You have already performed at the Elbphilharmonie. What is it like to play here?
I had the pleasure to play two concerts this year and it was a fantastic experience. The building is absolutely magical, I’ve seen many pictures of it before and some videos, but to finally be on stage performing the Haydn Cello Concerto was a really great experience. Now I’m actually very curious and excited to play the Dvořák Cello Concerto because performing a concerto alongside a chamber orchestra or a symphony orchestra are two very different things. So, I’m really looking forward to discover a new side to the hall tonight.
The building is absolutely magical.
During the entirety of the cello concerto's final movement is this last long breath where the cello plays deeper and deeper and the music slowly dies before rising up again towards heaven.
In your concert with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra on 30 August you will play the famous cello concerto by Antonin Dvořák. What do you like most about this concerto?
Of course, it’s one of the most famous cello concertos, if not the most important, for us cellists. The piece’s form is incredible, it’s almost a symphony. It is a huge work, in which the cello is of course the main character – a hero in actual fact – and we can feel the influence that America had on Dvořák as he wrote this concerto. Then there's the intimate character of the second movement, where the Czech theme is clearly affected by American incluences. Another thing which I like the most is the story which goes with the Dvořák Cello Concerto.
Dvořák had almost finished his cello concerto when he received a telegram informing him that his sister-in-law was dying. She was Dvořák's secret love. He was very affected and saddened by the news, and, top it off, didn’t have the time to go back to see her to say goodbye. Dvořák’s stuck in America, so what did he do? On the last page of the Dvořák Cello Concerto score, he added a clue to the secret love they were sharing for each other. During the entirety of the cello concerto's final movement is this last long breath where the cello plays deeper and deeper and the music slowly dies before rising up again towards heaven. I think it’s really magical.
What are your favorite recordings of the Dvořák Cello Concerto?
There are many, there is not one that I love particularly. And there are many of them that I love for many different reasons. Starting with cellists like Slawa (Rostropovich), Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pré, Leonard Rose, Pierre Fournier – all those cellists that I really admire. Each of them touch me for different reasons.
You have visited Hamburg many times – how do you feel about this city and what is your favourite spot?
Well, I must say the view of the Elbphilharmonie from the water is really something absolutely magical. Hamburg is a great city, I really like it. My favourite spot? Yesterday I had a beautiful jog around the lake – that was really great. The climate was nice, people were walking, some families were sitting the park, there lots of boats and kids were learning to sail on the lake. It was a really beautiful atmosphere.
Your concert is part of the Elbphilharmonie Summer Festival. What is your idea of a perfect summer day? And which piece of music is the perfect accompaniment?
Maybe no music, maybe silence for once. Silence is beautiful music I think, once in a while. We live in a society where there is always either music or noise and I think silence sometimes is really beautiful. A perfect summer day would be a day with my family in the mountains or at the sea, enjoying, relaxing, laughing and sharing beautiful moments together.
Interview: Julia Mahns
Silence is a beautiful music.