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Interview with Vilde Frang

img  Tobias Fischer

Why did you opt for Sibelius and Prokofiev for your debut?
They definitely belong to the repertoire I enjoy playing the most. In a way, they represent two different universes: Sibelius is dramatic and passionate - almost like opera for a violinist. Prokofiev, on the other hand, is more like ballet music; lyrical and adventurous. Apart from these alluring contrasts, both concertos are incredibly lively music full of temperament.

The Sibelius Concerto was one of the works you grew up with. Is it still growing on you today?

Indeed, Sibelius has developed plenty of new artistic aspects inside of me over the years, and I do believe that as long as I keep growing, the work will keep growing for me as well. It's a process comparable to climbing a mountain, mounting it, and then becoming the mountain itself.

You've also mentioned that you feel a certain Scandinavian quality in the music of Sibelius which you can relate to ...
I think the loneliness, melancholy and sense of something abandoned, that characterizes Sibelius' music, represents all daunting feelings and moods from which one would like to escape. Take his symphonies and tone poems - the first violin Humoresque is a good example as well. Of course one could claim that these emotions are familiar for anyone. But for me personally, the music is strongly related to the desolated, unexplored beauty of the barren northern landscapes where we - Sibelius & me - grew up.

You've performed on stage for almost your entire life. How was the experience of recording an album, though?

When I went to the sessions, my first priority was to share the moment with the orchestra and the hall. I needed to create just that sense of performing live, in order to give my very best and enjoy it. Honestly, it felt as if it was a big dream and a little nightmare becoming true at the same time. I had suffered a serious hand injury only a few weeks before, but the last thing I wanted was to give up the project, so I played with constant pain, which was nerve-wrecking. The orchestra, however, was super-professional; having just a couple and-a half, very intensive days together with them, the sheer enthusiasm of the musicians was truly encouraging. We had a good chemistry, and the mood during the sessions was wonderful.

You're actively performing the Sibelius-portion of the album in concerts at the moment. Does it happen sometimes, after a successful performance, that you're thinking you would have liked to have done certain bits of the album differently?
I prefer to look forward to upcoming performances of these concertos rather than to get gray-haired by regretting all the details on my recording I would express differently or pay closer attention to today. I feel I've developed during the recording process, but I consider the album a finished chapter.

You're interested in dance and choreography as well. Wouldn't this interest in rhythm naturally lead you to material by minimalists like Reich and Glass?
It's actually not so much about rhythm and repertory as about the art that I am really keen to explore, and hope to stay connected with. Last year, I actually did take part in a production at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, playing Brahms concerto in a staging by Sweden's great choreographer Mats Ek. It was a fantastic chance for me to get to know an opera house inside out!

Speaking of Brahms; You once said you would like to maintain a lifelong relationship with him and composers like Bach and Beethoven. Why?

Because they have played a key role in my life as long as I can remember, and just like cucumbers consist of 98% water, I consist 98% of music. My life will always be based on it, whatever happens. And just like certain words or notions change meaning and value for me during life, so does classical music.

By Tobias Fischer

Image by Sussie Ahlburg

Vilde Frang Discography:
Sibelius & Prokofiev (EMI) 2010

Vilde Frang