Showing posts with label Manchester Camerata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manchester Camerata. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Smile, please!

Meet Gabor Takács-Nagy, the inspirational secret weapon behind an ongoing transformation of ethos at the Manchester Camerata. If you're a fan of the Takács Quartet, you know Gabor already - he was its original first violin and it remains named after him long after he moved from the violin (due to an injury) to coaching and conducting. The Manchester Camerata's new season launches on 19 and 20 September with Nicky Benedetti as soloist in a little something by Vivaldi...and the starting point for the orchestra's self-reinvention is simpler than you might expect. As Gabor says: smile...and be ready to fall in love.

JD: Gabor, please tell us something about what “drives” you musically? I’ve heard you as violinist, conductor and teacher and I’d love to know what your ideals are and what qualities you think are vital in a musical performance.

GTN: The most important thing is to manipulate the emotions of the listeners (as Leopold Mozart wrote in 1756 – sending to them spiritual messages which are behind every note and phrase). In the score we find dead notes; we have to bring them alive. In other words, the composer feels an emotion or atmosphere and finds the notes for them; we performers find the (dead)  notes on paper and have to find the spiritual values behind each of them. This is fascinating and is what drives me – I am not a genius but hopefully have antennas to them. There is an Indian saying: 'You are as rich as much as you give.'  A musical performance, which is an emotional strip-tease, is nothing other than sharing and giving emotions and spirits.

JD: How did you come to join the Manchester Camerata? What is special about them, for you? What are your plans for the new season with them? And how would you like to develop your work with them in the longer-term future?

GTN: In 2008, Bob Riley, CEO of Manchester Camerata, invited me to conduct the new year’s concert and I felt a big affinity with the orchestra. They are very nice people and very good musicians and I knew immediately that we could make music as I just described . I‘d like to use fewer gestures in future performances and rehearsals and also to talk less because now we understand each other more and more. The mutual trust and confidence in each other could be even higher, which means we could be even more creative in the future.

JD: When the orchestra says that they wish to “redefine what an orchestra can do” - what do you feel this means? How would you like to see the orchestras of the future - or, indeed, the present - operating?

GTN: When I asked my young daughters if they like concerts of classical music, they answered, “No, because the music is nice but both the musicians and public are very stiff”. I had to agree with them. We have to be more communicative, open and emotional on stage, otherwise we will lose the next generation. Some years ago, I began presenting the pieces to the public and it makes the atmosphere more human and relaxed for both orchestra and public.

JD: The conductor Iván Fischer recently said (in an interview with The Times) that he thinks the traditional symphony orchestra model can last only another few decades, if that. What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree? How will things change?

GTN: I agree with Iván – if we don’t change drastically, we could lose the next generation.  We have to reform many things, but still manage to avoid circus-like activities.

JD: How is the musical scene of Hungary at the moment? Why is the place home to such a special tradition of musicianship - and does this still exist?

GTN: The Hungarian music scene is very alive: we have lots of brilliant musicians and the public loves classical music. The tickets are getting more expensive for an average wage but there are many free events as well. I hope the country will get stronger economically, which will help cultural activities. I do not know exactly what the secret could be of the special tradition of musicianship – one thing is true, though, which is that the Hungarians are very emotional with extremes of mood that can change abruptly. This is very useful for music-making!

JD: How can we best attract and excite new audiences with classical music in a world that seems so ignorant of it and resistant to the idea of it?

GTN: With exciting, emotional, colourful performances and with smiling faces from the stage. Classical musicians, especially in orchestras, can look far too serious. One of the reasons is the fear of making small mistakes which the public doesn’t hear anyway! It’s a long story.

JD: Please would you name a few of your favourite pieces?

GTN: My favourite piece is always the one I am working on (most of the time). If you study a masterpiece and get closer to it, sooner or later you will fall in love with it. During the performance, this love can be the generator for our energy and enthusiasm.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mozart, Manchester and one amazing man

Dear Manchester, do you have any idea how lucky you are having Gabor Takacs-Nagy aboard your very own Manchester Camerata? Probably the greatest string quartet leader I've ever seen, in the old Takacs Quartet days; an incredible inspiration in his masterclasses in Verbier; and he's second-in-command to Ivan Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Fabulous that today he is bringing to the orchestral world his conviction that you should never compromise in the mission to communicate the absolute wonder of great music with the audience. Here he sums up in a few words precisely what Mozart is all about.

Mozart with Gábor Takács-Nagy from Manchester Camerata on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

After the outage...

Our host site was down all yesterday and there's a lot to catch up on now. (Is the John Lewis warranty system also powered by Blogger? Today their system is down...as I know because our fridge is bust...)

First, the 'Classic Brits'. Whatever you think about their abandonment of those two little letters '-al', they had a handful of really good winners the other night. Best of all, Tasmin Little won the Critic's Award for her CD of the Elgar Violin Concerto (on Chandos). As you will know, dear readers, she also got a JDCMB Ginger Stripe Award for it last winter solstice. The disc is seriously, highly recommended. And since other awards went to Tony Pappano and Alison Balsom, things can't be quite so dreadful and doom-laden without those two little letters as many would have us think.

Next, James MacMillan's new chamber opera, Clemency. Fascinating to hear this so soon after the Berlioz Damnation of Faust, since it proves that less really can be more. A co-commission between the ROH, the Britten Sinfonia and Scottish Opera, it's spare, concentrated, highly characterised, and packs an extraordinary number of difficult questions into just 45 minutes of music. My review is in The Independent.

Over in Hungary, JDCMB favourite conductor Iván Fischer has given a warm endorsement to JDCMB other favourite conductor, Gábor Takács-Nagy (right), who has just been appointed principal guest conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. The news comes via the lucky old Manchester Camerata, where Gabor takes over as principal conductor in the season ahead. Iván says: "There will be a very important change in the life of the BFO from next season onwards. Gábor Takács-Nagy, who was our former concert master, has been nominated Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra. There are many conductors in the world who can get orchestras to play together but there are very few who can profoundly inspire. Gábor Takács-Nagy is one of them."

TODAY there's a live cinecast from The Met of Die Walkure starring Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund. Coming soon to a cinema near you, but if you can't get in there are a few 'encore' showings tomorrow and even Monday. Oh, and it also stars Deborah Voigt as Brunnhilde, Bryn Terfel as Wotan and Eva-Maria Westbroek (aka Anna Nicole) as Sieglinde. Playbill Arts has 20 Questions with Jonas Kaufmann, in which our tenor says rather charmingly that "every composer has weak und strong points". Intermezzo disapproves of his admission that he likes Dire Straits.

Faure fans who play the piano will be very glad to see Roy Howat's spanking new Urtext edition of Glorious Gabriel's Beautiful Barcarolles, all 13 of them, clearly and readably presented by Peters Edition and correcting all manner of mistakes, misreadings and misapprehensions that apparently crept into earlier publications. Roy's Faure editions have been arriving thick and fast over the past - well, probably a decade, come to think of it - and they're evidently a labour of love. This one may well tempt me back to the piano for a long-overdue wallow. Read more about it here.

And last but absolutely not least, my interview with the lovely South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza was in The Independent yesterday. Pumeza grew up in the townships of the Cape Town area in the last decade of apartheid. Next week she'll be singing at the Wigmore Hall in a showcase concert of the Classical Opera Company, and will be doing a duet with white South African soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon. That wouldn't have been possible in South Africa a couple of decades ago. Go hear them.

Now, about that fridge...