la Corte Imperial y Salieri obtuvo de nuevo el cargo de compositor de la corte, para mantenerlo de facto durante otros treinta años.

Cimarosa, Il matrimonio segreto (2012)

Otra de las claves de su éxito fue que Martín y Soler supo mantener esta flexibilidad y capacidad de adaptación sin perder nunca su propio estilo y esencia.

Su estética mantiene a lo largo de su carrera unas pautas generales similares a las que usaban los compositores españoles del siglo XVIII; una orquestación clara y limpia que huye de los excesos y artificios donde la voz no competía contrapuntisticamente contra la orquesta y una armonía contenida. Esta aparente sencillez,  su capacidad para crear bonitas y pegadizas melodías y el clima amable de divertimento de sus óperas cautivaron al público de todas las clases sociales. Resulta llamativo pero, lo cierto es que en la época vienesa de Martín y Soler sus óperas se representaron mucho más y con mayor éxito que las de Mozart el cual escribía deliberadamente para una élite intelectual.

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2. Usted ganó gran audiencia y aclamación de la crítica hace unos años, gracias a su producción más hermosa y brillante de la ópera de Haydn La vera costanza. ¿Qué es lo que más le gusta de Haydn, el compositor de ópera? ¿Y en qué elementos de sus óperas cree que la inventiva y el ingenio del Haydn de los Cuartetos y de las Sinfonías emergen con todo su encanto?

Haydn es el máximo responsable del establecimiento de dos de las grandes formas de la música occidental como son el cuarteto de cuerda y la sinfonía. Utilizó el cuarteto como medio de experimentación formal logrando una unidad donde antes había una sucesión de movimientos. Esta característica la exporta a sus sinfonías y por su puesto, a sus óperas. La interrelación entre los distintos géneros que cultivó es lógica y visible. Haydn gozó en vida de un reconocimiento absoluto como ha ocurrido en pocas ocasiones a lo largo de la historia, pero tras su muerte y hasta la actualidad su numerosa y valiosa obra ha quedado en gran parte olvidada por diversas circunstancias, entre ellas la aparición de Mozart y Beethoven donde papa Haydn parece haber quedado relegado al mero preámbulo de los dos archiconocidos genios.

Sus óperas son el mejor ejemplo de este olvido ya que raramente se ven programadas por los teatros actuales lo que es una verdadera lástima.

Yo he tenido la gran suerte de poder trabajar dos magníficos títulos como son La vera costanza (1779)…

Haydn, La vera costanza, Sinfonia Introduzione

Haydn, La vera costanza, Finale Atto II

… e Il mondo della luna (1777), ambas compuestas estando al servicio de la casa Eszterházy como la mayoría de su catálogo operístico.

La creatividad e imaginación de Haydn es abrumadora. Sus arias y conjuntos tienen una personalidad propia y huelen a él. Es un mago regulando la intensidad de la música y llevándola a sus clímax de una manera magistral en sus Finale al igual que hacía su amigo y admirado Mozart.

Pero Haydn tenía una desventaja frente a Mozart y a Martín y Soler, la calidad de los libretos. Haydn al estar en la corte de los Eszterházy no tuvo tantas oportunidades de trabajar con libretistas de la altura de Lorenzo Da Ponte, como sí pudieron hacer Mozart y Martín y Soler. Quizás esta sea una de las razones por la que los teatros actuales no programan con tanta asiduidad sus óperas, pese a que su música es maravillosa.

Otro de los aspectos que adoro de Haydn es su humor, manifiesto en toda su producción musical pero de manera mucho más clara y efectiva en sus óperas.

