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Classical Music

A Conversation With Christian Tetzlaff

More Bartok, less Bar Talk: violinist Christian Tetzlaff explains modern music, contemporary instruments, and, of course, discusses his upcoming concert here in Houston.


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  • Christian Tetzlaff (Photo Credit: ©Giorgia Bertazzi)
    Christian Tetzlaff (Photo Credit: ©Giorgia Bertazzi)
  • Pianist Lars Vogt (Photo Credit: Felix Broede)
    Pianist Lars Vogt (Photo Credit: Felix Broede)
  • Christian Tetzlaff (Photo Credit: ©Giorgia Bertazzi)
    Christian Tetzlaff (Photo Credit: ©Giorgia Bertazzi)

“There’s something about a duo recital, if one really sees it as two equal partners, that is exciting exchange onstage,” says famed violinist Christian Tetzlaff, of playing with his friend and musical partner, Lars Vogt. The two, who have played together for nearly twenty years, will be making their Houston recital debut on February 16th. They’ll perform works by Beethoven, Bartok, Mozart, and Schubert.

Check out the highlights from our conversation below, and listen to the complete interview above.

On the repertoire he’ll be presenting in Houston:

“On paper, it looks pretty straightforward, and even conservative if you go through the names, but the actual content of at least three of the pieces is astounding and unusual for even those composers. The [Bartok] Second Sonata…is a strange and wonderful piece of mysterious moods, and I’m not even pretending that I know what I’m playing here, it’s like a dreamscape.”

On bringing nontraditional works to the recital hall:

“It’s all about the connection with the audience and about the belief the performer himself has in the work and how clearly he spells out the emotions of the piece. Trying to understand what the composition is about, what the composer is telling us, and then fiercely believing in it.”

On looking to the score for inspiration:

“The moment I’m really on track of the composer’s mind, that gives me much more freedom than doing anything that I would do simply out of myself, because he lifts me up and he shows me things that I didn’t even know existed before, so that’s a great relief.”

On constantly seeking to improve :

“The moment you think I know this has to be only this way, and this is the best sound and the best emotion I can give it, you’re of course wrong…with conductors, with my chamber music partners, especially in my string quartet, there are four people with totally equal, right opinions, and constant work on each other to get to the depth of the matter, so that’s where I get my daily lessons.”

Da Camera presents Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt on Thursday, February 16th at 8pm at the Cullen Theater, at the Wortham Theater Center.

Music featured in this segment is excerpted from Bartok’s Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, Sz. 76, recorded by violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (Virgin Classics 45668).