Adriano in his 1987 Bratislava conducting debut (Photo by G.A.)
As a conductor are you associated with a particular
I am very happy to be able to work with the Moscow
and the Radio Bratislava Symphony: its fulfils me totally with joy and
it is a wonder I could do this for over 12 years now. They know me very
well, they love me and we have a wonderful collaboration together.
Why are so many recordings of obscure repertoire
being recorded in Russia - is this purely a commercial issue or are
there other reasons?
Orchestras from East European countries are certainly
less expensive and surely more friendly than most orchestras over here,
and this is not only as far as obscure repertoire is concerned. With
the two ensembles I was allowed to work thanks to Marco Polo/Naxos,
the Radio Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and the Moscow Symphony, many
recordings of current repertoire have been done as well, of course with
other conductors. Such "low budget" orchestras have other advantages:
they are more open towards unusual repertoire, they are more flexible
regarding schedules and not under total spell and control of a famous
chief conductor who fears that different guests may have an influence
which may ruin his own. Frankly, most star orchestras of today sound
to me rather impersonal and boring: they have played their repertoire
so many times under so many different great conductors that one feels
that they are unable to totally forget what was done before and bring
out something which may be "new" but not totally new except in a very
few cases which will make history. It takes a new chief to totally renew
his players and only then would he eventually reach his dreams … if
he has any. Nicolaus Harnoncourt has told me that the Berlin Philharmonic
had first turned its nose up before finally agreeing to approach a radical
interpretation of Brahms' Symphonies, meaning hard, and perhaps extra
With the Moscow and Radio Bratislava Symphony I can
work feeling as if they are totally fresh. They play exactly what I
want without fuss and without that terrible burden of past tradition
and memories of past stars. Famous orchestras may be technically perfect,
but this does not impress me; there is often almost no soul behind,
the inner world of the composer cannot be found, and therefore not be
sung out with all the passion such a noble and magnificent enterprise
deserves! Great conductors of today like Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado
have become so dull and so commercial that I am desperately looking
for something else than just a fabulous routine interpretation, or sometimes
even a surprisingly bad rendering.
Listen to old recordings of the Orchestra della Scala,
so rich in atmosphere and freshness and compare them to many of today's
CDs, it's simply sobering! But this comes mainly from the fact that
these orchestras play repertoire too frequently and unusual pieces are
belong to just an alibi domain. The forgotten Romantic repertoire or
the one of the turn of the Century has so many treasures to discover
and to make part of a more frequent scheduling that audience would start
to like, if they are properly educated and prepared. But star conductors
and soloists are rather lazy, or too busy and prefer playing and recording
their limited list of works over and over and everywhere again, fabricating
the legend that it is their audience who wants this, which I don't believe.
I know many people who are sick and tired of always hearing the same
Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven performed in a more of less similar way
by those I call the dictators of classical music. This phenomenon, which
is of course an invention not only of the stars but also of their agents,
causes a perversion of the music itself, since the listener seldom enjoys
the music for itself. He automatically starts comparing the present
interpretation with that he heard not long ago or 20 years ago or in
a recording in his collection. Music becomes secondary, the listener
becomes a critic and the work itself does not reach its goals, which
are its approach to the heart and the soul. Of course, the times of
great conductors of the Furtwängler, Toscanini and Karajan generation
have gone, but they were able to create musical performances where the
musical work was profoundly approached and respected. A concert with
such people was not just a celebrity show - a "must" at any price -
but became an event, a celebration every time.
Given a free hand which ten works .. previously
unrecorded would you want to record. and why in each case?
Such a list I will never reveal, because I still hope
to be able to realise it before someone else gets the same idea by accident
or by gossip. But I can tell you what I would like to record myself
which has already been done by others: Bernard Herrmann's Opera "Wuthering
Heights", Franz Schreker's complete orchestral works and some works
by Respighi like his Sinfonia Drammatica, Belkis and Ballata delle gnomidi.
Do tell me more about your interest in Wuthering
Heights - that Hermann opera was recorded by the composer himself c1966
- I like the work though I think it is rather static - rather like a
"Wuthering Heights" is an incredibly beautiful opera
which, in my opinion, belongs to the group of best operas of the twentieth
century. That it is rather static does not bother me at all, "Tristan
und Isolde" is even more static and even less theatrical! A good and
sensitive stage director could create a magnificent production. When
I first listened to the recording, made by the composer in 1967, I could
not believe my ears and felt afterwards totally disturbed for a long
time. That such beautiful any lyrical and dramatic music could be written
today is the best proof that such kind of music will survive for ever.
Another similar shock was caused by discovering Schreker's opera "Der
Ferne Klang"... Herrmann uses the ideal, most approachable way to express
a drama of human feelings with music today: its music coming out of
the heart of a highly sensitive genius. Such a style could appeal to
greater audiences and I cannot understand why Opera House Managers never
produce it. I would love to rerecord this piece myself with Thomas Hampson
in the role of Heathcliff, but this will be one of the many dreams of
my life which remain unfulfilled. I still can't believe that I have
at least been allowed to do a recording of Herrmann's magnificent film
score "Jane Eyre" which is also based on a Bronte piece. I feel very
much at home with Bernard Herrmann's music, also as far as his remaining
concert works are concerned and, of course, all of his splendid film
and radio scores.