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3. Gracias a su actividad como organizador de conciertos, ha hecho revivir también un tipo especial de conciertos en torno a la década de 1780: conciertos que presentan, durante la misma soirée, música de Mozart y de Martín y Soler. Probablemente la primera vez que esto sucede desde la década de 1780, cuando sabemos por las fuentes que los amantes de la música solían organizar este tipo de conciertos (Mozart + Martín y Soler) con «audiencia extraordinariamente numerosa … y con satisfacción unánime … provocó unánimes aplausos». ¿Cuáles han sido sus impresiones finalmente al reunir a estos dos grandes maestros de música en un mismo concierto? Mozart escribió también algunas piezas vocales para ser incluidas en las Óperas de Martín y Soler: ¿cree que escribió tales piezas, usando exclusivamente su propio estilo o cree que añadó también un poco de Martín y Soler en ellas?

Mi impresión personal respecto a este tipo de programas es de auténtica satisfacción tanto a nivel personal como por la reacción del público y de los propios músicos. Por ejemplo, el programa del concierto de presentación de mi orquesta de instrumentos de época La Madrileña estuvo formado exclusivamente por obras de ambos autores. Elegí obras maestras de Mozart como son la Sinfonía nº 40 en Sol Menor,…

Mozart, Sinfonía nº 40

…   el aria de Leporello Madamina, il catalogo è questo de Don Giovanni o el dúo Crudel! Perchè finora de Le nozze di Figaro y las combiné con oberturas, arias y dúos de óperas de Martín y Soler como Il burbero di buon cuore, Una cosa rara, La capricciosa corretta o L’isola del piacere. Estas piezas no sólo estuvieron a la altura del combate con Mozart sino que el público, e incluso algunos miembros de la propia orquesta, quedaron sorprendidos de la gran calidad de las obras de Martín y Soler.

Respecto a la segunda pregunta, efectivamente la interrelación musical entre Mozart y Martín y Soler no se debe solamente a la famosa cita de Una cosa rara que aparece en el final de Don Giovanni.

Hay que saber que los compositores escribían sus óperas conociendo de antemano a los cantantes que las iban a interpretar y ajustaban sus composiciones a las características vocales de éstos. A veces estas óperas se representaban durante mucho tiempo y era necesario sustituir a algún cantante, lo que obligaba a rehacer y reajustar la música para adaptarla a las nuevas voces. Esto es justo lo que ocurrió en 1789 con la reposición de Il Burbero di buon cuore en las dos arias del personaje Madama Lucilla: Chi sa qual sia y Vado, ma dove.

Mozart, Aria Chi sa qual sia

Esta ópera de Martín y Soler se había estrenado tres años antes y la nueva cantante Louise Villeneuve necesitaba que sus arias se desarrollaran en un registro más centrado. Como lo Spagnuolo se encontraba en San Petersburgo se le hizo el encargo de la reescritura a Mozart quien aceptó y compuso estas dos magníficas arias sobre el mismo texto de Lorenzo Da Ponte pero, en su propio estilo personal.

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4. Su orquesta La Madrileña recibe su nombre de la primera ópera de Martín y Soler Il tutore burlato (1775) al convertirse en zarzuela La Madrileña (1776), como homenaje a Martín y Soler y como sello para su Proyecto Martín y Soler. Entre sus actividades con su orquesta, está presentando una serie de conciertos con una desconocida y bella música de la España del siglo XVIII con obras de Martín y Soler, Boccherini, José de Nebra, Rodríguez de Hita y de la tradición zarzuelística. ¿Cuál es su visión y sus proyectos para su orquesta La Madrileña y para la música del siglo XVIII en el futuro, especialmente en relación al Proyecto Martín y Soler? ¿Cree que su actividad como editor crítico de música le llevará a redescubrir algunas otras joyas de la música perdida, después de tu maravilloso trabajo con la ópera Pesnolubie de Martín y Soler?

Mis expectativas respecto a la actividad con La Madrileña y The Martín y Soler Project son grandes y ambiciosas. Espero que pronto podamos complementar nuestra actividad de conciertos con producciones de ópera o zarzuela, el nivel de los músicos con los que tengo la fortuna de contar es muy alto y permite abordar cualquier tipo de producción.

