Which instrument « sings » the best, according to you, in the transcriptions of these works?
What a question for a cellist! In any case, following the natural breathing of the singer remains one of the challenges of this repertoire. The movement of the bow may perhaps more naturally reproduce the singing side of this music than the piano. However, recreating the speaking aspect of the singer’s art, where each syllable is pronounced, potentially requires more attention for the string players than for the pianist, who plays on an instrument that, by its nature, articulates each note.
What is your favorite work on the program?
A difficult choice, because all of the works have their distinct qualities and invite us to enter into such particular musical, stylistic and historical moods. However, if I have to make a choice, it must be the Scenes from Tristan by Alfred Pringsheim (1850-1941).
Mathematician, artist and wealthy Jewish-German patron of the arts, Pringsheim maintained a personal correspondence with Wagner and even supported his projects financially, including the festival in Bayreuth. Already very old, Pringsheim was obliged to leave Germany for Switzerland in 1939, but lost his fortune because of the « desertion tax » (Reichsfluchtsteuer), the tax limiting the exit of capital from the country, especially targeting Jews. His only production as a composer consists of a handful of transcriptions of Wagner’s operatic works for small ensembles.
Tristan is such a mythical work – probably the greatest love story in the entire history of Western music, but also, of course, one of the key works in the evolution of music itself due to its new musical language. Like the forbidden desire between Tristan and Isolde, the music never rests; each phrase overlaps with the next.
The tension of the omnipresent chromaticisms and the unique color of the famous « Tristan Chord » increase the drama.
If you had to be an opera character, which one would you choose?
Things turned out badly for Don Giovanni in the end, but we can say that he had a lot of fun along the way!
End of the 20th season … what will the 2019-2020 season look like?
For the coming season, we will mainly explore the way that chamber music allows us to travel through time and space.