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15 Questions to Christian Tetzlaff

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I´m fine! Sitting at home at my computer, having a week off. So does my wife- great time..


What’s on your schedule right now?
Saturday a Bach solo-recital on Tuesday, a mixed recital with Lars Vogt including the Ysaye g-minor solo and on Thursday the Mendelssohn Violin Concertp with the Danish radio and Dausgaard..


Can you still remember the first time you heard a piece of classical music?
I do remember my first strong impression: The beginning of Brahms’ first Piano Concerto and a feeling of terror and inexplicable emotion - I must have been around eight at the time – but I’ve been listening to classical music from birth on...


What was the deciding moment, which made you want to become an artist?
I guess there was not one deciding moment. But from the age of nine, I’ve been constantly playing in Youth orchestras. That was my life, this amazing feeling of community - working all day and partying at night. I continued like that until I was 18 and that is also part of the reason for my deep love of the symphonic repertoire.

But I also remember that when I was only eleven I knew that I was going to be a soloist! There was no foundation whatsoever for that believe at the time… at that age I`d never been at the instrument for longer than approximately 45 minutes...


What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
Beeing away from wife and children is the hardest. The rest (over the years) has turned into pure joy: The rehearsals, the concerts, the party afterwards. Being in contact with strong emotions and other people who share them (both listeners and musicians) that makes this profession so incredibly fulfilling.


What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good life performance is a performance where the audience is touched by the essence of the piece -a brilliant and successful performance can be just the opposite of that ultimate goal. So the approach must be inherent to body language, sound and interpretation: What I do, my “interpretation” must be unnoticeable. It must be a function of the emotions, phrases and characters of the composition .The worst (and most often seen because most successful..) approach: Look what I am doing… It’s the same with a good actor: Your heart must be in the role you play and everything you have will go into it. But don’t play yourself...


How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?
If the intentions of the composer and my personal emotions weren`t congruent I really shouldn´t be playing the piece! I never feel the need to change a piece (even in detail) because it is very clear that a composer can put down only the most basic things of what will happen in a performance. So what he or she put down obviously is important guidance to the character of the piece! Especially in phrasings, a lot of meaning is transported, still most students and a lot of players refer to the absurd traditions of changes...

In order to really feel like being on the tracks of the composer is actually what most elevates my emotions and gives greatest freedom in expression. For example, in Schubert`s piano-trio E-flat major, almost all the melodies are marked pianissimo, which evidently forbids any belcanto espressivo playing. Most players choose to still play beautifully, with good sound (with good succes on the outside) - so what do we gain by questioning our `natural`response to these melodies? Everything! Those melodies, by following Schubert`s indications, are still very touching but they gain momentum far from beautiful violin playing: They seem to be memories of beauty, pictures in sepia... An image like sweet and beautiful children walking in a dark and often dangerous (there are terrible outbursts in this first movement) forest... Needless to say, it takes even more intensity to project these beauties in pianissimo. Ignoring these often vitally important and unmistakable indications (like the “sotto voce” in the beginning of Brahms` g-major sonata) can not be considered an interpretation or personal freedom - quite a few of our classical interpretations should be labelled “edited by” or “based on”...


In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your performances?
I don´t know


How would you describe and rate the scene for classical music of the country you are currently living in?
I think it is still quite good, but because of the total lack of musical education in the schools this will continue to change..


Do you consider it important that more young people care for classical music? If so, how, do you think, could this be achieved?
In my opinion classical music offers something almost no other cultural achievement can convey: An element of compassion, the freedom to be “uncool” and get in contact with your deepest feelings. In the best situation, composer and performer talk to you on an intimate level, as though from one friend to another. That is something popular culture rarely or never offers. It is very easy to let children of all age groups feel this if the setting is intimate enough. Any big crossover projects or marketing strategies that promote performers of classical music in the same way as popular icons in my eyes destroy exactly the essence of so many classical pieces by externalising them and especially focusing on the person that is only the translator…


How would you rate the importance of the internet and new media for classical music?
I don`t know so much about these developments but have a very good feeling about the situation!


What’s your view on the relationship between musical education and classical music?
There is no denying that sometimes the language of classical music of all times is not easy, so a little grammar and enough listening and, in the best case, playing will help in being able to enjoy it. But I find it a big mistake that in school so much focus is on scales, harmony and formal aspects as opposed to finding why and how music through centuries has the ability to express all the different human emotions. How about a year in musical education in school were titled “Love” and children would compare Freddy Mercury,Tchaikovski,Schubert and Bach?


You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I would invite true artists - that would be the most important aspect...


How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?
After quite a few years of pain (both in the fingers of the left hand and a part of the right arm), it now for quite a while is a sensual relationship of great pleasure


Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I love playing the piano and I´m not very good at it.

Picture by Alexandra Vosding


Discography:
Alban Berg - Kammerkonzert für Klavier und Geige mit 13 Bläsern (Decca)
Tschaikowsky - Konzert für Violine und Orchester D-Dur op. 35 (Deutsche Grammophone)
Brahms - Violinkonzert D-Dur op. 77 / Joachim (Virgin)
Bach - Sonaten und Partiten für Violine Solo (NAXOS/Hänssler)
Beethoven - Violinkonzert, Violinromanzen (Sony/BMG)
Bartók - Violin Sonatas (Virgin/EMI)
Brahms - Spannungen: Musik aus dem KW (Virgin/EMI)
Sibelius Werke für Violine & Orchester (Virgin/EMI)
Tschaikowsky – Violinkonzert (PentaTone)
Dvorák - Violinkonzert a-moll op. 53 (Virgin/EMI)
Haydn – Violinkonzerte (Virgin/EMI)
Janacek - Sonate für Violine und Klavier (Virgin/EMI)
Janacek – Violinkonzert (Virgin/EMI)
Stuart MacRae – Violinkonzert (NMC)
Mozart - Violinkonzerte 1 & 2, Rondo, Adagio (Virgin/EMI)
Mozart - Violinkonzerte Nr. 3 – 5 (Virgin/EMI)
Matthias Ronnefeld - Am Abend tönen die herbstlichen Wälder (DACAPO)
Schubert - Klaviertrio No 2 (Cavi)

Homepage:

Christian Tetzlaff

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