Respecto al proyecto Martín y Soler, pertenece al ADN de La Madrileña, a través de él queremos buscar el reconocimiento que merece Martín y Soler. Creo firmemente que la forma óptima de mostrar las cualidades de su música es a través de una orquesta de instrumentos de época del más alto nivel como La Madrileña.

Respecto a la segunda pregunta, llevo muchos años encontrándome con joyas escondidas y estoy seguro de que seguirá siendo así ya que mantengo una intensa labor de investigación.

Por otro lado y en relación al patrimonio musical español, decir que es muy vasto, de gran calidad y que está menos interpretado de lo que merece. Además, tengo la fortuna de poder contar con la inestimable ayuda de diferentes musicólogos, uno de los que más está aportando a The Martín y Soler Project es Vera Fouter. La doctora Fouter (Vera Fouter en Academia; Lee aquí su obra sobre Martín y Soler – Universidad de Oviedo: La Estancia en Rusia de Vicente Martín y Soler: nuevas aportaciones musicologicas) está especializada en este autor y es la primera responsable de que se pudieran reestrenar en tiempos modernos con La Madrileña tres arias de la ópera Pesnolubie de Martín y Soler que hacía más de 200 años que no se interpretaban.

Martín y Soler, Aria V svéte liúdi svoevólni, de la ópera Pesnolubie

Actualmente seguimos trabajando conjuntamente sobre su música y esperamos poder mostrar pronto el fruto de nuestro trabajo con nuevas Joyas olvidadas de este y otros autores.

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

Es una pregunta muy difícil de responder. Tengo la capacidad de enamorarme con locura de las obras que estoy trabajando en cada momento.

Si estoy dirigiendo la Sinfonía 41 de Mozart, durante mi estudio, ensayos y conciertos será mi sinfonía preferida.

Siempre me ocurre lo mismo.

Pero si tuviera que decantarme por una ópera, elegiría Don Giovanni.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Overture

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo

También creo que influye en esto las experiencias que uno ha tenido al dirigir esas obras, los recuerdos, las sensaciones, etc.

Influyen muchas cosas, pero Don Giovanni sin duda es especial para mí.
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Respecto a Haydn elegiría Die Schöpfung.

Es una obra maestra que siempre he admirado llena de sulilezas y dramatismo, digna de ocupar podio entre las mejores obras maestras de todos los tiempos.

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6. Junto a Martín y Soler, ¿tiene usted en mente el nombre de algún otro compositor descuidado del siglo XVIII que le gustaría ver reevaluado?

Me interesa mucho José de Nebra (1702-1768), un compositor español autor de estupendas zarzuelas y obras sacras.

Es un gran artista que consigue con los mínimos recursos una gran expresividad propia sólo de los grandes maestros.

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7. Considerando su trabajo sobre Martín y Soler y la zarzuela, nombre una obra musical abandonada del siglo XVIII que le gustaría ver interpretada en concierto con más frecuencia.

Cualquier ópera de Martín y Soler y cualquier zarzuela de Nebra serían estupendas propuestas dignas de ser programadas con más frecuencia.

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8. ¿Ha leído algún libro en particular sobre la era de Mozart que considere importante para la comprensión de la música de este período?

Creo que es muy importante conocer los tratados musicales anteriores y posteriores además de los de la propia época para entender mejor cualquier etapa. Tener una perspectiva más amplia da una mejor comprensión tanto del todo como de la parte. En este aspecto considero imprescindibles los famosos tratados de Quantz y Leopold Mozart pertenecientes a la generación anterior.

Por otro lado considero que es muy útil recabar también conocimientos históricos, sociales y políticos, no sólo musicales y artísticos. En este sentido me gustaría citar The Present State of Music in France and Italy de Charles Bruney o Memoirs de Lorenzo Da Ponte.

[Las Memorias de Lorenzo Da Ponte ya están disponibles para leer y descargar a la Biblioteca MozartCircle: Libros sobre la vida de Mozart – Otras fuentes. Luego también los otros libros y tratados estarán disponibles.]

