Dec 17, 2013

MOZART/BRUCKNER – Cologne Philharmonie, Germany

To learn from the master


“„You conduct as if you were in front of a 100-head-orchestra. But this is an intimate matter. Do it with the eyes.” Less is more – time and again Jukka-Pekka Saraste returns to this issue, so often neglected by the up-and-coming new blood.  “Be more confident, beat less detailed,  give cues only for the major things.” Sure enough, the WDR’s chief conductor intervenes rarely, he lets things run their course, watches with crossed arms from the background. Certainly this is partly due to his disposition, likewise in concert the Finn is no man of grand gestures and emotional eruptions, but generally nurses a reduced style of communication. It seems crucial in this context that he wants to establish a “free, relaxed situation”.

… By the end of their trial conducting several contestants have broken into perspiration… To say something and to convey something is a different kettle of fish after all. This is where Saraste steps in: “You have to make the music interesting, not merely conduct.” He takes the baton from the master student and shows him how to do it – considerably snappier despite the rather short length of the beat. And lo and behold: Suddenly Stravinsky has the aggressive-comical bite it lacked before. It turns into – well – Stravinsky! So, indeed, there is something to learn for even the greatest talents.”

28 November 2013
Markus Schwering, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger