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The 'Voces Quartet' - on Stage at the Radio Hall
This evening you are going on stage of the Radio Hall again to continue Haydn's quartet series that you have been proposing for a long time. What exactly will the audience at the Radio Hall listen to?
After the first opuses which are wonderful - I mean the Quartets Op. 1 and Op. 2 - well, now we will perform the Quartets Op. 9, and we have chosen from them three masterpieces for this evening 's performance. We have made a brief selection and we will continue in this way until we get to the greater quartets - the famous Quartets Op. 17, Op. 51, Op. 76, and so on; as it's true that we're still talking about his first quartets, when papa Haydn - the founder of the classical quartet - was not actually clumsy, but had some parts that were not as good, to put it in this way. This is why, we have made a selection among them, and we will do the same for our next performances. Anyway, the great maestro's music is charming and you can be sure that the opuses that we picked will quickly go straight the audience's heart. On this occasion, I would like to thank our listeners for filling the hall in a larger number at every concert. I even think that, at a certain point in the future during this wonderful staging of chamber concerts featuring Haydn's complete Quartets cycle, we might have the surprise of filling the Radio Hall completely and have the tickets sold out. Of course, this would be a great joy for us and for the Radio team, as well.
We talked about this in the previous interview. The Radio Hall is always full at the Voces recitals. Considering the fact that we're talking about a chamber repertoire, which is different from what the Radio Hall usually proposes, can you tell us what the secret of this Quartet is? How does it always fill the Radio Hall?
First of all, everybody wonders how the Voces Quartet managed to break the 40-year barrier, four decades of activity. And I would actually like to thank those who posted the communication of this royal Haydn quartet performance, where they called us the 'longest living Romanian quartet'. I would like to thank them a lot; of course, there are a lot of other adjectives that could be added, but this is the secret - the one that I wanted to remain unknown - the quality of the performance itself, the strong personality of the Voces Quartet, its musical culture and the fact that in this world which is bombarded by all sorts of music - and I would not like to name them because you know very well that I'm thinking about manele too, and about other kinds of music which are full of noises as well, chaotic songs in a bewildered world - it's a cure of health, peace, and joy to be able to listen to a quartet which has proven its mastery for years by playing in the homeland of the quartets, in Salzburg, in Austria, playing the classical quartets, I mean Haydn's quartets, and of course Beethoven, Schubert, and so on. So this is the secret, in my opinion! Our audiences need this cure of peace, beauty, joy, calm, of a great artistic posture, after all.
Considering the fact that you mentioned your presence on important European stages and also the experience of the Voces Ensemble, I would like to ask you to compare the Romanian audience with the other ones you performed in front of?
The Romanian audience is a very though one. I am completely convinced that if the Romanian audience loves you, you can be sure that the German audience will love you as well, the English audience, the French audience and every other audience as well. There are audiences - and I mean the one in Bucharest, Iași, Cluj, Timișoara, Brașov and Sibiu - that already have the mark of quality and don't afford to lower their expectations under it. I think that this great audience which has risen with us can't be met anywhere else. I love it very much. The Romanian audience is very dear to me. Of course, there is a great audience at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, at the Wigmore Hall in London, at Herculesaal in Munchen and I can go on mentioning an endless number of halls; maybe the audience at RAI Turin, RAI Milan, RAI Rome and Santa Cecilia is a little more expansive or closer to us, having more of the warmth of the Romanian audience, but I feel very good here, at home, performing for my dear ones. This audience is dear to me because they can understand the music, they have a cultural background … I would only like to mention, for instance, the speed and the interest with which the tickets for the 'George Enescu' International Festival are being sold, and this is only the closest example; I could obviously give many others, no doubt .
Let us return to this evening's recital. Does it have an educational side, too?
Absolutely. Just take a look at how many young people, how many Conservatory students are in the audience, and I'm not referring only to students, but also to all the high quality music lovers. Where else today, except for the vinyl records of the famous Decani Quartet - the only one that I know of in the whole world who made a complete cycle of Haydn's quartets, where else can you listen to Op. 1, Op. 2, Op. 9, Op. 17, the opuses from the composer's youth? All the quartet ensembles perform the great quartets, the famous ones; they perform one quartet from the two famous Op. 51 and Op. 76 - but they don't perform Quartet Op. 76 entirely. They choose Quartet Op. 76, No. 1 or the Quartet Op. 76, No. 2. If they are closer, in Germany, they pick the famous, Op. 76, No. 3 (Emperor), which contains the German hymn in its second part… or Op. 77. It is obvious that everybody focuses on famous quartets, but just as interesting and famous - and here is the educational part - are these opuses from the composer's youth, in which you can see how the famous later quartets are being cooked in this mortar of Haydn's laboratory. I think this is very interesting.
Are Haydn's quartets fit for beginning musical studies with?
I don't think so. On the contrary, I believe that some quartet sketches or some rehearsals belonging to the great Mozart would be more suitable. Haydn's quartets are amazingly difficult, same as those composed by Beethoven in his youth. They are difficult through their simplicity itself. They are apparently simple, but for a quartet ensemble which is taking its first steps in perfecting itself in the chamber music field, they are extremely difficult quartets. They are hard to put together, their music is hard to sense, their technique is not a comfortable one as they are written for instrument players - I mean for violinists and especially the lead violin.
The members of the audience are already aware of the fact that we love them, we honour and respect them and we are expecting them at the Hall. The audience knows that we are performing so eagerly thanks to their quality as music lovers and especially for the joy of rising to their expectations. Of course, we are expecting them this evening as well as the next evenings , but the greater joy is encountering the great spirit of this hall, which is very inspiring for me - the Radio Hall, which I love not only because I used to work for the Radio for so many years, not only because the Voces Quartet is the national quartet of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation, not only because when we arrived in Bucharest, the first institution to protect us, like our mother and father when we needed it, was the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation. For all those reasons I am always greatly honoured to walk on this stage, which has the spirit of the great maestros that stepped on it. I would like to thank you for that.
Translated by Ioana Săbău and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, University of Bucharest