The Moldovan-born violinist talks to Toby Deller about sound, vision and changing the world through music

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

The following article is published as part of a larger cover feature with Patricia Kopatchinskaja in The Strad’s May 2017 issue, out now– download on desktop computer or order a copy of the magazine.

Kopatchinskaja admits that working with orchestras does not always provide the rewards of smaller-scale collaborations, partly because of her antipathy to their sheer size – she is suspicious of what she calls a ‘gigantomania’ dating back to the days of Strauss and Mahler – and partly owing to what she sees as entrenched working methods and attitudes to innovation within orchestras generally, even among the individual musicians

‘Especially orchestras with major experience of Romantic music that play under maestros who come from a traditional way of Romantic playing – I think they find it very unusual playing with me. I don’t satisfy people with their usual menu, the usual way of eating what they enjoy. I’m not young any more, and I had spent quite a long time fighting, suffering, asking myself what I was doing and actually, why I do it. Then at a certain point in my life I decided that it is not my duty to be liked and loved by everybody. My duty is only and alone to bring my vision of the piece with me.’

Watch: Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays Beethoven at Gstaad Menuhin Festival

Read: Dominik Wagner and Patricia Kopatchinskaja on writing their own cadenzas

Read: 'Art has space for everything', says Patricia Kopatchinskaja

It is not surprising, then, that she prefers working with smaller forces. ‘Something doesn’t become more important if you say it louder. You can say it very softly and it is still so strong that it can change the world. So that’s why I’m a bit cautious about big orchestras. Also, that’s why I recommend that composers do not write concertos for violin and huge orchestras. Smaller is better – Ligeti didn’t need a big orchestra; Michael Hersch, he didn’t need a big orchestra.’

To read the full Patricia Kopatchinskaja article download The Strad’s May 2017 issue on desktop computer or order a copy of the magazine.

Photo: Marco Borggreve