Celebrated German violinist Christian Tetzlaff drops into the Twin Cities for three distinctly different concerts, in five locations.
You've heard of double-dipping. During the next two weeks,Christian Tetzlaff will triple-dip. Twin Cities audiences have the rare opportunity to hear this brilliant German violinist in three quite different settings.
This weekend, Tetzlaff plays the violin concerto of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski with the Minnesota Orchestra. On Monday, the 19th, Tetzlaff will stand alone at Ted Mann Concert Hall for a solo Schubert Club recital featuring sonatas of Bartok, Bach and Belgian composer Eugène Ysaÿe. Then starting Thursday, Tetzlaff gets a look at the greater metro area while appearing with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in three neighborhood concerts. He'll play two excerpts from Mozart and lead an ensemble in Georges Enescu's Romantic String Octet.
Tetzlaff, 45, is familiar with the Twin Cities, counting six appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra ("I have to say, one of my favorite orchestras in the States"). He has done one date with the SPCO. Tetzlaff spoke with us from his family's home in the German town of Bad Homburg, just outside Frankfurt -- handy for its international airport. He was home after a weekend in China, and was headed back there the day after the interview. His two-week trip to Minnesota is not linked to any other U.S. dates.
Q How did this trip come about to put you in Minnesota for three distinct appearances?
A Good question. I was happy when this idea was born, but I wouldn't exactly know who came up with it. I have played with both orchestras, and the Schubert Club was quite a while in discussion about what I could do. Somehow maybe people know each other and talk to each other.
Q Your concerts here are quite distinct. Do you work yourself into a different psychic space for each?
A Absolutely. My whole job is to be an actor. Not to be Tetzlaff but a very different person in every piece. Sometimes people say it's wonderful, this violinist, I can recognize his sound after a few minutes. I hope nobody can do that with me. I hope when I play the Szymanowski -- which is such a beautiful, erotic and seductive, voluptuous big piece -- I hope I'm a totally different person than the guy who plays the E Major Adagio from the Mozart movement with St. Paul. This is my goal, to give the composer all I have, but in his language.
Q What will you do with your free time in the Twin Cities, sit in your hotel room and practice?
A Yes. I have this solo recital with the Schubert Club, which of course is a totally different thing in preparation. The Bartok is as difficult as three or four violin concerti together. It's one of the most challenging pieces we have. This will keep me busy in a good way.
Q The recital must be such a different experience than performing with an ensemble.
A Being alone is a very beautiful aspect of it. The relationship between me and audience is very intense and there is no interaction for the audience to watch on stage. It's more me talking to a friend, one on one. And the solo pieces are vastly more difficult because you simply have to be two, three, four people at the same time.
Q What makes the Minnesota one of your favorite orchestras?
A The working attitude. It is one of the orchestras that is engaged in a beautiful way. I see some orchestras, it's the stands in the middle where they play with vigor, and then the further out it goes, the more bored people can seem. I have never seen that here. A beautiful attitude in the whole orchestra along with being great players.
Q Everyone always writes about you trading in your Stradivarius for a 21st-century Peter Greiner violin.
A I really don't care who made my fiddle and when it was made. I need a good-sounding instrument. And I think the fiddle by Peter Greiner sounds better than the Stradivarius I played, so there can be no other reason for a player. I have nothing against old fiddles. If someone gives me a Stradivarius that sounds better than mine, I will play it. My only point is that to try to buy a Stradivarius that sounds better than my instrument, I would maybe have to sell my house and make everyone around me unhappy.
Q What is it you like about your Peter Greiner?
A This instrument is darker, stronger, more physical. The Stradivarius was very sublime, maybe thinner and silvery. This fiddle has more carrying power.
Q Your travel schedule is crazy. How do you handle the jet lag?
A I tend to ignore it. I stay up as late as possible in the country I am in and I quickly adjust. With the help of beer and coffee I can balance it.