Classical musicians can learn a lot from jazz – we’re really just little recreators
Isaac Stern, Alexander Schneider, Milton Katims, Paul Tortelier, Pablo Casals
Schubert String Quintet, second movement
The Schubert String Quintet is the whole reason I wanted to become a musician. After studying the cello for about two years, I was allowed to play through the piece with my father and some of his colleagues in 1980 – it was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had. Afterwards, my father gave me an LP of Casals and Tortelier playing it, and I’ve been in awe of them ever since.
Vladimir Horowitz, NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini
Brahms Piano Concerto no.2, second movement
Until the age of 16, I was actually a better pianist than cellist, and Vladimir Horowitz was one of my heroes. I also loved Brahms’s music, and the cello solo in the slow movement of the Second Piano Concerto is based on one of his songs, which my mother used to sing when I was child, with me accompanying her.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Böhm
When I was 17 or 18, I was alone in the house and received a phone call saying that my little brother had been hit by a car. My mother saw the whole thing. He survived, but it was a terrible experience. Two weeks later, she had to sing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in a concert, and she completely fell apart. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is not only a wonderful singer but also a fantastic actor, but I can’t listen to his performance too often, otherwise I get very distressed.
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Philharmonia Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
Strauss Der Rosenkavalier
I used to sing the ending of Der Rosenkavalier with my mother when I was about 12 or 13, accompanying us both on the piano – I knew it by heart. I can’t sing at all any more – well, I do sing, but my wife tells me to stop immediately.
My wife introduced me to Esperanza Spalding’s music, and we listen to her a lot. Spalding is a complete musician – she sings and plays, improvises and composes. I often feel like classical musicians can learn a lot from jazz – we’re really just little recreators.
Photo: Sim Canetty Clarke