«Musik erschöpft sich nicht in Tempo und Dynamik»
In diesem März wird Hartmut Haenchen 70 Jahre alt. Gebucht ist er bis 2017 in aller Welt – nur nicht in Deutschland. Ein Dirigent, der sich oft jahrelang auf ein neues Werk vorbereitet – wissenschaftlich-philologische Details inbegriffen. Einer, für den angemessene Probenbedingungen zur Sache selbst gehören. Einer, dem die Musik wichtiger ist als die Karriere. Haenchens Deutungen von Mozart, Wagner und Strauss gelten als exemplarisch. Für die Moderne zwischen Reimanns Lear und Zimmermanns Soldaten hat er sich lebenslang eingesetzt. Und mit seinem Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach hat er über 50 CDs aufgenommen. Hartmut Haenchen bereitet sich oft jahrelang auf ein neues Werk vor – wissenschaftlich-philologische Details inbegriffen.
Sie werden jetzt siebzig, kamen als Dirigent erst spät ins internationale Geschäft und haben nach dem Weg über Halle, Zwickau und Dresden Ihre erste Chefposition in Schwerin gehabt. Die Tendenz geht heute in die andere Richtung: Nicht einmal der Posten des Ersten Kapellmeisters an großen Häusern ist wirklich begehrt. Junge Dirigenten wollen sofort Chefs werden, und wer mit dreißig keine berühmten Orchester geleitet hat, bekommt eine Krise. Hat gutes Dirigieren mit Reife zu tun?
Es gibt heute zweifellos sehr gute junge Dirigenten. Ich frage mich nur, wie sie mit sechzig oder siebzig Jahren dirigieren. Sind sie dann besser? Können sie einen Reifeprozess durchleben, wenn sie so hoch einsteigen? Ich würde von mir behaupten, dass ich im Laufe der Jahre besser geworden bin. Als sehr junger Mensch habe ich zum Beispiel den ....
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Englische Zusammenfassung in
The former head of the Netherlands Philharmonic and General Music Director of the Netherlands Opera turns 70 this month. In this interview with Stephan Mösch, he recalls his time working in the former East Germany and discusses topics ranging from his approach to conducting to his views of Historically Informed Performance practices.
In the former Communist bloc countries, the arts had a more direct, existential character than they did in the West, he says, and with music, this involved a certain “listening between the lines.” He cites as an example Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, in which the high “a” in the finale becomes a sort of code language through which the composer asserted himself in the wake of the disaster with Stalin and the Fourth Symphony. As Haenchen explains it, that note shares the same word in the Russian language as the first person pronoun, “I,” and was, in essence, Shostakovich saying, “I’m still here.” Haenchen himself was not popular with the East German authorities, who finally allowed him to relocate to The Netherlands under the condition that he would send 20 percent of his earnings over the following 10 years back to the DDR. He dryly observes that, “for foreign currency, the DDR also sold its ideology.” Although he earned what appeared to be a considerable sum in Amsterdam, his entire salary was consumed by tax payments to The Netherlands (72 percent at that time) and East Germany (the aforementioned 20 percent), plus another 10 percent that went to his agency. Finding housing had also been a problem, since people were reluctant to rent to someone who came from the East bloc, was a musician, and a German on top of it. He finally had to take out a loan to buy a house for himself and his family, even though his initial contract with the Philharmonic and the Opera was only for three years. Things were so tight financially that his wife had to figure out who could take a shower when, and had to portion out the slices in a loaf of bread.
Haenchen came on the international scene relatively late, and received his first principal conductor position in Schwerin after years in secondary positions in Halle, Zwickau, and Dresden. When the interviewer notes that many young conductors today are interested in only the top job with an orchestra and worry if they haven’t achieved this level by age 30, Haenchen isn’t directly critical. He observes that there are “doubtless” very good young conductors now, and only wonders how they will be performing at age 60 or 70. Will they have improved at all, or will they have gone through the necessary maturation process when they’ve already risen so high in their profession so early? He says he himself made the mistake of conducting Fidelio at the Bavarian State Opera when he was young, an opera he describes as “murderously difficult.” He never touched it again, and will finally try once more in two years at Madrid’s Teatro Real. He waited until he was 62 to conduct Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, by which time he felt he “really had something to say” with it, and had likewise held off conducting the composer’s Eroica until he was 55.
Having sufficient rehearsal time, whether he’s conducting an opera, orchestral performance, or concert with soloist, is vitally important to him. He passed up an offer to conduct Parsifal at the Vienna State Opera because only three rehearsals with orchestra were scheduled. It’s his custom to place copies of the partitur with his notations on articulation, dynamics, ornamentation, vibrato, and other details on the players’ music stands at the beginning of rehearsals. Although some orchestras initially resisted – they wanted to play as they always had, with concessions to the conductor only in the choice of tempos and dynamic levels – Haenchen says most ensembles now appreciate his approach. He also notes that both Wagner and Richard Strauss made some adjustments to their operas during rehearsals, and that these “retouches” are not included in the operas’ printed scores. He considers it important to examine these changes and – particularly with Wagner – try to determine if they were made only to insure the work would be performed, or if they were made because the composer had seriously changed his mind or had additional ideas about the work. He says that his own insistence on the use of portamenti with Wagner’s music has caused raised eyebrows among some singers. But he observes that Wagner wrote down where he wanted portamenti and was entirely consistent in his application of them – possibly the composer’s reaction to what he considered the overuse of portamenti at the time. In addition, based on his own historical research, Haenchen says that the music of Bach or the Vienna Classical period should be performed with vibrato; not much, but some. In connection with this, he describes the 19th century addition of chin rests to violins and how this affected performances with regard to “finger vibrato.” Also for historical reasons, Haenchen opposes the use of the pianoforte in place of the harpsichord in performances of the Mozart-da Ponte operas, pointing out that such instruments didn’t exist in opera houses in Mozart’s time. Nor should the harpsichord be limited to accompanying recitatives, he says. He cites a sketch made of the world premiere of Don Giovanni in Prague, which showed two harpsichords: one from which Mozart conducted and accompanied the recitatives, and another positioned among the continuos. He says it has also been clearly proven that Mozart used a cello and double bass along with the harpsichord, though Haenchen adds that it’s not known whether or not these two instruments were always played whenever the harpsichord was used. He notes as well that there are passages in these operas where a dark, compact sound is required, and in which use of the harpsichord would definitely be out of place.