Chamber music, alongside orchestral playing, has always been one of my favourite forms of making music. As a young student in Sydney, my quartet would rehearse nearly every morning, and we regularly organised sight-reading party evenings, where about 20 friends would take turns reading through great works by great composers and eating cheese, drinking wine and listening. Through chamber music, you explore your personal interpretations in detail, in a way that is not always available in the larger group experience of playing in orchestra; and for me it is always a way to charge myself back up to my best technical playing form.

This season, I returned to my position as a full-time member of the 2nd violin group of RSB after taking a year of maternity leave. I was so happy to return to my profession, to my wonderful group, and to devote time to playing the violin again. I was doubly excited to know that I would also be fulfilling a wish of many years, to have the chance to play Ravel’s Duo for Violin and Cello in this year’s Chamber Music series.

After 10 months of time away from the violin (my longest ever break), I spent the remaining 2 months of my leave slowly pulling my technique back together, long open strings and Schradiek finger-strengthening exercises. I was quite nervous before my first orchestra concert, with Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra on the program, but it was thrilling to be back on stage, with the fiddle under my chin– it felt like I’d never left.

Much more daunting for me however, was the prospect of preparing the Ravel Duo. Such a fascinating work, almost refractory in nature, yet so rewarding once understood. The violin part holds technical challenges that I hadn’t ever attempted to master, such as left-hand pizzicato passages, and intonation between two players with recurring fourths and fifths, which must ring uncompromisingly true. Rehearsals with Andreas Kipp have been incredibly satisfying, our work to pull the piece apart and analyse from the inside out, and then piece it all back together has been more successful than I hoped. Passages which we thought we might never be able to play in Ravel’s tempo, we now flow through, barely needing to glance at each other.

It almost seems a shame that after months of preparation and already at least 6 rehearsal sessions with Andi, the Duo will be over in a mere 22 minutes! But I plan to enjoy every second, and I hope the audience will too.

Ein Beitrag von Neela Hetzel de Fonseka

Foto: Igor Cortadellas, Molina Visuals