A key figure in the violin in Belgium, Tatiana Samouil was a finalist for Queen Elisabeth and principal violin of the Orchester Symphonique de La Monnaie. She is now an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician who teaches in Belgium and Spain. While releasing an album with a Gypsy musical soul at Indesens, the musician answers questions from Crescendo-Magazine
Your new album is called “Gipsy Journey”, it explores music from Enescu, Ravel, Weinberg and Bartók. How did you design this program?
I was invited for a recital by the Radio France Festival in Montpellier. The theme given to us by the festival and which had been determined with the Camp de Rivesaltes Memorial was to evoke the memory of the Roma. The first work David Lively and I immediately chose was the Sonata n ° 3 by Enescu who is a composer very dear to my heart. The brilliant George Enescu, who is, in my opinion, one of the most important figures and personalities of the twentieth century, does not occupy the place he deserves and he deserves, including in the repertoire of violinists, let alone his symphonic works or his opera!
My father’s family is from the same region of Romania as that of Enescu. If the legend is to be believed, I am the descendant of several generations of lautar (traditional musicians in Romania and Moldova)! While I was preparing this sonata, my father told me many amazing stories which, in my mind, directly related to the themes that Enescu used in the sonata. The recital went so well that we decided with David to release this “live” on CD. Not a note has been touched up, you are listening to the live concert here!
We know quite well the works of Enescu, Ravel and Bartók, but the Rhapsody on a Moldavian Theme de Weinberg is little known. What can you tell us about it?
My father is Romanian and Moldovan, so everything that comes from Moldova touches me directly and moves me. I discovered this Rhapsody few years ago. This concert was a great opportunity to integrate Weinberg’s music into the recital.
Weinberg’s music seems to be experiencing a fairly lively revival and every month we receive publications dedicated to him. What do you think is at the root of this interest in Weinberg?
First of all, his music is awesome! Judge! This composer with an extraordinary destiny was born in Poland to immigrant parents from Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. He took refuge in the Soviet Union in 1939 when his entire family, who remained in Poland, died in the concentration camps. He was much loved by Shostakovich, he was absolutely integrated into the musical life of Moscow … Without knowing it, my first meeting with Weinberg took place when I was 4 years old, seeing the cartoons for which he had written the music. . He has also written extensively for the cinema, including the soundtrack for the film “When the storks pass”, very well known in Europe and Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1957 (among other distinctions).
Weinberg’s tragic fate is a mirror of 20th century history, especially for Eastern Europe and Russia … My family too had to flee wars or had to leave his country, so my father is born in a concentration camp … but that’s another story.
This is your second album with David Lively on the piano. In these works, the balance between the two instruments is paramount. How did you prepare this album?
In fact, our collaboration began in the 2020-21 season. We recorded all of César Franck’s chamber music. The Malibran quartet is also involved in this project. A very beautiful 4 CD box set, published by Cyprès. Since then, we have played a lot together, discussed, traveled. We are preparing between Paris and Brussels and I hope that it will continue for many years to come!
You are also active with the Malibran Quartet. Why is the activity of a chamber musician in a regular ensemble important to you?
I wouldn’t say the Malibran Quartet is very consistent. To my great regret, my other commitments as a soloist and teaching do not leave me enough time to devote myself to the quartet as much as I would like. Nevertheless we created this quartet to explore the beauty of the formidable repertoire for string quartet … Nothing in my opinion surpasses the masterpieces of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Bartók … I am particularly delighted with the publication next at Cypres of a recording with the quartets of Huybrechts!
In your activities, we raise the Teaching with your class at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. The current pandemic, if it is a test for musicians, it is particularly so for young artists in the making. How do you manage to mobilize your students on their goals when the uncertainties are enormous?
Today I am a professor at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels since September 2021 and at the Center Superior des Arts “Musikene” in San Sebastián. The start of the Covid period was an unprecedented ordeal. We didn’t know how to react and we didn’t have a recipe ready. Finally, it is together that we got out of this situation. For me the possibility of continuing to play, even online, and to see these young people in front of me, all this gave me strength and meaning to my entire musical existence. Indeed, there was enough to fall into depression during all these months without concerts. However, when I knew that my students were behind the screen (in Spain, the strict confinement lasted 58 days without them being able to go out) it gave me the strength to do my scales before class, to smile and to tell them that, in such a situation, the best thing to do is to try to exercise our duty as a musician as best as possible. And if everyone does their job this way, everything will be fine with the world! The bond established during these months with my students is very strong and I am convinced that it will remain for all of us as a unique experience.
Tatiana Samouil’s website: www.tatianasamouil.com
Gipsy Dayney. Works by Bartók / Georges Enescu / Igor Stravinsky / Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Tatiana Samouil, violin: David Lively, piano. 1 CD Indesens.
Photo credits: Rui Moreira
Interview by Pierre-Jean Tribot
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Tatiana Samouil, violinist