What would be your advice to a person considering
conducting as a career?
Since my conducting activities are far from being regular
or frequent and since I don't get any chance of giving public concerts,
I don't feel I should be giving advice to anybody. I still have to learn
and to perfect myself! Perhaps I am not wanted on the podium anyway
... I have the possibility in one or two years of giving some concerts
with the Moscow Symphony and the Radio Bratislava Orchestra, but at
this stage I spend more time in dealing with sponsors and agents than
studying the scores I want to perform.
You have touched on this a little already but what
qualities are necessary in a great conductor?
This I can certainly answer: a conductor must have
an enormous overall culture, he must love and respect music more than
he loves and respects himself, he should make music alive with passion
and tension in order that it reaches the whole body of his audience.
After an exciting concert, each listener should leave the hall as shattered
and exhausted as the orchestra and the conductor themselves!
As already mentioned, I am a fan of the generation
of great past conductors like Furtwängler, Toscanini, Karajan,
Ansermet, Keilberth, Van Beinum, Beecham, Rosbaud, Golovanov (which
I consider one of my absolute favourites), Solti, Cluytens, Fournet
and Ingelbrecht. They were all masters in creating incredible performances
and could tighten a bow over a whole piece, making a composer's work
alive through their great respect, their own strong personalities, culture
As far as today's conducting generation is concerned,
I am very fond of personalities like Edo de Waart, Leif Segerstam, Nicolaus
Harnoncourt, Franz Welser-Möst and Carlos Kleiber, they belong
to that group able to make of a concert much more than just a social
event or a nice performance, they bring great commitment, even fanaticism
into a domain which has become today more a business than it was before.
I am glad you mentioned Golovanov - he is one of
my favourites - have you heard his Rachmaninov second symphony - as
someone brought up on the syrupy somnolence of the Previn (which people
criticise at their peril!) I loved Golovanov's sheer virile energy -
similarly in the viscerally exciting Francesca. Do you know these works?
What is it about Golovanov?
Golovanov is one of the most crazy and daring conductors
ever and, frankly, some of his interpretations are quite over the top,
but still remain congenial. Every time I am in Moscow and walk from
the Composer's House to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory or to the Gnessin
Music Academy (where I occasionally give singing stylistic master-classes),
I pass by Golovanov's house on which front a commemorative sculpture
has been placed. I remain there for a few minutes, standing and thinking
of the incredible musical personality Golovanov has been and what would
have been of some other conductors would have dared to go so far, or
would they have at least taken their time to listen to some of his recordings
before doing their own dull ones! Listen to Golovanov's recordings of
Liszt's Symphonic poems, or to some of his Bolshoi operas, afterwards
you want to throw away what has been done by others or you feel as having
had a musical revelation. Rachmaninov Second under Golovanov's baton
is so exciting that it takes your pants off or gives you a heart problem.
Contrarily to this, Rachmaninov's Third is more moderate, perhaps he
did appreciate this work less. But as far as his Scriabin renderings
are concerned, this will never be alike! Lately I have found a recording
of Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique", which goes so far that I think
Tchaikovsky would have committed suicide earlier by hearing it. But
what is more important, is that Golovanov, by being so highly personal
and original, or even really crazy in his tempi, he still respects the
composer or discovers in it new aspects. I love his rubato technique
and I must say that it is from his that I have learnt a lot, even without
having ever seen him at work. No conductor's master-class can be compared
to a serious and analytical listening to Golovanov's recordings. As
far as André Previn's Rachmaninov is concerned (which I have
in my collection) I like them very much, he is one of those highly sensitive
conductors who can reach great impact and expression by even using slow
tempi and great espressivo. He understood Rachmaninov's soul, not, for
example, as did Lorin Maazel in his recordings. Previn's recent recording
of Korngold's Symphony is terribly slow but so compact and so lyrical!
This is often very difficult to obtain with an impatient orchestra.
Previn is great and I love him also as a composer!
What is your attitude to the recording studio?
I love working in the recording studio. But I am not
one of those conductors who repeat over and over again a few bars until
they are perfect or the piece has to be edited together ad absurdam.
I do what orchestra players dreams of, I let them play through whole
movements. I want that a bow is being tightened over a whole piece,
this is the main rule of making it organic. Details can be corrected
later, but there are so many unimportant details so many conductors
lose their time making the players impatient and nervous, thus deteriorating
the quality of each following take. In other words I am not masturbating
over my orchestras but making love with them.
How did you become involved with Naxos/Marco Polo
I became involved with this company in 1987 when I
was asked if I could record some film scores by Arthur Honegger I had
rediscovered at that time. It was actually Klaus Heymann to whom I owe
having been allowed to mount the podium and in all these years I have
realised 29 CDs for him, all featuring unknown repertoire. The Marco
Polo Film Music series is actually an idea of mine. I also suggested
they start making classical music videos. The very first series of them
(they are being reissued on DVD today) were written and directed by
myself. Having received good reviews and my further projects having
found Mr. Heymann's interest, I was able to continue and since I had
the reputation of being a Respighi expert, he allowed me to conduct
6 CDs of unknown pieces by this composer.
What are your recording plans?
