A. If you’re resolved to play this music, you’ve already answered a lot of the questions yourself. Because it does require a certain amount of courage from the orchestra and from the conductor to present themselves with this symphony, wherever you play it. But if you’ve got something special to say about this music, it’s extremely gratifying, because I think all the answers lie in the music itself. You don’t need to be looking for the answers somewhere outside the score. It’s all in the score.
Q. I think what you’re saying is that you don’t have to consciously make the piece novel. You just have to embrace it.
A. Like any great piece, you’ve got to get to the essence of it, and once you do, you’ve got to stop approaching it as an icon. It’s not an icon; it’s a living piece of art. And it does require a performer to be brought to life, like any piece, no matter how famous it is and how many performances it has had before. And there are things to be discovered. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But for yourself, that particular night you perform it, it’s got to be fresh and organic, and it’s got to come from the heart.
Q. In addition to your work with the LPO, Glyndebourne, and in Russia, you’re also a regular guest conductor with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. How does your involvement with early music affect your work with modern orchestras?
A. It’s a very fruitful symbiosis. You’ll hear it at the moment we start playing the Beethoven symphony. Not only do we use period timpani and trumpets and flutes, but also a very spare use of vibrato. I’m not against vibrato. I think it’s an important color in the orchestral palette. But it should be used consciously and responsibly.
For me, it’s but a part of my musical setup. I regard it as important for my musical development as my innate connection with the Russian or Romantic German tradition. I think we represent conglomerates of traditions which we have come in touch with in the course of our lives. It’s not what you represent; it’s what you make of it that’s so important.
David Weininger can be reached at email@example.com.