Moldovan violinist Kopatchinskaja: 'Art should be alive'

Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:20am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja has already applied her virtuosity to a musical depiction of the Columbia shuttle disaster, down to the sounds of the rockets blasting the doomed craft into space and its disintegration on re-entry.

The stunning performance of Hungarian composer Peter Eotvos's 2006 concerto "seven" - so named for the seven astronauts who died in the 2003 disaster - was last year's Gramophone magazine recording of the year.

But performing a piece that at times seems to require the violin to disintegrate along with the shuttle is not enough for the restless and questing Kopatchinskaja. For her 37th birthday later this month, she will give the premiere of her first violin concerto in Berne, Switzerland.

It is dedicated to a friend, the Romanian pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa, who died suddenly a year and a half ago at the age of 33. Her death affected Kopatchinskaja so deeply that she said she got carried away composing the music and is not sure she can play it.

"It might be not very realistically written music, it's a utopia," Kopatchinskaja who has a penetrating gaze and is as spontaneous in an interview as she is in her concerts, told Reuters over coffee and biscuits at a London hotel. "It's something that ... shaped itself. It controlled me, I couldn't control what I wrote."

That intensity and spontaneity is very much a part of a phenomenon sometimes called "Patkop" by promoters seeking a shorthand for the unfamiliar Molodovan name of someone who is becoming ever more familiar in music circles.

During a recent visit to London, Kopatchinskaja added another arrow to her quiver by leading, as first violinist, the conductor-less Britten Sinfonia. She won thought-provoking reviews for performances of Brahms, Bartok, Janacek and the Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian.

"You can like or dislike her steely, confrontational timbre, her penchant for extremes, her almost pathological impulse to sway, jump, stamp or visually mirror every passing nuance," Richard Morrison wrote in The Times.   Continued...