Kristjan Järvi interview
Fabienne Morris caught up with conductor Kristjan Järvi ahead of the concert on Sunday 17 April to find out what’s in store…
On the concert as a whole
It’s a great combination of tradition and innovation. It’s for those who want to come and hear something really eventful and exciting – an atypical classical concert. It’s also got finer details and a rarity aspect that will appeal to classical music aficionados: a taste of some standard repertoire but not in the usual context. 1919 is the Firebird suite that everybody knows – this 1945 suite isn’t normally heard. The El amor brujo Three Dances aren’t normally heard either, certainly in a concert setting – they're done as a complete ballet with a singer or just not done at all! This concert offers something for everybody – for the musicologist and for the person who just wants to be entertained.
On Michael Daugherty’s Fire and Blood
It’s a type of music you’ll have never heard before. Basically it’s not even classical music, it’s orchestral, acoustic music played on classical instruments. It’s rhythmic, it’s driven, it tells a story. It’s all about these three murals in the Detroit Institute of Art, by Mexican modernist, Diego Rivera. The background is really fascinating. The movements are named after the murals. The first is ‘Volcano’ – and it’s suitably explosive! The second is ‘River Rouge’, and the last one is ‘Assembly Line’, inspired by the industrial nature of Detroit. ‘River Rouge’ also incorporates a biographical element, being based on the life of Frida Kahlo, Rivera’s artist wife; the second melody is even called ‘Kahlo’s melody’. Anyone who enjoyed the film Frida (2002, starring Salma Hayek) should definitely come and hear this. It was actually Diego Rivera himself who predicted that his murals could be turned into music. He said:
‘In my ears, I heard the wonderful symphony which came from factories where metals were shaped into tools for men’s service. It was a new music, waiting for the composer … to give it communicable form.’
Michael Daugherty is the composer who made it happen! Michael and I know each other personally – I’m looking forward to him coming to the concert, he’s super cool. His other pieces include Route 66, Sunset Strip, UFO, Hell’s Angels – all works based on pop culture. He’s someone who is very connected to the street – at least, his ear is close to the street. He’s very much following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Reich and Adams, who established the whole movement of a more cross-genre-based American music. He takes this idea even further, but still maintains the classical idiom. This music is for the people and written with the people in mind. I think it’s one of the best violin concertos written in the past ten years, for sure. Maybe even 20. The composer made an almost clean sweep at the Classical Grammy Awards this past year. This composition is getting its UK premiere this Sunday, so it will definitely be an event.
On Falla’s El amor brujo
The Mexican mariachi band that we hear in Daughtery’s piece links us to the first piece on the programme – Falla’s flamenco work, El amor brujo. Southern Spain basically shaped Falla’s whole musical output. He was so proud of it. This music is super emotional, super engaging and very exciting. It’s really going to have people on the edge of their seats.
On Vadim Gluzman
Vadim is one of the most friendly, fantastic younger generation violinists around right now. He is already very established, but is making his LSO debut. We have a great relationship; I asked him to learn this concerto. It's one of the great perks of being in a close relationship with an artist – they will do something which isn’t the standard repertoire if you have this incredible connection. And he isn’t investing his time and energy into learning a very hard concerto for nothing. In my opinion, and in his as well, this is going to be one of the big violin concertos of the future. The piece was premiered by my father, Neeme Järvi, in Detroit, and commissioned by the Detroit Symphony – Michael was composer in residence there. Vadim told me that he was once driving near Chicago. He said ‘I was listening to this really cool violin concerto on the radio. I had no idea what it was and I was thinking "Wow, I’d like to play a piece like that one day"’. It turned out to be the premiere performance of Fire and Blood that was being broadcast. Vadim couldn’t believe that I was now asking him to play that same piece – so you see, it’s meant to be!
There are still tickets available for this Sunday's concert (17 April, 7.30pm) – click here for full information and to book online, or call the Box Office on 020 7638 8891.
Read more about Vadim Gluzman, 'The Accidental Virtuoso', in today's Jewish Chronicle article.