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Monday, March 19, 2018

Violinist Lukas Hagen: “more and more are born musicians and smaller bands around”

…Lucas Hagen? It is stubborn and at the same time adventurous flavor of the music, the tart taste of Salzburg (birthplace of Mozart), it’s “Hagen Quartet” — the most famous (and family!) chamber ensembles around the world, this brand, tradition, handwriting. And here the head of the ensemble is Lucas, which we find in violin lesson in the Mozarteum, surrounded by Asian students… Soft, but brutal, able to open the casket with centuries-old secrets of music-making (armed with a violin Stradivarius of 1724). His game — not just the quality but the feeling of lightness and taste, where taste is not a rule and dogma, but the inspiration.

Lucas Hagen grew up in an environment of chamber music.

“If the family doesn’t gather together in the evenings, where will the music?”

Once our musicians of the Borodin Quartet have noticed that they don’t care what the audience in the hall — Russian provincial or new York, because its quality is consistently high, the elite. Lucas, to your concerts, too, goes elite? This word grates on the ear…

— I will explain. Chamber music is born from silence. Now listen first to the silence. Tune. And then gently went out the violins… do Not wait for the roar as a huge concert orchestra, for which you can hide. Here you have the discipline of perception. Elite music creates an elite audience, where the elite is synonymous with hills, you are immersed in a very intimate setting. Know how to do it. Know how to strip.

But what is the social face to your audience, who is she?

— Most people who at the time I was studying music. Yes, all the same. Not as professionals, but as a hobby. After the concert, they often come and ask these questions that I sincerely wonder: how do it know? They listened to 15-20 recordings of each piece, compare — in short, with music. And you as a performer don’t irritate it, but on the contrary, supports.

— I myself was a witness when after a concert trying to figure out, what the masters were musicians, in what city they go on… keen interest! But chamber music was born out of salon music-making — now in Austria someone is playing at home?

— When I was a kid, in Salzburg were a lot of families that put on concerts five or six children playing music together. These concerts have enjoyed great success. It was the sound of Salzburg. Sophistication now comes to naught: first, there are so many children in the family; second, if before evening the whole family is sure going together and do something together did (had dinner, read books, played now very fragmented. And this is the wildest: we constantly get distracted by all the nonsense, instead, to gather a great family. Lost some threads…

— And if there is no family…

— …no music, no joy is sharing her perception. The soil out from under his feet.

— Today, all the little people unite.

Well, the world has changed. Walk into any restaurant in Salzburg: the guy with the girl sitting opposite to each other, but each nuzzled your smartphone. They’re not talking, but texting each other messages. It is also very early now leave home and not live with my parents. And if your friend is interested in music, you immediately feel like an outsider. All are very busy with others… So no concerts at his home no longer exists.

— And what in return?

— Thank you that when universities became possible to learn exactly a chamber tradition, which did not exist at all. Here you formerly wanted to master the art of Quartet — in Europe only had a couple of institutions. And now it is taught everywhere.


— Finally understanding what a classy chamber music is universal — he and the orchestra would sit, and soloists will be knocked out if desired. But if you learn just for the soloist, it will be a one-way street. Either succeed or… speaking of saloons: yet there are children’s and youth orchestras that is an Amateur, voluntary. Many doctors, diplomats, who play each other. The desire for music is, but it has ceased to be a mass phenomenon.

Permanent part of the “Hagen Quartet. Photo: press service of the Hagen Quartet.

“After avant-garde sweet to return to the classics”

— Any of our chamber staff will get you a long story about “the traditions” that they pull the story from the creation of the world, etc. “Hagen Quartet” historically someone based? Where are your three pillars?

Well when you studied with such masters as Sandor Vegh (Sandor Vegh, died in 1997), of course, all life is then going to tell everyone. But… I had not studied, although it is clear that Salzburg itself is steeped in many traditions. For us it has become a landmark introduction Arnonkur (recently deceased famous representative of authentic performances). He taught freedom, real penetration in the musical text.

— What is freedom?

And that’s when you’re learning to understand what is meant by the author. Virtuoso is not a game, but first — a masterful understanding. Knowledge gives freedom.

Russian music at least some influence?

Oh… I love Shostakovich’s quartets. In the first place. This is a special emotion. Russian music has such depth and emotion, which we still have to study and learn. It’s not really ours, but want it to take the time…

— What do you mean — not quite yours?

Vienna classics (Schubert, Beethoven, Haydn), of course, also very emotional, but always with the composers there is a certain distance from the listener; with the arrival of the romantics, of course, immersion in the sensual sphere goes deeper than that, but only Russian music offers a truly complete dissolution of the music. And musician, and the viewer require a full commitment.

