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15 Questions to the Duo Tal & Groethuysen

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! Thanks, we are fine. We are back in Munich.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Right now, we have a pretty busy schedule. The first two weeks of June we spent in Latin America on a concert-tour through four countries (Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru and El Salvador) organized by the German and Israeli embassies to celebrate the 40th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. And just yesterday we returned from a one-week-trip to Norway where we held a master class and also gave a concert.

The Klavier-Festival Ruhr is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
That we are very much looking forward to coming to Essen and playing a very special programme with four-hand piano transcriptions by Johannes Brahms: First 20 Landler by Schubert, then the Piano Quartet by Schumann and in the second half Brahms´own first Piano Concerto – a transcription which works amazingly well.

Which of the other performances will you definitely attend?
We are very sorry, but our schedule doesn´t allow us to listen to any of the other concerts – it´s really a shame.

One of the Festival’s ideas seems to be that the perception of (Classical) music be altered by the use of unusual locations. What’s your point of view on this?

As far as professional conditions are offered we support all of those ideas, since audiences tend to appreciate other locations, enjoying other atmospheres, other surroundings, even another kind of fellow-listeners.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
The atmosphere of a hall is one of the most important issues: People should feel well, concentrated but not forced to behave in a stiff, unnatural way. The acoustics of course are of great importance: The sound must reach every seat as clearly as possible.
Besides all this: Of greatest importance is the interaction between artist and audience: the more an audience is prepared for the programme of a concert and the more an artist is able to transport– intellectually or artisticly - his or her ideas of the music, the better the performance will work.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
The hardest is the best at the same time: To be so close to wonderful music means intense work on the subject with all the challenges and frustrations such work in general implies, but at the same time means the relieve and the joy when your work succeeds and you are getting closer and closer to the idea of that music.
Of course, there are some other difficult aspects in the life of a musician –to mention only two: You have to be sold on the market like any other “product”; and you have to fight against bad taste, ignorance and arrogance.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
It seems that the concurrence of all the new media, the easy access to popular music means a very hard competition for classical music which takes much more time to understand and to feel well with. Nevertheless there are signs of hope that also nowadays-kids find their way to classical music – supported of course by most sofisticated programs (as the documentary of “Rhythm is it” demonstrates, or for example the famous youth orchestras in Venezuela).

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
To a certain extend that point of view is hard to refute. On the one hand, never in musical history could you have a better synopsis of all that has been written, but on the other hand quite a lot of interesting  and stimulating music is still out there which has not yet been recorded. And many pieces have not yet found their ultimate interpretation!

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

To try to find out – in modesty and sincerity – what the composer wanted to say and then to transport that idea through your own personality and individuality.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
As far as those emotions are in correlation with the style of that music – they should! An artist is not a robot, of course! But to find the right balance certainly is a matter of taste and education.

True or false: “Music is my first love”

It´s hard to say: There is also a life besides music...

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
I tend to think so. Isn´t it always the case: The more experience and knowledge you have, the more you can appreciate something?

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
Also not easy to say, because special ideas sometimes are difficult to sell. But there were several interesting themes to build programmes on: The musical “Jugendstil”; Max Reger and his idols Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms; German and French music between first and second world war; The “opus 1” of great composers...

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
(Andreas Groethuysen) When I was in school, I played first the violin and then the viola but never brought that to any perfection. It was just enough to play in the school orchestra...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: "Works for 2 pianists - Volume I" (2005) Sony
Max Reger: "Suite op.16, Stücke op.94" (2004) Sony
Robert Schumann / Johannes Brahm: "Inspiration & Adoration" (2004) Sony
Children´s Corner, Little four-hand piano pieces (2002) Sony
Charles Koechlin: "Works for two pianists" (2001) Sony
Richard Wagner: "Transcriptions for four hands" (2001) Sony
Franz Schubert: "Complete works for piano four hands on 7 CDs" (1997) Sony
Johannes Brahms: "Hungarian Dances, Waltzes" (1997) Sony
Théodore Gouvy: "Works for piano four hands" (1994) Sony
Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Hensel: "Works for piano four hands" (1993) Sony
Max Reger: "Works for piano four hands" (1992) Sony
Dvorak, Rubinstein, Rachmaninow: "Works for piano four hands" (1992) Sony
Carl Czerny: "Works for piano four hands" (1991) Sony
Johann Nep.Hummel: "Works for piano four hands" (1991) Koch/Schwann

Duo Tal & Groethuysen

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