Work & Play: a five-minute interview with our collaborators, soloists and other artists we have the pleasure of working with on life as a musician, on tour and at home.
Mozart and Brahms wrote just one clarinet quintet each, both in the final years of their lives. But it’s their inherent quality and charm, not only their solitary status, which has always made these quintets stand out amongst each composer’s repertoire. Mozart’s is now not only one of his best-known pieces, but one of the most cherished in the clarinet repertoire, and it’s easy to see why: moments of understated virtuosity bloom from a soft, calm, mellow beauty. Brahms’ quintet – modelled on Mozart’s, as so many of his works are – is similarly autumnal in mood, with waves of contemplative major and melancholic minor moods shifting like sunlight.
From 7 – 14 October, in Dumfries (7 Oct), Perth (8 Oct), Edinburgh (9 Oct), Inverness (10 Oct), Glasgow (12 Oct) and Kirkcudbright (14 Oct), we’re thrilled to be joined by clarinettist Matthew Hunt in this exploration of these two subtly nuanced works (and if you want to read more on the music, you can take a look at the programme notes).
We first performed this concert with Matthew in August this year in Plockton, and on Skye and Mull, alongside workshops with local musicians as part of our year-round creative learning programme, and it was a real pleasure collaborating with such a skilled chamber musician – something which we hope you’ll detect in our performance together.
Ahead of the Chamber Notes, we caught up with Matthew for a quick chat about life as a musician.
What’s your favourite venue to play?
That’s a tricky one – there have been quite a few memorable ones, all for different reasons, but I think if I had a favourite, it has to be the Laieszhalle in Hamburg. It’s the most perfect acoustic and it’s one of the venues where Maria Callas was filmed singing.
What is/are your favourite piece(s) to play?
I have to confess, that Mozart clarinet quintet comes pretty much top of my list, but that’s maybe too predictable. I’m a great fan of both Sibelius and Stravinsky. Always thrilled to play anything by either of them. This summer I played in a performance of Sibelius’ fifth symphony. There are few pleasures like filling your lungs and playing the swans’ airborne melody over a section of horns as they take over the bass line and that motif gets given the crown it’s being pining for.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
These are tricky questions! I do however remember a Schubert octet at Wigmore Hall with the one and only Pekka Kuusisto that’s gonna take a lot of beating.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
This year, playing Magnus Lindberg’s clarinet concerto in Bogotá at 3000m altitude. Deep breaths and fast fingers.
Do you have any pre-concert concert rituals?
I always worry that my clarinet reed is either too young and not blown in or is about to die. Wind players and their reeds have complicated relationships.
What are the best things about being on tour?
Going for amazing meals around the world with my friends.
What are the worst things about being on tour?
Aside from going for bad meals around the world without any friends, not sleeping in my own bed.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from tour?
Have a soak in the bath with a book having played my beautiful 6’3” Blüthner grand piano whilst the bath was running.
If you hadn’t become a musician, what do you think you’d be doing now?
I’d be perfecting the perfect stuffed pasta recipe, which would very likely comprise squash, butter and sage.
Where in the world would you most like to live?
Ferrara in Italy – the stuffed pumpkin cappellacci with butter and sage are too good not to live there.