At present, all my recording plans with Marco Polo
Naxos, even those which had already been approved, have been cancelled
with the reason that my obscure repertoire does not sell well enough
any more. Now I am preparing 4 recordings of symphonic music for another
company who still believe in me and who had been trying for years to
give me some work which my Marco Polo/Naxos connection had prevented.
Earlier on you mentioned various Respighi works
you would like to record. So far as the Drammatica is concerned there
are recordings by Downes (Chandos) and Nazareth (Naxos) - what special
insights do you feel you can bring to this work?
I cannot tell this right away since I should go over
the score once more and restudy it. I might even find another approach
now, than the one I remember having had earlier. I do not want to compare
myself to Downes and to Nazareth, who both have done splendid readings
of this rather difficult piece, but I can imagine myself doing even
a more passionate and dramatic version, giving the listener an idea
how Respighi must have felt when he wrote this Symphony, just at the
time of the outbreak of World War I. Incidentally, there is another
Symphony of the same title I would love to perform or to record one
day, written by an obscure composer called Antoine Dewanger, but nobody
was interested in this project since the orchestra requires an extra
ensemble of nine saxophones!
How would you rate and recommend your 6 CDs of
Respighi. For someone who knows the Roman Trilogy which of your discs
should they purchase first?
Frankly, I rate my own Respighi CDs as rather OK, seeing
the very little time I was given to rehearse and record them, but of
course, many things could be improved. I think "La Primavera", a very
difficult work for the players, singers and conductor, has come out
very well and one feels everybody's passionate involvement with this
great, ecstatic work. Since I have done recordings of works by Respighi
which were practically all world premières of his less-known
repertoire, it is difficult to recommend any of them to a music-lover
who just knows the Roman Trilogy: he should rather continue discovering
more famous works by Respighi first, and there are a lot of them!
My favourite Respighi is Church Windows (Vetrate
di Chiesa). I recall hearing the piece in a BBC Radio 3 broadcast one
early morning circa 1973 and was completely caught up in this rich and
generously spirited epic - the final window is glorious - are there
comparable works in the Respighi catalogue.
Church Windows is an orchestration of his "Three Preludes
in the Gregorian Mode" for Piano, with the addition of a new piece.
Whilst being very impressive and colourful, I think this suite is rather
superficial and the musical impact holds together in a better way in
the original piano version. It's a good showpiece for orchestra, not
giving a conductor a great and deeply challenging work.
Oddly enough with the exception of Pines of Rome
I am not specially drawn to the Roman Trilogy. How do you rate these
I prefer "Fountains" above all, it's like Wagner's
"Rheingold" compared to the rest of the Tetralogy. Spontaneous, transparent,
chamber-like music coming out from a purely romantic soul. At that time,
Respighi had not discovered the Gregorian modes, which does not mean
they had afterwards made the Trilogy less good, but it was just the
end of Respighi's youthful and exuberant period and he too used to say
that 1916 was the year during which he started to feel himself a mature
composer. "Pines of Rome" and "Roman Festivals" are, certainly, very
exciting but belong to the same category of orchestral showpieces as
"Church Windows", in which further dimensions cannot be found other
than an excellent and showcase-like display by the orchestra.
Do you know the composer Joseph Marx - his superb
'Castelli Romana' for piano and orchestra really deserves a proper commercial
recording as do his songs with orchestra and the 'Herbstsymphonie'.
Have you heard any Marx?
In earlier times I used to sing Joseph Marx's songs,
especially his "Tuscany Spring". This composer is, similarly to Respighi,
highly eclectic and would deserve an imminent rediscovery. Incidentally,
this composer has written an obituary of Respighi, a recollection of
his two meetings with the composer in Rome and essays on a couple of
his works. As far as Marx's orchestral works are concerned I am not
daring to propose them to anybody in these difficult times for the classical
recording industry, especially now I have lost my commitment with Marco
Polo/Naxos! But this composer figured on my proposal list 10 years ago
You mentioned your work on reanimating ancient
recordings. What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the
current state of the art?
This is a question which would need a book to answer,
or a serious symposium talk. What can be said, as far as musical interpretation
is concerned, is that everything was done more seriously and with more
commitment in earlier times, since the commercial pressure and all the
exaggeration of artists jetting around the world was not there. The
music business was not yet a commercial business, it was a serious artistic
enterprise. Those stars were not under such pressure! This can be heard
by listening to the few first minutes of a historical studio or live
recording! The performer's personality comes through immediately, not
only in a stronger way, but in a more honest one. Of course, today we
also have honest and serious musicians ... The other disadvantage today
is that music is being performed mostly with a preoccupation with technical
perfection, almost sound engineering. This is not only at the occasion
of a recording, but at concerts. There are conductors who only listen
to the sound effects or to the balance of their ensemble, not realising
that this is also a subjective thing and different not only in a listener's
ear, but also because he is listening from another position. A good
conductor should be able to obtain from his orchestra the very balance
the composer had in his mind. Hearing some Debussy on CD today is like
watching a Walt Disney documentary. On the other hand we have conductors
who try to recreate historical orchestras with historical instruments
and historical temperament, but they ignore that fact that our 'ears'
have also developed in the meantime and we now want those imperfect
instrument which were playing quite wrong at that time to sound perfect
Which historical recordings still await deserving
reissue on CD and do all historical recordings merit this.
