An Evening with Krivine

We spent some time catching up with our new Principal Guest Conductor, Frenchman Emmanuel Krivine. He gave us an insight into his life as an international conductor, both on and off the podium.

KRIVINE Emmanuel Principal Guest Conductor You have worked with many of the greatest orchestras and soloists in the world today – Steven Isserlis, Martha Argerich, Maria João Pires, Berlin Philharmonic, Chamber Orhcestra of Europe, Royal Concertgebouw… Now looking back to the start, who were your musical influences when you were growing up? Who are your musical ‘idols’ now?
My role models when I was young were Fischer-Dieskau, Furtwängler, Fritz Reiner, Victor de Sabata, Solti; later I was very interested by G.Leonhardt, Norrington, Harnoncourt, Gardiner and I have utmost respect and admiration for Kleiber, Abbado, Muti...

Every conductor has a different approach to the music they conduct. How do you approach a score? What’s the first thing you do when you open the score for the first time?
I approach a score by asking myself what the composer would want to hear, and itis also for this reason that I am interested in period instruments. But before looking at what lies within each score in detail, I look at the whole framework of the piece, and then I can flesh it out. I analyse exactly what’s happening before trying to imagine what it will sound like.

The way that the players of the SCO listen together makes it such a model orchestra and means that the conductor can simply guide the music.

You are founder and musical director of La Chambre Philharmonique, a period instrument chamber orchestra in Paris. What interests you the most about working with a chamber orchestra?
For me, the ‘Chamber Orchestra’ is the perfect model. Every orchestra should work like a chamber orchestra, whether they are Symphony or Philharmonic! Even these words should not really exist. We should talk about groups of musicians large or small who listen to each other in the same way. The way that the players of the SCO listen together makes it such a model orchestra and means that the conductor can simply guide the music without having a huge weight to carry along.

You’re next with the SCO in May conducting the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Albanian violinist Tedi Papavrami. Have you collaborated with Tedi before? What do you like about working with him?
I have worked often with Tedi Papavrami who I like very much for his intellectual honesty, his thoughtfulness and his full-bodied playing. We have just recorded Bartók with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. It was a beautiful experience and I look forward to returning to it with Sibelius.

Krivine with SCORecently, Jurgen Klopp (the new manager of Liverpool Football Club) said in an interview that football isn’t life or death. He said of his fans, “We have to entertain them – we have to make their lives better… It’s our job to let them forget their problems for 90 minutes.” Do you believe you have a similar responsibility as a musician to your audiences?
Football is a sport and music an art. They have little in common, other than taking part. Music can be enjoyed through listening, just as much as playing. One doesn’t exist without the other. Having an audience listening really influences the musicians’ playing because they are getting something back. Also, contrary to what one might believe, an audience in a concert hall is perhaps more active than one in a stadium, although it cannot be heard as much!

It's great fun working with Krivine. He's got a great sense of humour and his concerts are always memorable - very free and lots of energy!
Eric de Wit, SCO Cello Player.

Do you ever attend concerts as an audience member? Does that change your perspective on what you do on the stage?
I go to concerts of classical music very rarely because I am constantly torn between the stage and the audience to wonder what I would have done here or there. However, I love jazz concerts. I’m not there in any way trying to “judge” or analyse what is happening. I can be totally receptive.

What do you enjoy about working with the SCO?
That’s simple: they play well; they have a familial ambience; they are very relaxed. The quality of an orchestra is all about their attitude of listening, and the SCO are good listeners. They actually like music. You can’t always say that. Even the grandest orchestras can become routine. The SCO hasn’t become routine. They are very open-minded. They don’t judge. That’s very nice for me. I don’t have to be a pedagogue. I can just play music with them.
Krivine smiling

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Krivine next conducts the SCO in May 2016 when he closes the SCO Season with a programme of Mussorgsky, Sibelius and Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’.