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

Pensando en películas relacionadas con el clasicismo es inevitable acordarse de la famosísima Amadeus.

Para completar una trilogía que ayude a tener cierta perspectiva anterior y posterior citaría Heroica, que revive el primer ensayo de la 3a Sinfonía de Beethoven, grabada con músicos que tocan instrumentos de la época, y Farinelli, il castrato, especialmente por su relación con España.

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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 si hay que elegir un lugar sería Viena.

El peso e influencia que adquirieron Haydn y Mozart en Beethoven y en el futuro de la música alemana y europea es indiscutible.

Aunque no me puedo olvidar de Italia.

El género musical por excelencia del clasicismo vienés es la Opera buffa italiana a la que después contribuirían autores como Rossini o Donizetti, dando paso a una larga cadena de excelentes maestros, pasando por Bellini hasta llegar a Verdi.

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

Gracias!

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

Interview October 2016: 10 Questions with K. Woods

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Kenneth Woods: Official Links
Kenneth Woods Official Site: Kenneth Woods
Kenneth Woods & ESO Official Site: English Symphony Orchestra (ESO)
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods at ESO
Kenneth Woods: Colorado MahlerFest
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods Twitter (Official)
Kenneth Woods: ESO Twitter (Official)
Kenneth Woods: Kenneth Woods Facebook (Official)
Kenneth Woods: ESO Facebook (Official)

Kenneth Woods: CD Elgar Piano Quintet – Sea Pictures Top 10 Best Seller
Kenneth Woods: CD Hans Gal & Mozart Piano Concertos

Kenneth Woods: Next Concert: Haydn & Mozart (11 December 2016)
Kenneth Woods: Next Concert: Haydn, Mozart & Beethoven (21 December 2016)


1. Your recent CD Elgar: Orchestrated By Donald Fraser, Piano Quintet, Sea Pictures reached the Amazon Best Seller Top 10 last June! In his youth, in 1870s, Elgar himself arranged many works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven for quintet and wrote his Harmony Music and Shed Pieces, which had a strong, yet personal, Mozartian writing, do you think that the influence of those composers on his music still emerges from his later works? And if yes, how?

Elgar is an interesting figure, because his own compositional voice is so strong and so consistent across his entire maturity. Composers like Shostakovich or Beethoven, or even Mozart, went through huge changes of style in their careers, while the differences between early Elgar and late Elgar are pretty small. The only composer I can think of who has such a consistent and recognizable voice is Brahms. Elgar’s voice was so strong, that even his orchestrations of other composers sound like Elgar.

This means it’s quite hard to spot the influence of other composers in Elgar’s music. His knowledge of Brahms, Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann, Mozart, Haydn and Bach (I’d say those are the composers who shaped his language and technique the most) is so deeply assimilated and integrated into his own musical world that one almost never thinks «Oh, that sounds a bit like…».

What Elgar ultimately learned from the Austro-German masters is a multi-layered approach to motivic development. There are thematic connections in his music that are very obvious, and there are those that are almost undetectable. In a piece like the Piano Quintet, there are obvious moments of cyclical structure, where whole themes return at the end of the piece which we know from the beginning and which are easy for anyone to spot, and then are tiny, microscopic relationships of intervals and ideas that are very important to the musical logic, which one can only really dig out with lots of analysis while looking at the score.

Haydn and Schumann were the greatest masters of this kind of layering, but Mozart excelled at it too.

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2. You are a well known promoter of Haydn’s music, also through your own blog A View from the Podium, what are your considerations on your activity on Haydn and on the importance of building a wider knowledge of his music, still, unfortunately, a bit neglected? In September you have conducted the beautiful Symphony no. 80 by Haydn, what have been your thoughts, while preparing your performance? Written in 1784, 2 years before Mozart’s Prague K504 and 1 after Linz, do you think this Symphony by Haydn somehow influenced Mozart’s late symphonic writing?