Where there is merit it is not only because of the
musical works, some of which have been forgotten, but also for the splendid
artists performing them. It's only the past from which we can learn
and even my knowledge of singing stylistics would be too limited if
I had not studied old singer's recordings over and over again. That's
why I love immensely to work with singers: most of them have not the
slightest idea who those old singers were and had never listened to
their recordings and don't know about tradition and stylistics!
During one of my latest Moscow singers' workshops at
the Gnessin Academy, I had a Chinese baritone interpreting "Pagliacci's"
Prologue. I said to him that I liked it very much, that he must have
listened to Tito Gobbi's recording, after which he felt totally frustrated
because it was true. I encouraged him saying to the remaining pupils
that on the contrary, this was the way of studying.
Are there any historical recordings already issued
that you consider have been done a disservice because of the restoration
decisions and why?
Already before the coming of the CD, some companies
reprocessed historical recordings with so-called electronic stereo,
which is dreadful. I am glad that EMI has gone back to Callas's original
masters for their CD reissues! Some other mono-reprocessings have been
filtered in a way that the music sounds as if it were being performed
under water: neither the sky nor the waves are there anymore...
Have you been steered away from some composers by
Of course I have, since most big companies think in
a purely commercial way and are run by managers who don't really like
or know music from an artist's point of view, but artists have always
been in need of depending of uncultivated or greedy patrons, since money
itself is the greatest antagonist of culture. Those patrons, actually,
make their own reputation through a thing which does not belong to them
since they don't understand it and become very powerful and rule the
world of arts. As far as recording companies are concerned, there are,
fortunately, some exceptions, especially through the work of some idealistic
managers of smaller labels.
....Or to some composers by record companies
Well, the recording companies are a kind of mafia and
how they treat artists has nothing to do with music either. If one is
a star, he will be promoted no matter what rubbish he performs or how
routine-ridden or even bad he has become, he even dictates what he wants
to perform from his limited repertoire. As the mafia does, they would
like to kill or to possess their competitors and under these politics
artist have also to suffer. I was very lucky to be successfully able
to propose my obscure repertoire to Marco Polo, but that was at the
time classical rarities were selling well. Still, I see with satisfaction
that labels like Hyperion and Chandos carry on with this repertoire
riding on an exuberant courage. I don't understand Marco Polo for cutting
down so drastically: I am not their only victim! Hyperion and Chandos
may have terrific sponsors. I was able to find sponsors for five of
my own Marco Polo and Naxos CDs. That was a hard work, but the funds
I still could receive seem not to be enough future any recordings more.
What would be your ten desert island CDs and why?
I would be in need to know if the desert island has
electricity. But one mainly comes to a desert island by accident and
not by own will, so he has not the time to put together his favourite
Are there plans to reissue the Adriano LPs onto
No, there is no money around any more for that. The
money invested in making those LPs was not covered by sales. The whole
enterprise was done on an idealistic basis anyway.
Do you think that too much obscure music is being
This may be true, but on the other hand, compared to
literature, there is still a huge amount of unperformed music lying
around in archives and collections which should be investigated.
Do you relish or aspire to a position of chief conductor
of an orchestra somewhere?
Apart from the fact that this would be absolutely impertinent,
seeing the lack of repertoire experience and orthodoxy formation I have,
I do not want to conduct repertoire and be under pressure to direct
concerts every week here and there or to go on tour with programs fixed
years in advance, or being imposed by agents to flatter stars and audiences.
What I would like, is to give a few concerts per year, whose programs
should challenge audiences and musicians. It would be a horror for me
to conduct Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart etc. and before mounting the
podium already thinking that my audience will compare me with other
conductors while listening to those great composers and forget the real
message of the music. On the other hand I am in a dilemma since I feel
the need of performing some particular repertoire pieces like Tchaikovsky's
Symphonies or some Mahler, or even some Brahms (the composer for whom
I have the greatest respect), because I have the impression of being
able to give some very personal (but still respectful) renderings...
I would in any case love to become a more frequent guest of the two
orchestras I have worked with for all these years, but they cannot pay
me. Forthcoming concerts with them are already planned as "no fee" jobs
and I even have to find sponsors financing rental costs of the orchestral
material, or paying my travel expenses. If I was rich, there would be
no problem and I could realise the concerts I would like to do. Those
eastern orchestras are quite poor financially speaking, as everybody
Have you conducted at all in the UK or USA?
Of course not, I still have to struggle for conducting
jobs in Eastern countries after even over here in Europe I seem not
to be wanted.
Do you think that your decision to base yourself
in Switzerland has hindered your progress as a conductor?
I think so, but I am almost sure that also elsewhere
I would have encountered difficulties with my orthodox or insufficient
musical formation. Unless I would have encountered another discoverer
à la Klaus Heymann. My first intention in younger years had been
to emigrate to the USA, but I never really had the courage and the means
of taking such a step. I would have gone to the USA to make money as
a photographic model (I had some contacts already) since in those years
I was quite successful in this field too. I feel not totally happy under
Switzerland's narrow spiritual horizons and its provincial attitude
towards creative arts.
Going back to Respighi … I was fascinated by the
flood of Respighi opera recordings from Hungary - why Hungary? Do you
know anything of the background to those Hungaroton recordings?
