You have a vast repertoire. It reveals much of what we don’t know about the endless riches of that still-undiscovered world we call the Baroque. What has changed, what has evolved since your earliest interpretations?
Everything depends upon one’s vantage point. There is a vast difference between whether you are among those who listen or those who perform. And yet one must acknowledge that, granting continuing interest, the Baroque repertoire has by now carved out its legitimate place. It has become a stable and permanent repertoire in professional circles as well as with the discerning musical public.
From the point of view of the practicing musician, what at the outset required a lot of time, research and technical skill has gradually become easier, more natural. Stylistically and technically delicate at the outset, the orchestra’s role in Lully and Rameau now presents fewer obstacles. The first experiments have borne their fruit: instrumental playing has become more supple, throwing off evident impressions of “tension” or of “effort”. I had occasion recently to listen to some recordings of Duke Ellington from 1938-1939. His orchestra was made up of some forty instrumentalists. They were absorbed in their music; they were permanently immersed in their interpretation. But it was the natural ease of their playing that was remarkable. Such naturalness flowed from their familiarity with their repertory.
I first became acquainted with American orchestras in the years 1950-1960. They were made up of mature musicians whose experience afforded them perfect ease in the classical and romantic repertoire. They were, for the most part, men and women refugees who had fled Hitler’s regime. They were the finest of the German instrumentalists of the time. I recall concerts directed by Jospeh Krips in minor American towns; the music flowed with a nobility and a sense of tradition which seemed entirely natural: composers like Mozart, and Richard Strauss breathed naturally.
I believe we have acquired again today a mode of execution, I should like to say even a “tradition”, which allows us now to interpret Baroque music with that same naturalness.
I believe that one may no longer confront four, much less five, centuries of music with the same instrument; it is no longer tenable to approach Biber, Bach, Bartók in the same fashion.
Today even more than before certain musicologists and musicians try to downgrade the importance and value of our work, and all the more so because the skeptics have at hand historical evidence and precise elements concerning early techniques which our own research, we baroquiens, have indisputably brought to light so far as style and interpretation are concerned.
Your excellence resides in your capacity to recapture the soul, the fragility of the distant seventeenth century and the brilliance of the eighteenth century. Your musical sympathies extend even to Mozart, having interpreted the Flute and the Marriage. And why not Così fan tutte? Will you continue with Mozart, and explore other composers?
I should like of course to approach repertoires which continue the Baroque movement. Mozart, of course. But one should also mention Haydn who, let me remind you, was already thirty at the death of Rameau. After Haydn, even Beethoven can be included in the same lineage.