Kopatchinskaja, Currentzis and others take pieces from the past, and make them modern
In his feature about Patricia Kopatchinskaja in the new issue of Gramophone, Andrew Mellor recalls her appearance at the Gramophone Awards in 2012. There have been many memorable performances at our annual event, but this is one that seems to get mentioned to me more than most. Perhaps this is because it was the first time many present had seen or heard (or even heard of) her. Which would have mattered little if the performance hadn’t been quite so compelling: it thrilled, fascinated and stuck in the mind. Just as music-making should do. At any rate, it paved the way nicely, if coincidentally, for Kopatchinskaja to win Recording of the Year 12 months later. And it means that every time a new recording by her is released, we (and I hope you too) greet it with intrigued anticipation. Her recordings haven’t all been acclaimed in our pages, but then artistry which seeks to challenge and explore afresh will often divide opinion. Her new disc, ‘Deux’, is triumphantly true to what she stands for. If, at Gramophone, one of our aims – I’d argue responsibilities – is to champion the younger artists really setting out to rethink and shape the way we hear music, then I can think of few musicians more worth celebrating than Kopatchinskaja.
It doesn’t stop there. Last issue’s Recording of the Month was an extraordinary release by conductor Teodor Currentzis of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6, the Pathétique. A musician who single-mindedly sets out to reconsider how music – whether orchestral or opera – should be heard and recorded, it’s no surprise that he’s also a collaborator of Kopatchinskaja’s. What unites them both is just how strongly they embody the belief that all musicians should hold, that the ‘classics’ are not mere pieces of the past, but works of today, to be heard anew and afresh in the 21st century.
In a different sort of way, it was also wonderful to see another artist we’ve championed – Igor Levit, 2016’s Recording of the Year recipient – recently honoured by one of the most prestigious (and valuable) of grants offered by the music world, the Gilmore Prize. His playing is just as revelatory as that of Kopatchinskaja and Currentzis, but in a different way: less shock and surprise, more a sense of reflective insight and a convincing feeling that it’s exactly how the music should be played. The sort of sense one gets from, say, a Murray Perahia recording: only, remarkably, from someone aged just 30.
Of course, while celebrating the ideas of (relative) youth it’s vital – in music, and generally – to guard against dismissing the wisdom and insight brought about by age and experience. Thankfully, however, music is one field where the art of our elders is rightly respected and revered, and also one where those very grandees are so often passionately committed to supporting the journeys of their successors.
The artists named above are just a few of the many who are shaping music-making for the future. They are all already famous, but we’re also committed to highlighting those at an even earlier stage. Readers of the magazine may have noticed our reintroduced One to Watch column these past few months: I hope that some of the artists featured will be those we can look forward to gracing Gramophone’s cover in the years ahead.