Maestro Gardelli, who did those recordings, was then
a regular conductor in Budapest and I guess that no Italian opera ensemble
would have agreed or been able to do these recordings anyway. The Italians
were never really fond of Respighi. Already in his youthful years, after
he had left his native Bologna, the Bolognese never forgave him for
leaving Rome and in Rome he was more successful as a teacher than a
composer. Respighi's renown was established abroad, when he toured Europe
and the USA. The Hungaroton label had always been a first-class label
promoting less-known repertoire, already during its LP era and I really
appreciate this wonderful enterprise, although Gardelli's tempi are
generally a bit too sleepy.
Not so long ago there was a flurry of correspondence
regarding allegations of Respighi's fascist allegiances. I know that
you refuted these allegations and did so with considerable style and
evidence. That episode set me wondering about why composers we love
we also have to see in the best possible light as personalities. It
is as if a composer's music or our love for it is somehow so fragile
that it would be damaged if we discovered something about the composer's
life, politics, crimes or allegiances that we deplore. Aren't these
things two quite separate issues?
What's simply human behind an artist's production which
is delivered to the world, can turn out to be often quite disappointing,
mainly because the aura or the pedestal we consumers and promoters have
placed them on for a long period has become too high. Earlier composer's
biographies were written without the communication and information possibilities
of today and are often nearer to literature than to objective studies.
The most famous case is that of Mozart. I remember very well the shocking
reactions at the time first more objective and private Mozart biographies
were published. Before that, Mozart was considered an ethereal being,
almost a saint. His music was played in function to this and I am very
grateful to Nicolaus Harnoncourt for having had the courage to make
tabula rasa of all those clichés, by interpreting Mozart's music
in a radical way, exempt of all the silly burden of past legends. But
there are many composers, whose lives are totally uninteresting from
a biographical view: they did not murder, they weren't homosexual, they
had no extramarital affairs, they did not become blind or cripples,
they had no freaky mortal accidents and we still love their music. Art
can certainly survive without necessary knowledge of its creator's personality,
but there are some cases like Gustav Mahler (of whose music I am also
a great lover), whose biography should be investigated by conductors
in any case! He belongs to those composers I call "autobiographical
composers", who wrote musical diaries. The way their music has to be
played can only be found out by reading their life, letters and contemporary
testimonials. Of course, I always feel a bitter taste on my tongue when
I listen to Wagner's music, but his antiracist ideology is a political
matter, involving more than just literary or biographical dimensions,
this involves human rights. To conclude this theme, there are also some
biographers who are concerned about their own reputation above the one
of the composer they are writing on, and the case of Fascism towards
Respighi could be seen from that point. This case looks like an amateurish
and totally undocumented gossip which is being exhumed again and which
was circulating in Italy since 1949 among some of Respighi's envious
fellow-composers. I have been able to find a sufficiently minimum of
negative proofs to defend this case. The fact that a composer subscribed
to the Fascist Party did not prove that he was convinced of this ideology
anyway. It was merely a matter belonging to a syndicate able to get
a job to survive, it was not even opportunism, it was just necessary
to get the appropriate working permit as a teacher or musician. From
this point of view we can call all of Respighi's fellow composers Fascists
as well, with the spicy little difference that most of them had in fact
dedicated compositions to the Duce and Respighi not even a single note!
You mentioned Schreker's "Der Ferne Klang" - that
almost Delian pilgrimage after a sound - just like pursuit of the grail
- a lovely work - do you see any parallels between Zemlinsky and Schreker
and are there other Germans who merit attention - what about Thuille,
Bungert and Hessenburg?
Schreker and Zemlinsky were Austrian and not German.
Schreker's "Der Ferne Klang" is not just "lovely"! It is a world in
itself containing different styles and conceptions of music, wild, passionate
and at the same time esoteric, one of the greatest masterpiece of the
20th century. Between Schreker and Zemlinsky I see only period parallels.
Zemlinsky's music is not as abysmal and crazy as Schreker's, but great
and so lyrical! Schreker cannot be clearly defined or packed into traditional
definitions. It's one of those works which proves that the history of
music as it has been written till today is absolutely incorrect and
narrow-minded. Zemlinsky had once commissioned Schreker to write him
a libretto, based on the theme of the tragedy of an outcast ugly man
and Schreker had produced "Die Gezeichneten", but he suddenly so fell
in love with the subject that he used the libretto for himself. Zemlinsky
therefore arranged that Oscar Wilde's "Birthday of the Infanta" was
transformed into a libretto - a subject, incidentally, which had already
inspired Schreker to a youthful ballet-pantomime 14 years before. In
the musical past of both countries more discoveries could be made, especially
from the time of the turn of the century, a period I like very much.
As far as Germany is concerned, among the dozens of projects I once
had proposed to Marco Polo, symphonic works by Waldemar von Baussnern
and Jean Louis Nicodé were figuring.
Can you explain why it is that the age of the CD
- since 1983 - has seen such a broadening of the recorded repertoire?
I think it has nothing to do with the medium, but with
the fact that it was the time in which the saturation of current repertoire
was already felt. I am sure many producing companies were receiving
letters with suggestion from music lovers to discover this and that.
Of course, already during the LP era, there were some pioneering labels,
like Vox/Turnabout, Urania, Westminster, NKF, Opera Rara and others
who produced great things, and, what is even more important, there were
many pirate or private labels immortalising broadcasts of live performances
of important, rare or obscure works. Without those labels, my musical
culture would be less wide for sure!