I think there are two main reasons why Haydn’s music is still mostly misunderstood or underappreciated by the general public. First, I think he’s been very badly served by performers and writers who have tried to tame him as both a human being and a musician. The banal image of the benevolent Papa Haydn is only a tiny portion of a complex and fascinating personality – he was a man of tremendous temperament, great tenacity, capable of great anger and passion, and someone who took great personal and professional risks throughout his career. He must have been a genius at dealing with people – think of what it took to keep that incredible orchestra together at Esterháza with all those great artists and strong personalities. The musical manifestation of this problem is that we keep Haydn’s music behind glass. Too many Haydn performances are too bland – everything is made polite and genteel. I think his music is overflowing with madness and genius. It’s not just gently witty.

Of course, Haydn, even well performed and well curated, asks a lot of listeners. It’s very sophisticated and endlessly modern music.

But I’ve found that if you strip away all the accrued politeness and gentility that has become attached to his music and play it with real commitment and total abandon, audiences hear it and are just stunned.

As far as Haydn’s influence on Mozart, it’s not an easy thing to describe in a few words. They were writing during an era in which the language of music was as standardized and codified as pretty much any time I can think of – the only parallels I can think of are movements in popular music, where certain formulae completely dominate the discourse for a while, like doo-wop, rockabilly or ragtime. Mozart and Haydn were fairly unique in taking a system of stock musical gestures and using them to create incredibly expressive and completely radical music. Both of them understood the power of expectation – how to create it and how to undermine it. Haydn provided the structural framework for Mozart by creating or perfecting the forms in which Mozart would excel: sonata form, the string quartet and the symphony.

But by the time you get to Mozart’s earliest mature symphonies like 25 or 29, you can see he’s a totally different character than Haydn. There’s a melodic brilliance and emotional directness one almost never finds in Haydn, but it lacks Haydn’s wildness and technical genius.

What’s touching is that they clearly understood and loved each other’s music without any hint of jealousy or condescension.

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HAYDN & A VIEW FROM THE PODIUM (by Kenneth Woods)
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Haydn’s Music- Bathed in Fire and Blood
Haydn in The Oregonian
Haydn the Yurodivy
Reading Haydn from Beginning to End
Haydn- more talented than Mozart
Haydn- smarter than Brahms
Controversy over Haydn and magic with Schumann
RCCO- Schubert and Haydn
Haydn the Subversive
Podcast- The “true” story of Haydn 59
Listen Again- Haydn Trumpet Concerto
Haydn- More fun than Mahler!
More Haydn
Haydn’s on- let’s cancel the concert and rehearse
Haydn

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3. You have published also a really beautiful series of CDs with music by the Austrian-British composer Hans Gál. Among them, Gál’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and, in the same album, Mozart’s Piano Concerto K482: what led you to create this special combination? You have in your repertoire also a few rare works from 18th/19th century like the Harmoniemusik after Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Figaro by Triebensee and Wendt: do you think this special charming type of works, which had also a specific social value when written, should receive more attention in Concert Seasons, in order to enrich them?

Gál is a special case.

Throughout the decade or so I’ve been working on his music with the Gál Society, one thing I got from them was their deep conviction that his music shouldn’t be assessed too much in terms of his biography.

There has been a lot of long-overdue interest in composers like Gál, whose lives were disrupted (or worse) by the Nazis. It’s important that we let their music be assessed on merit, and not presented with too much special pleading because of their personal tragedies.

With that in mind, we’ve always coupled his works (with a few exceptions, like our disc of string trios by Gál and Krása) alongside works from the Austro-German tradition that he saw himself belonging to. Generationally, he was closer (by far) to Mozart and Schubert than I am to Shostakovich or Mahler.

Hopefully placing his music next to Mozart’s helps us to better understand both composers.

As for the Harmoniemusiks– I think they’re wonderful!

I’m a great fan of arrangements in general. Mozart was, too!

Audiences love these arrangements, and it’s wonderful that one can showcase one’s woodwind section using some of the greatest music ever written.

