Exclusive interview with Sandrine Piau
Ahead of our first collaboration with the acclaimed Sandrine Piau, we spoke to her about her love of Mozart and approach to concert performance:
Is Mozart a special composer for you? What is unique about his writing for the voice?
Mozart’s music is a sort of a backbone – I always come back to it, never straying very far! His work is a miraculous combination of vocalisation and music, with no compromise on either part.
Do you approach the performance of Mozart, and in particular early Mozart, in a different way from the Baroque repertoire? In Mozart’s earlier works, do you hear a glimpse of what is to come in the later Da Ponte operas?
Mozart’s early music was written in a much more instrumental way for the voice, and with a virtuosity that is indeed reminiscent of Baroque music. I see this period of Mozart’s music as a bridge between the Baroque and Classical eras. I try and bring out the ‘hybrid’ characteristics. I myself find the evolution in Mozart’s work so huge throughout his short life that I find it hard to believe that Aspasia is the ‘grandmother’ of Susanna, Pamina or the Countess! Having said this, Zaide does foreshadow Konstanze…
Do you enjoy concert work? Does your approach to the delivery of the text change without the added complexity of a staging and direction?
Naturally the stage brings a third dimension to the roles that you take on – you have to be actor, conductor and stage director in one go. The time you spend on the role (often during a whole month of rehearsals) also allows you day by day to go deeper into the character.
However, concerts give you the opportunity to read the music in a more personal and spontaneous way. Music then takes precedence over the theatricality, giving the listener the freedom to imagine the rest. It’s a different sort of work, which I like just as much.
Hear Sandrine Piau on Radio 3’s In Tune on Thursday 11 October, 16:30.