There has been talk for a few years now of the film
industry using increasingly sophisticated software to create virtual
actors. Do you think that a parallel development may be seen in classical
music especially at the leading exploratory edge or in revival of neglected
works. Will synthesiser software and sampling replace the orchestra
and conductor with lifelike sound and interpretative inspiration administered
by people at keyboards rather than in front of orchestras.
I hope it will not - this would be the death of music.
If there comes a day when there is no money around any more for large
orchestral music or opera, let's rediscover chamber music! Modern means
and computers can be very helpful in creating music in the sense of
writing it down and editing it. For more than ten years I have worked
with music software and have not even written one note by hand since
then - or to facilitate its diffusion. Music is a human activity and
a human experience which cannot be replaced by machines. I have nothing
against electronic instruments or electronic music in general, as long
as the pieces, written exclusively for this medium, are interesting.
However traditional music should not be replayed or re-arranged with
Which music do you listen to for relaxation and
Music is to me such a strong experience that I cannot
play it for relaxation, I always feel it running through my whole body,
as if I was studying, or performing it myself, or trying do find a better
way if the performance is unsatisfactory. I hate music being played
in the background since it always keeps my attention, I want to listen
to it but cannot because of the foreground noises. I do not listen to
music in the car since I don't drive and if ever I did, this would be
dangerous since I could concentrate too much on the music! Listening
in a car as a passenger is not exciting either. The driver mostly does
not listen to it anyway and talks ...
Do you think that rare music is now too easily available
- if that is not a contradiction in terms?
Rare music should be even more easily available than
well-known music, but commercial rules makes this situation so grotesque
and we are constantly terrorised by musical hits.
Could you tell us more about your composing activities. When did you
In 1964 I rented a piano, to use it more as a vehicle
to study music theory than to learn playing. However, with the help
of a piano-playing friend, I was introduced to the main rules of playing
and started exercising alone, not by doing the usual finger-exercises,
but by deciphering easy pieces. At the Conservatory's admission examination
I played two pieces from Kabalevsky's Children Album and within a short
time I had written a dozen piano pieces myself, and this by pure intuition,
since I had no notion of harmony yet. Some of these early miniatures
are in the style of Erik Satie, since I had also begun to learn to play
his "Gymnopédies". My future piano teacher really hated those
pieces. In the Seventies I decided to destroy most of these 40-50 rather
funny products, by keeping only 6, and that became, in a way, my Opus
1. In 1969 I offered myself to write a musical play for an improvised
theatrical group for a Swiss open-air Festival. I was invited to join
as a theatrical director and when I asked what they would like to play,
they said they did know yet, and that was just a week beforehand! I
started composing a musical play on texts by Sigmund Freud and in this
short time I delivered one of my craziest and daring works. It was called
"Did you eventually see something naked?" The libretto was based on
Freud's reports on his early psychoanalytical sessions "Studies in Hysteria".
The musical numbers were songs, dances and interludes. They were written
for piano or electronic organ.
I orchestrated some of the pieces during the play's
rehearsals, since at that festival concerts were being given and players
were hanging around asking for music. The most exciting thing was that
I had started writing for strings and brass without having any notion
at all and, with the help of the players, it worked! The performance
of the play was a success and we had to repeat it immediately afterwards,
in-between running around to transport the complete set to a tent since
a terrible thunderstorm had broken out. A few years later I arranged
four of these musical numbers into a little Suite for 5 winds and Vibraphone
(this instrument was also used at the première of the play) and
all remaining pieces were destroyed, but I still keep an absolutely
exhilarating and nostalgic memory of this first theatrical attempt,
getting such a success. Of course I also conducted the music and played
the part of Dr. Freud myself. Some numbers were also conceived for a
rhythmically speaking girls' chorus, who I had convinced to perform
wearing only their bras. A separate little piece for bassoon and double-basson
(or tuba) entitled "Verfängliches" (which means "Something compromising")
comes out from the same bulk of music. I had also started writing songs
with piano and pieces for violin solo, since another friend of mine
gave me the chance of writing some stage music for other theatrical
events. In other words, without any complications and without even asking
myself what I was really doing, I had become a composer! I had music
within myself which I could hear and write down, and that was it. It
was, of course, mostly funny and curious music, not all of it necessarily
inspired by Satie, but some of it was completely experimental and original.
Do you compose at the piano or do you think orchestrally
and write direct into short score or full score?
In all those "composing" years I have remained faithful
to myself and to try to hear music in my soul and to write it down with
the first and only preoccupation that it could eventually be performed
and heard. In other words, it should be dramatic or lyrical, not technically
dry. Since I am a very sensitive and emotional person, I must display
myself as such. I am in need of transmitting emotions to others, a thing
which I am doing all day long by speaking, working or making love with
the human being surrounding and liking me. In early times I wrote down
everything with the help of the piano, of course, but today, most pieces
are first being build-up in my head and written down as nearly finished
full scores. Today I have more distance towards my modest output as
a composer. I am even able to discover in myself a personal style. Of
course, thanks to my fanatical studies of music and music history, I
was able to study many scores and gained inspiration from them. I never
tried to imitate, since I wanted to remain myself doing something spontaneous
and original. In the meantime I have also arranged for chamber group
or orchestra songs by Ottorino Respighi, Othmar Schoeck, Hugo Wolf,
Jacques Ibert and Modest Mussorgsky. I have arranged a set of 4-hand
piano pieces by Respighi for chamber orchestra.
