New Classical Tracks: Francisco Fullana explores past and present of 'Four Seasons'
New Classical Tracks: Francisco Fullana - Extended Interview
Francisco Fullana: Through the Lens of Time (Orchid Classics)
Her nickname is Miss Mary. She's a Guarneri del Gesu violin made in Cremona, Italy, in 1735. She was once Fritz Kreisler's violin. Now, she's in the hands of Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana. You can hear Miss Mary's sweet tone on his debut recording, Through the Lens of Time.
This recording is a dialogue between the baroque and the modern world. So how did Max Richter's The Four Seasons Recomposed fit into this concept and become part of the project — or maybe this was the starting point?
"Well, I think the two starting points were the Richter piece and the Isang Yun. They both fascinated me. In the case of the Richter, it just fits this kind of energetic and really intense playing or way of thinking that I have about music, especially about 20th-century music and baroque, and brings together those two sides that I'm really in love with and I love performing. It's really crazy and really fun to play."
So the Four Seasons, by Vivaldi — very familiar work; it's a work that you've known since you were a kid. How has Max Richter re-energized that work?
"I think of Richter's piece as a completely new work. Even from the very first moment, the first moment of 'Spring,' there's no way you think it's Vivaldi. I mean, he takes just about two and a half bars of the first solo of the piece and then brings it into his sound world.
"Max Richter's well known for his influences from minimalism an almost nonclassical music. He brings his gestures, and to me it almost feels like you're in the middle of a forest and the birds are talking to each other. Each gesture from Vivaldi becomes a different bird, and together it just sounds kind of like a big piece of chamber music."
So one of the things that strikes me about this piece is when I first started listening to it, it was like, 'Oh it's Vivaldi's Four Seasons,' right? But it's not. And then all of a sudden, it's like, 'Wow, this is cool,' and then I found myself cranking up the volume. Not that I wouldn't do that with the regular Four Seasons, but it sounded almost like Philip Glass to me. So when you said minimalism, it was like it had that same driving feel to it.
"I was reading an interview where Richter was talking about the piece, and he has such love for for Vivaldi's masterpiece and he leaves them basically untouched. And you know, actually, in the case of the second movement of 'Autumn,' it's exactly the same. Or he'll just make a small change but still keep the exact same character. So every movement is different, and really I think as a listener and definitely as a performer it just takes you on this journey back and forth."
So I have to ask you, do you ever feel kind of like a rock star when you're playing this?
"Well, I like to wear crazy or a little more extravagant clothes when I when I played this piece specifically. And I think the trick — or the kind of, 'key' is a better word — about playing this piece and you know connecting it to the audience and hopefully making a successful performance out of it is to really let go and not be afraid of — yeah, going to that extreme, of really getting to that very edge of your playing, of your volume, of your colors, of the type of sound that you're trying to get. You really have to push it. That's what I think brings this piece to life."
To hear the rest of my conversation with Francisco Fullana, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.