Monday 15 September 2014

Interviewing Julia Fischer and Martin Helmchen

In this recordingJulia Fischer and Martin Helmchen skilfully reveal what can be achieved when Schubert's violin and piano duos are given the right treatment: a wonderful piece of music, expertly performed. The release uniquely features Fischer as a pianist in Fantasia for Piano Duet D. 940. She had previously performed as a pianist in concert, but this was her recording debut.

We asked them a few questions about their successful collaboration and their connection to Schubert. 

What was it like to work together?
Martin: It is always both an enormous privilege and great fun to work with Julia, and I think most of our colleagues (and even conductors) would agree that you've learned a lot after every concert or rehearsal with her. And of course, a long-term collaboration like ours is something very valuable, because you get to grow together. 

Julia: Martin and I met a very long time ago and we have played and enjoyed numerous projects together. What I admire most about Martin is his modesty and pure passion. If you want to repeat something 100 times, he will still agree to do it and probably ask for the 101st time. On tour that quality brings the real enjoyment to a partnership, you never get into routine, but you always keep looking for other options, other solutions for musical problems. The same way of working applies to recording together. We are still on a journey: the cd is not the final result. It only shows where we were in that moment in our interpretation of Schubert. 


What was it like for both of you to have Julia also playing the piano for this recording?

Martin: Absolutely natural! I don't understand how it's possible to play a second instrument at such a high level… I personally have got a lot of troubles with one already!

Julia: Annoying for Martin I guess!! But I am grateful for the opportunity, he taught me fingerings and gave me technical tips. 


What does it mean to you to play Schubert's sonatas?

Martin: Schubert is one of the composers I personally feel the closest to. The pieces for violin and piano are not amongst his better known works, and that is another thing that is a particular joy for me - exploring and presenting the lesser known masterworks.

Julia: Somebody said "Schubert in his last pieces touched the border between human and God. Afraid that the composer might cross, God finished Schubert's life". That's how I feel when entering the C major Fantasy. 


Is there anything you wish you had done differently in the recording?

Martin: I must admit I tend to forget the "crimes of the past" quite quickly. A recording is always a momentary document, so I don't think about that topic too much.

Julia: Yes. But it's not in any way frustrating. Simply put, I continuously think about the pieces and I naturally play them a little differently every time.