...... I can sit down at my computer and start composing
without problem at any time of day since I have so much music within
myself and the most exciting process is to materialise this, without
even counting that one day it could be really performed. I can even
destroy the piece after completion, but the thrill of creating it was
the real event.
By which of your compositions are you best represented
- which are you most proud of and why?
The works which are performed most are my arrangements
of Respighi and Mussorgsky songs, and that is quite a honour.
Do you use Sibelius software for composing? Has
this changed your approach to composing or is it simply a very convenient
Before using the Sibelius Software, which is great
(I could not imagine myself without it any more), I was using the Notator
program on a tiny Atari computer. I actually belonged in the late eighties
to the first Swiss group writing down music with computer software.
This is so convenient that you gain a lot of time. I am a terribly quick
thinker and everything I do must be done with a certain speed, if not
I get impatient and lose my tension while composing. A composing process
is a state of immense tension and excitement, it's like an extended
(but controlled) orgasm. I rather prefer to destroy a musical piece
in progress than to restart correcting and improving it. My main concern
is that it should be made in one casting. Even if it has not been completed
yet and its orchestral texture is still in progress, I am always tempted
to start the orchestration from the beginning again and redo it completely,
or to wait until I have enough time to be able to finish the whole piece
or movement in one session. Of course I have written nothing for a Straussian
orchestra and I see no need in these times to have such perverse ambitions.
Do you find your compositional activities are affected
by the works you are exploring and interpreting as a conductor - if
so - how?
Since my conducting activities are more than rare,
I have more time to compose, or to simply study scores. Every time you
open a score you can find some inspiration! It's something you store
in your brain and later on it comes out again as if reworked, or washed
with your own washing-powder. It may be just a chord or a little sequence,
or an instrumental detail. It may even cause the start of a whole work!
How would you describe the style of your music.
Well, it's lyrical, but with more modern harmonies,
of course. Always a conflict between triads and dissonances. Modern
chords become melodic vehicles, even if the melody is more simple. Some
pieces look as if they were purely constructed, but it's a play of intervals
and structures never following traditional rules, it's always rather
unreliable, but the musical form is simple. Sometimes I work with variations
and amuse myself using old dance forms by destroying them or transforming
them into other ones. But the listener should never get confused or
irritated, he should have himself a certain control over the piece in
order to be able to follow and to enjoy it.
Do you prefer the orchestra as a medium for composition,
the piano or the voice - opera?
I would like to compose for every one of these media.
Chamber music is great and I adore wind or brass ensembles.
Compositionally speaking who would you say are the
three leading influences on your composing style.
Well, I must still come back
to Erik Satie, Franz Schreker and Bernard
Herrmann, they were all special characters,
original and, in a way, "modern" composers
for their time, but they still wrote lyrical
and organic music coming from their hearts.
The influences I received are more from a
spiritual view than from a purely technical
one, although here and there some small technical
ones can be found...
see also Adriano
at 60 by Ian Lace
The Adriano Records LP catalogue featured:-
ADR 1 (1977) JOACHIM RAFF (Stereo) Grand Quintuor (Piano
Quintet, op.107)* Zürich Piano Quintet
ADR 2 (1977) OTTORINO RESPIGHI (Stereo) Violin Sonata
- 11 pieces for violin and piano* Robert Kunz & Rudolf am Bach
ADR M3 (1978) JACK TROMMER (Historical Mono) Romeo
und Julia auf dem Dorfe (Original Soundtrack)* Swiss Studio Orchestra,
ADR 4 (1983) OTTORINO RESPIGHI (Stereo) String Quartet
in D* - Doric String Quartet I Virtuosi Elvetici
ADR E5 (1979) OTTORINO RESPIGHI (Historical Mono) 5
Songs and 2 Italian Folksongs* Elsa & Ottorino Respighi performing
(coupled with historical recordings of other singers)
ADR 6 (1982) JULIUS REUBKE (Stereo) Sonata B flat major
- Mazurka and Scherzo* OTTO REUBKE 4 Pieces* Rudolf am Bach
ADR 7 (1983) ERNST PFIFFNER* (Stereo) Hafiz-Zyklus
- Polyhymnia - Suite for Violin, Piano Pieces Various Swiss Artists
ADR 8 (1988) GIOVANNI PALESTRINA (Stereo) Missa brevis
GREGORIO ALLEGRI Miserere A-cappella-Chor Zürich, Piergiuseppe
