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Sol Gabetta: Extraordinary Cellist

4.26.2007 interviewed by Dr. Emer

The usual expectation is that a young, talented and musically-inclined lady would play either the violin or the piano. Not the lovely and brilliant Sol Gabetta. At 26, she is hailed as one of the greatest talents in classical music today as she passionately plays her violoncello all over the world. Her parents are Russian-French, and she was born in Cordoba, Argentina in 1981. She first played the cello when she was four, and has never looked back since.

Among her numerous awards are those given by the Radio Suisse Romande in Geneva, and the Natalia Gutmann Award for best musical interpretation in the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. In 2003, she was awarded a a fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, and in 2004, she won the Credit Suisse Group Young Artist Award, which gave her the right to play in a concert with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Valery Gergiev at the 2004 Lucerne Festival. Last year, she made her debut disc for Sony with the Munich Radio Orchestra, under the baton of Ari Rasilainen of the works of Tchaikovsky and Ginastera.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), a major daily newspaper based in Zürich, Switzerland, and considered one of the oldest newspapers in the world has described Sol's performance as "powerfully intoxicating; with her instrument she seems to be deeply bonded." Today, thanks to Hans K. Rahn, a generous donor, Sol is blessed to play a 1759 cello made by the great Giovambattista Guadagnini, the great cello maker, and to this date, less than a hundred of his cellos survive. In this interview, she reveals how she loves "hugging" her cello.

Sol's schedule is full until the end of the year as she performs in numerous concerts in major cities all over the world. My only wish is that she will come to Manila one day to play. Meanwhile, she was gracious enough to take a break from her busy schedule and engaged me in the following interview:

DR. EMER: When did you realize that music will be your career?

SOL GABETTA: Music, for me, is like breathing! Music was always in my life, in my family...I started to play music when I was 3 years old. I played piano, violin, clarinet, and cello until I was 8. After this, I made a choice and the cello was the winner!

Of all the musical instruments, why did you choose the cello?

The cello is the instrument with the most beautiful "timbre." The cello sound can be compared to the human voice! It is also for me a very easy instrument to play...you take the cello in your arms, in your legs, with the all your body...like when you love someone really so much!!!

Who is your favorite classical artist, and why?

There's a lot of musical personalities who I admire, and it is almost impossible to choose one of them. For me, it is like asking a mother which of her children does she love more? Each of them has something special, something unique, which is true for all the persons in the world.

But I like Yo-Yo Ma very much. Like a cellist, he is open to everyone, everything and all different cultures, that for me, is a wonderful principle.

I also learned a lot from conductors, pianists, and singers in my musical life! But I think a real musician is someone who can express his music in many different ways.

How do you spend your time when you are not playing or performing in a concert?

I have less free time, but I have a house in Switzerland surrounded by pure nature. It is a dream place for me! I love to walk in the mountains, and do some sports.

Not everyone can understand and appreciate classical music. What do you think should a classical artist like you to win more people to listen and love classical music?

I receive a lot of mails from young people who were in my concerts...some of them are pop musicians, some of them are small children, and some of them are just like me --- a normal young person who is 26 years old, who has a chance to communicate this wonderful language to all my friends....the public are all my friends! They are all impressed by the immense power of classical music!

I think we have a wrong idea of classical music. Classical music can be fun if you know how to present the music in a way evryone understands it. Classical music is also made for young people, and that's why I love this music --- this energy, this power, this lyrical force!!

Any pop song favorites? Who are the pop artists you most often listen to?

I don't listen so much pop music, but I like them, too!

How much passion do you give in your concerts?

As much as I have and as I can!

In your experience, what classical musical piece did you find to be the most challenging or the most difficult to play?

In chamber music, one of the more complex pieces that I played until now was maybe Schönberg Kammer Symphonie for piano, cello, flute and clarinet (there are also other versions of this piece) but also another much longer and musical difficult piece is Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps. In the cello repertoire, one of the most technical difficulties is Sergei Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante, or the Symphony-Concerto in E minor.

I have seen your schedule and I know you are busy until the end of the year, and probably in the years to come. Do you think you still have time attending to your personal concerns --- spending time with family, going out with friends, getting married?

Of course! I love my family and my friends. It is always possible to find time for all the people you love! I must learn to organize my schedule just to find time for me too....just to be in the terrace of my wonderful house, and read a book for example, or just look at the birds singing....those experiences all bring me to another world of emotions.

Is there any chance you would have a concert and play in Manila, or nearby southeast Asian cities in the future?

I will love to visit your country. I hope to really come soon! I will have concerts this Summer in Japan, in Tokyo and other cities, from 24 till 30 July 2007. Come to visit my concerts! You are always very welcome!

On the Net: Sol Gabetta's Official Website


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