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29 October 2012, 17:33 | Updated: 31 October 2012, 11:14
Scary music, Vivaldi's concertos, tips for young musicians - you posed your questions to violinist Daniel Hope, who took some time out of his busy rehearsal schedule to chat to us.
Daniel Hope stars on a new album of music by Max Richter, Recomposed. He explained what it's like playing a new version of The Four Seasons, offered advice to young musicians, and as a Halowe'en treat, gave us an idea of his scariest pieces of classical music! See what happened when we joined with listeners from 9am on 31 October to interview the talented violinist.
Classic FM: Can I first ask about your latest album, the new Max Richter / Vivaldi 'Recomposed' project. (John Brunning’s playing a track every day on Drive!) Who would you say is the composer, Vivaldi or Richter?
Daniel Hope: Definitely Richter. It is his very personal take on Vivaldi's masterpiece, The Four Seasons. There are elements of both, but Max has left his mark.
You must be very familiar with the original Four Seasons - How are the two 'versions' different, would you say?
I've played The Four Seasons since I was a boy. The Richter version is very different indeed. I think Max said that he 'discarded' around 90% of the 'material'. And yet he has done it with great respect to the original. You always feel that Vivaldi is somehow present, and yet Max gives a totally new colour to one of the greatest works ever written. The new version throws in some curves and also pays tribute to many different styles of music, in addition to baroque.
Parsons Books & Music: Of all your recordings over the years, which stands out as particularly special to you personally?
That's a tough one - each recording is, in a sense, like a child. It means a great deal. The Romantic Violinist was a particularly special experience for me. And I've just completed a new album, called Spheres, which comes out in early 2013 - that was an extraordinary collaboration.
Classic FM: Yes, we wanted to ask you about your latest album, if we're allowed to talk about it... Can you explain what's behind it?
The new project, Spheres, celebrates the idea, first brought forward by Pythagoras, that planetary movement creates its own kind of music. This idea has fascinated philosophers, musicians, and mathematicians for centuries. The CD offers music in a variety of styles – from Baroque to minimalist and chill – by Bach and Fauré, contemporary composers like Arvo Pärt and Michael Nyman, and up-and-coming composers who have written new works for me, based on the idea of spherical music. These include Gabriel Prokofiev, Ludovico Einaudi, Alex Baranowski, and Aleksey Igudesman. I was particularly lucky to be joined by the Berlin Radio Choir and Simon Halsey, as well as the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin.
Classic FM: It sounds like an interesting project! Did you pick the artists and composers who took part? What inspired your choices?
Yes, I selected every piece and composer. Many of them are friends, like Karl Jenkins and Ludovico Einaudi. Others had written music that I like, and that fitted in to that idea of 'other wordly' music. And we took some contemporary arrangements of Bach and Westhoff by young composers too.
Elaine James: What's your favourite classical piece of all time to listen to?
Wow, the questions are getting even tougher this morning! Can't really answer that, only because it changes all the time. Some of them though are: Beethoven Violin Concerto, Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Mozart Requiem, Brahms Violin Concerto, Schubert String Quintet... the list is long!
Elaine James: OK, I'll let you have three that you couldn't imagine never hearing again?!
Schubert, Beethoven Violin Concerto and Bach Goldberg Variations.
Daniel Ross: Morning Daniel! You must have an extremely busy schedule, so do you still find time to do regular practice? How many hours a day would you normally spend practising on average?
Morning Daniel. Practice is the be-all and end-all: without it, there is no way you can get up on stage. Given my schedule that makes it tricky, but never impossible. Fortunately I can practice any where, mostly hotel bathrooms with a practice mute. On a travel day I try to fit in 2 hours. Non-travel day, 4 hours.
Classic FM: Hotel bathrooms! Brilliant! On that note - where's the weirdest place you've ever played?
Weird would have to be a private drilling island in the United Arab Emirates. Unusual but inspired was an outdoor concert in the Dolomites, in the forest in which Stradivari selected his wood. Good thing about hotel bathrooms is that you can close the door!
Classic FM: So, as it's Hallowe'en, we have to ask you: what do you think is the scariest piece of classical music of all time?
There are a few: Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns, last movement of Erwin Schulhoff's String Sextet, Shostakovich Symphony No. 15 is pretty bleak...
Classic FM: Brilliant! We've just got time for a few more questions... you mentioned you're recording works by young composers on 'Spheres' - have you got any advice for young people who are just getting into classical music?
Never give up would be my first piece of advice! Every one gets rejected at some point. As far as performing is concerned: the re-engagement is even more important than the engagement. And, it doesn't matter how small or out of the way the concert venue is: you NEVER know who might be sitting in the audience!
Gerard Nicholls: For a pianist, do you have any recommendations for some great violin & piano duets? Or any other chamber music featuring both the piano and violin?
There are literally thousands! Check out the Sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart. Also the Bach Sonatas with accompaniment are amazing.
There's so much more we'd love to ask, but we should probably let you get back to your four (!) hours of practice! One final question from us: what's coming up in the pipeline for you?
I just guested on Einaudi's new album which was a real experience. Next week I am off the play Elgar in Moscow with Pletnev and the Russian National, and then it's lots of Vivaldi Recomposed in New York. I invite you all to check out my festival in Savannah, USA. www.SavannahMusicFestival.org - 100 concerts in 17 days, every music genre. It's a blast!
Elaine James: Are you likely to do 100 concerts in 17 days over here? Or never again?!
I should add that it's not only me doing those concerts, but also hundreds of musicians!
Silvana Pérez Kaiser: What do you eat before a concert to have enough energy to play for such a long time?
Great question! Pasta!
Classic FM: Well, Daniel, it's been great to chat - thanks for answering our questions, and best of luck with your upcoming concerts. We're looking forward to playing another track from the 'Recomposed' album tonight on Drive, from 5pm.
Many thanks. It was a lot of fun!
Have you got any burning classical music questions? Don't forget, we'll be hosting another web chat next Wednesday at 9am, so come back and join in the fun.