ADR E9 (1985) FRANZ SCHREKER (Historical) Der Schatzgräber
(Interlude)* Die Gezeichneten (Prelude Act III) EDWARD GRIEG Peer Gynt,
Suite No.1 GEORGES BIZET L'Arlésienne (Suites 1 & 2) Philharmonisches
Orchester Berlin, Franz Schreker
ADR 10 (1991) OTTORINO RESPIGHI (Digital Stereo)Tre
preludi sopra melodie gregoriane - 6 piano pieces* - 6 little pieces
(4-hands) Rudolf am Bach (with Evelyn am Bach)
ADR E11-12 (1993) Enrico Egano, Violoncello (Analog
Stereo) Works by SCHUMANN, BRAHMS, MENDESSOHN, KODALY & SHOSTAKOVICH
(Live recordings 1979-1983)
ADR 13 (1994) The Zurich String Trio (Digital Stereo)
BEETHOVEN: Serenade D Major DOHNANYI: Serenade C Major REGER: Trio A
Minor (Live recording)
ADRIANO'S LINKS (Updated January 2002)
Adriano's personal homepage:
Adriano's homepage at HNH International:
Adriano's interview with Rob Barnett (January 2002)
Adriano's interview with Matthew Kenneth Gear (October 1998)
Section "interviews" of Homepage http://www.adrianoweb.cjb.net
Adriano's Talk on Respighi and newly updated Discography on this composer:
*** WEB REVIEWS of Adriano's Marco Polo/Naxos recordings ***
OTTORINO RESPIGHI: La Primavera:
OTTORINO RESPIGHI: La bella dormente nel bosco:
OTTORINO RESPIGHI: Early Symphonic Works:
GEORGE TEMPLETON STRONG, Orchestral Works, Vol.I:
MARIO PILATI: Orchestral Works:
ALBERT FAESY: Orchestral Works:
GEORGES AURIC, Film Music I:
GEORGES AURIC, Film Music II:
GEORGES AURIC, Film Music III:
GEORGES AURIC, Film Music IV:
ON ALL AURIC CD's, there are articles on:
ERIK NORDGREN, Scores to films by Ingmar Bergman:
BERNARD HERRMANN, "Jane Eyre" (complete film score):
JACQUES IBERT, Film Music
Adriano's earlier film music CD's with scores by HONEGGER and IBERT:
*** Reviews of NAXOS music videos directed by Adriano ***
*** AUDIO SAMPLES from Adriano's Respighi CD'S ***
Adriano talks about his love
Adriano's list of complete
Respighi CD recordings and 2) Reissues
Adriano in conversation with
Pascale Honegger on Arthur Honegger and his film score for "Napoleon"
Fuller detail of MusicWeb
reviews of Adriano recordings
Film Music: Lola Montez. Notre-Dame de Paris. Farandole.
Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adriano
Marco Polo 8.225070 [63:33]
Film Music Vol IV
La Symphonie Pastorale; Macao, l'enfer du jeu; Du rififi chez les hommes
Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear).
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
MARCO POLO 8.225136 [59:33]
Rudolph FÄSY (1837-1891)
Götz von Berlichingen Prelude
Der Triumph der Liebe Prelude
Sempach Tone poem
Columbus Symphonic Suite
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Rec 2001 - location?
MARCO POLO 8.225134 [57.37]
HERRMANN Jane Eyre (1943) Slovak (Bratislava) RSO/Adriano
Marco Polo 8.223535 [68:15]
HONEGGER Les Miserables from the 1933 film The Slovak Radio Symphony
Orchestra (Bratislava) conducted by Adriano MARCO POLO 8.223181 [58:55]
Les Miserables (suite, 1933) La roue (overture, 1922) Mermoz (2 suites,
1943) Napoleon (suite, original version, 1926-7) The CSR Symphony Orchestra
(Bratislava) conducted by Adriano MARCO POLO 8.223134
also Full Review
Crime et chatiment (suite, 1934) Farinet ou L'or de la montagne
(suite, 1938) Le deserteur ou Je t'attendrai (fragment symphonique,
1939) Le grand barrage (image musicale pour orchestre, 1942) L'idee
(complete score, 1934) Jacques Tchamkerten, Ondes Martenot The Slovak
Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) conducted by Adriano Marco Polo
Mayerling (suite, 1936) Regain (suite I, 1937) Regain (suite II,
1937) Le demon de l'Himalaya (2 symphonic movements, 1935) The Slovak
Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) conducted by Adriano Marco Polo
see also Full Review
Macbeth (suite, 1948) Golgotha (suite, 1935) Don Quichotte (1933) Jacques
Tchamkerten, Ondes Martenot Henry Kiichli, bass The Slovak radio Symphony
Orchestra (Bratislava) conducted by Adriano Marco Polo 8.223287 [77:13]
NORDGREN (1913-1992) The Classic Film Music : The Bergman Suites
Slovak Radio SO/Adriano MARCO POLO 8.223682 [53:39]
Women's Waiting (1952); Smiles of a Summer Night (1955); Wild Strawberries
(1957); The Face (1958); The Garden of Eden (1961)
Concerto for Orchestra (1931-2)
Three Pieces for Orchestra (1929)
Suite for Strings and Piano (1925)
By the Cradle (Ninna-Nanna) (1938)
Slovak Radio SO/Adriano
Recorded at the Slovak Radio, Bratislava, May 2000 and January 2001
MARCO POLO 8.225156 [61.05]
TEMPLETON STRONG (1856-1948) Symphony No. 2 Sintram (1887-88) Chorale
on a Theme of Leo Hassler (1929) 7.09 Moscow SO/Adriano rec March 1998,
Moscow NAXOS 8.559018 [66.35]
WAXMAN Rebecca 1990 re-recording with Adriano conducting The Czecho-Slovak
Radio Symphony Orchestra Marco Polo 8.223399 *[72:25]
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