At just 22, English violinist Chloe Hanslip has already secured a reputation as
“one of the most talented and intelligent young musicians around.” She has
recorded six CDs, won the Young British Classical Performer award and played the
infant prodigy violinist in Ralph Fiennes’s film adaptation of Pushkin’s Evgeny
Ahead of her forthcoming appearance at the Eilat Chamber Music
Festival, she answered a few questions.
You have said you are interested
in politics and international relations. Have you come under any pressure
to cancel your performance here for political reasons? If so, what was your
response? If not, how would you respond to such pressure?
I am simply a musician
and believe that I am very privileged to be one. Music has the possibility to
speak to everyone, no matter where you are from, and can transcend all
barriers.What will you be performing in Eilat?
My first concert in Eilat
is a recital where I am playing Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8, Szymanowski’s Mythes,
Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Saint-Saens’s Sonata No. 1. This is a program
that I love to perform, especially the Szymanowski, as they are such intensely
beautiful pieces. In the second concert I will be playing Shostakovich Piano
Trio No. 2, which is quite possibly my favorite piano trio. It is such a heart
wrenchingly gorgeous piece.How did your career get started? Was becoming
a violinist something you pushed for or did your parents push you into it?
started playing at the age of two, mainly because one of my sisters was studying
in London to become a pianist, and as soon as I could walk, I would go up to the
piano to pick out the notes of the pieces that she was playing. Obviously my
parents gave me a violin to try, but I was never pushed into it – it was always
just something I wanted to do.
You started playing from a very young age
and studied in Germany away from home from the age of eight. Have you
been able to lead a “normal” life?
Well, it depends on what one thinks makes a
normal life. In terms of going to school and university, I suppose the answer
would be no. However, in terms of having friends, going out with them to the
cinema or shopping, I would have to say yes. Although I was, as you say, away
from home in Germany when I was eight, my mother was with me and my father came
to visit us every two weeks. I also got to travel a huge amount (and still do)
and feel very lucky to have these opportunities.Which musicians have
been the biggest influences on your career?
I would have to say that my teacher,
Zakhar Bron, has probably been the biggest influence in my career. I studied
with him for 10 years and learned so much from him – he is truly
amazing. