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BILL NEWMAN in conversation with Petr Altrichter


<< Continued from last week

Readers might question Altrichter's adherence to style and vibrati for his concerts with the Royal Liverpool Phil in non-Czech repertoire. I found no faults either in his direction or their performances, a tribute to his leadership and their superb playing.

I think they are very receptive when you ask them for romantic feeling as well as tenderness at the beginning of Scheherazade. 'Do you know why I sing them the opening bars?' -- his dressing-room rendering is full of ardour -- 'which they play too ponderously, and every International orchestra slurs the three chords together..' by now we are all laughing, gleefully.. 'If they play Russian music, we have to be Russian. If we play Mahler, we have to be from Vienna!'

But how do you teach them to play Mahler, particularly Mahler 5 which has become a warhorse for conductors and orchestras throughout the world? None of them now, including Rattle, get it absolutely right. What is the secret -- tell me? 'I don't know how I conduct it, but it is important to understand the composer: why he wanted this music, and did he really mean it. You have to find your own dialogue with Mahler's vision. It is not whether that person is right and I am wrong. At twenty you find a way, at forty another, yet another if am performing a work for the first time, and now, this is interesting but probably not for the audience. You are finding something, but it is getting weak after many performances. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right attitude. It is holding back yet growing always. Then, all of a sudden ..ahhh.' He smiles ruefully. The message is getting through.

'By chance. It is like a flash of the moment. I've been to St Florian in Austria, had coffee in Vienna. I saw Bucharest and it was something, but until now I had forgotten everything about it. I don't have the courage to say I know ... but maybe, maybe. There is another area -- church music -- this also you can confront.' Does this provide the spontaneity for Bruckner 8 that you are shortly performing? 'Oh, this was my present from the Phil for my leaving. They gave it to me.'

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Copyright © 5 July 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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