Orchestras don’t feature their wind sections enough!

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4. When you work with the orchestra, preparing a new series of concerts, what are your pieces of advice and tips to the musicians on approaching Mozart and on approaching Haydn?

On a technical level, I don’t think musicians think as deeply about meter and metric structure as they perhaps should in Baroque and Classical repertoire!

Understanding all the nuances of different kinds of impulses and strong and weak beats and bars is absolutely essential for giving this repertoire the right sense of variety and elegance. When you work with a good orchestra over time, you try to develop a shared understanding about how meter works in Mozart and Haydn (and Bach and Handel).

On a more spiritual level, Classical repertoire seems to bring out musicians’ worst tendencies to imitate other people’s performances and mannerisms. The HIP movement has made the problem even more common… it’s become shorthand for a set of performance habits which are mostly the result of a very contemporary aesthetic.

If I’m feeling naughty, I occasionally point out that the aesthetics of Ikea furniture and many period instrument recordings are basically the same. It’s all about clean lines, bright textures, standardized approaches. I would hope the study of performance practice would lead us to be more questioning and more radical, not to simply recycle the interpretations of a conspicuously brilliant generation of other conductors, whose aesthetics were obviously shaped by the British Cathedral choral tradition as much as anything else.

Why do so many performers ignore or downplay Haydn’s use of fortissimo… a dynamic he uses very sparingly? Why do so many performers end every phrase in Mozart with a diminuendo, even when it precedes a subito piano? Surely these kinds of habits are very destructive to the music… it robs it of drama, intensity, contrast and expression.

I felt like I started to blossom as a Haydn interpreter when I freed myself of any worry about whether other people would approve of what I was up to, or whether anyone else had done it before the way I thought it should go.

You’ve got to be honest with yourself about what you find in the score and try to be true to what you learn from it. Once an orchestra feels free to try different things, to make different, more dangerous sounds, everyone’s creativity and energy starts to flow.

Mozart and Haydn come to life when the performers are letting themselves really give their all to the music, instead of trying to imitate the sound of historic instruments, or conform to some emasculated idea of this music being terribly prim and proper.

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

Mozart… It has to be the Requiem, which is a work I’ve been immersed in most of my life!

Haydn… It’s harder to pick one piece with him than perhaps any other composer, as there are so many works of such staggering originality and beauty, and whatever Haydn symphony I’ve just played always seems the most miraculous. If I had to pick one work, maybe the Oxford Symphony (no. 92): it’s a work particularly close to my heart and a piece I learned a great deal from studying.

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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?

Franz Danzi!

I was always fond of his Cello Concerto and it, and his other music, seem due for a re-appraisal.

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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.

Any Haydn symphony before no. 92 that doesn’t have a nickname!

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

Maynard Solomon’s biography of Mozart is both an impressive piece of scholarship and a touchingly human piece of writing.

I find it very moving.

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

Malcolm Bilson’s documentary Knowing the Score is a great, compact introduction to the world of performance practice.

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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?

Vienna!
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HAYDN, MOZART & BEETHOVEN IN VIENNA
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  • Haydnhaus
Haydn’s final Vienna home, here Creation & Seasons were written.
Mozarthaus
Mozart’s only surviving Vienna home (1784-1787). Here the Piano Concertos K.466, K.467, K.482, K.488, K.491, the Haydn Quartets, Davidde Penitente & Nozze di Figaro were written.
Beethoven’s Eroicahaus
Here Eroica was written.
Beethoven’s Pasqualatihaus
Here 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th & Fidelio were written.
Beethoven’s Wohnung Heiligenstadt
Here 1802 works (ie. Tempest, The Hunt, Eroica Variations, Kreutzer) were written.

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

Thank you!

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Copyright © 2016 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.

