Ez történt

Shostakovich’s ineffable dreams

2002. 04. 06.

The cellist Clemens Hagen performs at the National Philharmonic Orchestra's concert on Sunday

Clemens Hagen, the Salzburg cellist will play Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto tomorrow evening at the Music Academy with the National Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Zoltán Kocsis. The concert will be followed by Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. Clemens Hagen has toured the world from the United States to the Far East both with the Hagen Quartet (founded with his sisters) and as a soloist.

– You began your career very young at the age of five. Coming from a musical family, was it natural for you to continue your parent's profession and take up a musical career?
– It really was like that, by all means, I was orientated towards a life in music.
– Why did you choose the cello?
–  My father was a musician, and so studying music was self explanatory for us. When my sisters began learning instruments, I was five years old and also got the urge to learn. Since one of my friends, who was studying with my father, played the cello, I chose this instrument myself. My father did not force me to take up a musical career; that I took this path was my own independent choice, a personal decision. What is certainly true is that from my youngest childhood years, I was preparing to be a musician.
– Is a career in chamber music or soloist more important for you?
– It is very difficult for me to answer because I am involved in both, and with great regularity. I can't state that the one is more important than the other. When the opportunity presents itself, I seize upon it, sometimes, both at once.
– In the matter of stylistic periods and composers, how much does your solo and chamber music repertoire agree and how much does it differ?
– Naturally they differ. In my chamber music repertoire, that are many contemporary compositions, indeed works that were written for me to premiere. As a soloist however, I rarely play contemporary pieces. The Shostakovich cello concerto, which I am playing here in Hungary, is one of the exceptions.
Above all, I perform classical and particularly the romantic concertos. As a chamber musician, I have given the first performances of many freshly written works by living composers, such as the quartet by the Austrian Haas Bischof. In the future, I will be premiering a work by György Kurtág, concerning which there have been lengthy negotiations with the Salzburg International Mozarteum Foundation. Hopefully, your superb composer will soon complete his string quartet. Then there will be a world premiere so we are eagerly awaiting its completion. As a soloist, amongst other things, I am preparing Christian Huth's cello concerto. On average I perform two world premieres per year.
– That is a fine achievement. Do you regard Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, which you are playing in Budapest, as a modern work, or as typically Russian? Do you sense that typically Russian soul, the Russian anger, in this concerto?
– I am overjoyed to perform the Shostakovich concerto with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. As for your question, we have to assess every work in its own era and its own environment in which it was created, and in which the composer lived. However, this makes itself felt in the composition. Its style and expressive devices point to this. In truth, we can analyze the work in this spirit. Shostakovich's cello concerto conceals his ineffable desire and dreams, everything which in his own era, he could express least of all in words. In this sense, we can justifiably mention the term “soul” in connection with this work.
– Which would you more happily play: classical or contemporary music?
I cannot say, it always depends on quality. From the moment you start working on a given composition, be it classical, romantic or contemporary, you immerse yourself in its world and feel its presence ever closer to you.

Katalin Metz
(Magyar Nemzet, April 6th 2002.)