— Mr. Hagen, how do you feel about the repeated attempts to orchestrate classical chamber music?

— I’ve heard a lot of orchestration — for example, the Grieg Quartet or Quartet Verdi. I recently tried to orchestrate the Quartet Haydn — and, to my surprise, the orchestration works well; the compromise here is not as huge as it seemed. Something is lost in the artwork, but the total charge remains. I would not say that it is necessary to turn to the trend, but it is possible.

Something in Russia, I do not remember family quartets… Hence the question: play with the family? Everyone should be equally talented.

— Here is our Quartet just completely out of domestic music-making. That is, we with Clemens (cello) is originally much more liked to play together than to play solo. So our story is very natural. Why I talked about the importance of family, a certain community within Salzburg. You do not learn intimacy, it comes out of you in a natural manner.

And why wouldn’t you want to make a trio of you, Clemens and Veronika, you have the fourth German violinist Rainer Schmidt?

— Because first children were just four. But the eldest sister Angelika (second violin) in 1989, stopped making music, having chosen another profession. That took Schmidt. Since then, and live. For quite some time, as you can see.

But the Quartet is changing?

In the beginning we had no vacations, no holidays, 24 hours a day. It was important to increase the repertoire. Now we just choose where to go, where not go, where we play and where not to play. For example, less steel to play contemporary music than ever before…

— What is the reason?

— Time is short. To learn a Second Ligeti Quartet takes 3-4 months. Before we went for it, had the time and desire, now this is not possible, but still one premiere a year give. Regularly we face one of the living authors gives a Quartet of Georg Friedrich Haas, for example…

— How do it is important to bear avant-garde music to people?

— Muzykantsky this is very important: we cannot remain in the bosom of the classical tradition, not coming to the others — sound, rhythmic. But the main secret: after the avant-garde is so sweet to go back to the classics!

— Begin to understand its true value?

— Not that… Just when you eat the same thing becomes boring. And trying something completely different, you with a great responsibility to recognize the true values. . Well, of course, learn new performance techniques than modern music and beautiful. Pushing the horizons. More will say modern music has the right to have it performed. Because she was a newborn, still warm, newborn… isn’t That the story?

photo: Yan Smirnitsky
One of the great capitals of European music.

“Don’t tread on weaknesses”

— And how in General it is important that the soloist had seen of the composer? As Richter saw Prokofiev and so on…

— Of course, it would be cool to hang out with Schubert or Mozart. But we have the choice only of the living, and among them very different people. There are composers that their music never know.

— How so?

— And that’s it. Do not write from the heart, theoretically. There was a case when we did not have enough quite time to learn, and we were playing something “next to the notes.” Made by the author so happy, I don’t even understand… on the other hand, Ligeti, he heard one accord, exclaimed: “Oh, No, here something not that!” It turned out that the harmonics for the cello one octave lower is played. And when the composer is hearing there is an incentive to teach.

photo: Yan Smirnitsky
Mozart in Salzburg looks from all surfaces.

— What does “Hagen Quartet” fresh energy? In other quartets, the soloists go, come, comes new blood… you have the same composition stable.

— The most important thing inside a mutual respect. Of course, we all know the weaknesses of each. But if all the time to push these weaknesses, things quickly come into disrepair. And people go, can not exist together. It is important not to dwell on mistakes…

— Lucas, here you are a Professor at the famous Mozarteum (where we are actually sitting). So, with the music staff in General, everything is fine?

— Okay-that is fine, but it became very difficult to find a job. I do a lot of good musicians, but because you need to pull the winning ticket in order to get a decent place. This is one reason why people turn to teaching — it provides additional opportunities and a sense of stability. You can see what is happening — more and more are born musicians and smaller bands around: they just go bankrupt, no one gives money.

“But develops a wave or is it irreparable?

— No, it’s not no wave. This is a trend, unfortunately. Ever curve of musical life might go up, but so far hopes for optimism are few. We even the bottom is still not reached. But I was engaged from the birth of chamber music, so it do, I was lucky. My way — the way of the Salzburg musician.

PS Thank for the help in translation from German of a remarkable pianist, a founder of the Trio. Rachmaninoff Victor Yampolsky.


Lukas Hagen is a famous Austrian violinist, one of the founders (along with his brother Clemens, and sister Veronica) branded “Hagen Quartet” (1981); “Hagen-Quartett specialists positioned among the best chamber groups in Europe, paying tribute to “dolgorovski” of the team, its unique chemistry and high taste level. The Quartet regularly participates in various festivals, having over 35 years of existence, a record number of prizes. Himself and Lucas out of the Quartet is the authoritative ideologist of music, one of the symbols of the modern cultural life of Salzburg, Professor at the Mozarteum.


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