 

Interview September 2016: 10 Questions with K. Stratton

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Kerry Stratton: Official Links
Kerry Stratton & TCO Official Site: Toronto Concert Orchestra
Kerry Stratton: Wish Opera (Official Site)
Kerry Stratton (Radio Host): Classical Radio 96.3 Live
Kerry Stratton (Radio Host): Classical Radio 96.3 Host
Kerry Stratton: Kerry Stratton Twitter (Official)
Kerry Stratton: Kerry Stratton & TCO Facebook (Official)
Kerry Stratton: CD Liszt World Premiere De Profundis & Music After Schubert, Beethoven
Kerry Stratton: CD Mozart Clarinet Concerto & Weber Clarinet Concertino


1. For your recent series of concerts with the Toronto Concert Orchestra, you presented Haydn classics par excellence, featuring Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet and the Symphony No. 88! What are the true elements of beauty and fascination in the music by Joseph Haydn, in your opinion?

Both Haydn and Dvorak have suffered scorn over the years simply for having the audacity to practice the art of music from a position of charming, robust mental health.

This to some, is an unforgivable failing but is the very thing that appeals to me in both composers.

Certainly, their respective publics needed no explanations of these composers’ appeal.

The beauty and fascination in Haydn is that he produced so much music of good quality and had so much to offer, yet stayed within the forms of his day while nevertheless contributing to them.

The fascination for me is the extent to which Haydn was a complete child of nature, who seemed to have written down whatever came into his head. Even in his sixties, he was writing to his publisher to request a book on counterpoint, feeling «It is time I studied».

The beauty and fascination… perfection of form and the flow of melody.

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2. Genius & No Rules has been largely exaggerated! In reality both Haydn and Mozart, as you said, spent most of their lives studying and experimenting musical theories and even new ones. Also the famous dirty jokes of Mozart were not, in reality, in most cases, his own stuff, but he was just quoting then widely well known lines from Hanswurst’s popular theatre comedies, a sort of Austrian Mel Brooks of 18th century. The same consideration for Beethoven, who, moreover, had even always boasted his personal condition of intellectual superiority! And Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is still an important piece in your life as a conductor. What are your most profound considerations on this absolute masterpiece by Beethoven?

It was my good fortune to grow up on a farm, here in Ontario, that had been established in the 1850’s.

The buildings are gone now but they would have been the sort of edifice which nowadays would be preserved as a heritage site.

In any case, I was oblivious to that aspect and far more concerned with trying to amuse myself, cut off as one is in the country.

There is not a movement in Beethoven’s Symphony that fails to conjure images of my childhood: the arrival, by the brook (we had a great huge pond on the farm and a stream)… The merry making: (my mother came from a family of eleven children) and when all the families got together it helped Beethoven’s version of the peasants festival, make complete sense to me.

There are few things with the amniotic security of being in a century old stone farmhouse during a summer storm.

The Hymn of Thanksgiving means more to me at this stage in life as I look back on a childhood filtered through the gauze of memory. Beethoven knew what the country was all about and I recognized our commonality.

These considerations are not profound but I offer them to you from the point of view that no conductor without the experience of these things will ever give a convincing pastoral performance.

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3. It is well known how Liszt, as child prodigy, was publicly presented by 19th century papers as the actual physical reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and how, last son of the Esterházy group, he cultivated an unconditioned devotion to Beethoven. In your famous Liszt CD with the World Premiere Recording of Liszt’s De Profundis, you conducted also two other masterpieces by him, the Wanderer Fantasia after Schubert and the Fantasy on Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens after Beethoven, which belonged to Liszt’s programme of public promotion of the music of the so called First Viennese School. Musically speaking, how do you think the spirit of the First Viennese School from Haydn to Beethoven-Schubert really emerges from the very music written by F. Liszt for piano and orchestra?

The inclusion of the Ruins of Athens and the Wanderer Fantasia were at my behest, the Schubert in particular because they represented an era and style that no longer appears in concert programmes.

What I have always sought in a piano soloist is not merely someone who knows how to play the score but who has researched how it was played.

The late Thomas Manshardt, last pupil of Cortot, was a dear friend and a convincing link to the great 19th century pianistic traditions.

Seldom did I encounter an artist who in Liszt, could use what he called the force of the anacrusis. Tom’s phrasing I cannot adequately describe but can only attest to power and the hold-your-breath kind of music making that he showed me.

Too often I feel that we are teaching students with what amounts to a powerful accent on the first beat of every bar which is a difficult habit to break or at least control.

This may be fine in some cases but Liszt appropriates Beethoven and Schubert for his own purposes and his own style, which was anything but rigid.

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4. Beside your intense activity as a conductor, you have been carrying on various important projects both as Classical Radios Host with shows like Conductor’s Choice and The Oasis and as an avid promoter of the activity of young performers and conductors, especially during summer festivals. What have been the great challenges and the great accomplishments, you experienced with these special activities? We know also you are a renowned gourmet and now we are publishing many original 18th century recipes in the section of our Site The Mozartian Gourmet! What do you think of it?

I have enjoyed my work as a radio presenter in that the most important thing to convey to the listener is my love of the music. It may set the cat amongst the pigeons, but I am not out to educate.

Monet had a wonderful quote about his work: «Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love».

We hear too often that people want to appreciate or respect music when it wasn’t written to be appreciated and respected. Those are merely by-products.

It is my view that Mozart to name but one, attests in his correspondence that he wanted people to love his music.

To come to this art form the listener needs but two things and they are time and desire. The rest will follow.

The challenges of the festival fall into the same category as all arts organizations can easily identify and that is securing funding, programming, promotion and consolidating for the future.

What it reduces to is that established arts groups are in one particular business above all others and that is the business of relationships. There are relationships amongst musicians, the conductor, the board, the sponsor and above all, the public. These partnerships are crucial to survival.

As for The Mozartian Gourmet, I would take the greatest interest in any recipe involving game! Now that’s my idea of a splendid meal of a winter’s evening.

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5. Your Classical Music Radio Shows regularly broadcast Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Danzi, Viotti, Kuhlau and many other masters of 18th century and 19th century… is there a better form of education to beauty and good taste? And what about your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn?

Must we have favourites?

Paradise would be rehearsing and performing Mozart operas and Haydn symphonies for all eternity.

If, however, you need an answer, I am afraid I shall disappoint, as it is tantamount to asking which of my children is my favourite!

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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?

The Arriaga Symphony makes wish he had written thirty more but in a life so brief, we have what we have.

There have been some first rate recordings of F. X. Richter symphonies as well as Boccherini and Vorisek, which are a delight to me!

In general, I think the Bohemian symphonists are neglected.

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7. You have already answered previously on the neglected pieces of music of the 18th century! So I’m asking you what is your vision on our approaching this so rich repertoire from 18th century?

To me it is more important to continue on the voyage of exploration and discovery than to focus on just one work!

8. Do you have in mind a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

To comprehend Mozart, but slightly, read his letters!

To comprehend the music, I think it is far more important to do score analysis.

This will teach much about the music and there is no substitute for this kind of work!

There are books aplenty and I have enjoyed many with the caution that when we encounter any writer who declares «I have the truth!» we must go in the opposite direction.

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

I don’t believe such a film has been made but, as an enthusiastic amateur historian, I am always intrigued by military history of the time.

The movement of troops, ordinance and cavalry about a battlefield had the form, traditions and structure of any courtly dance.

Barry Lyndon is not a musical film but I am astounded by Thackeray’s portrayal of 18th century society in the original novel.

The film does well.

To know a people and aspects of their time, is no disadvantage in knowing their music.

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10. Certainly both Kurosawa and Kubrick knew how to treat Classical Music in their movies! It is a fact that many people got acquainted with even rare masterpieces by Haydn, Schubert, Vivaldi and Ligeti through their movies. And the Soundtrack from Barry Lyndon did the same for Paisiello, one of the great musical models of Mozart and who spent also many evenings playing quartets with Mozart himself, and Handel!  Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

In a word, Vienna!

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

Thank you!

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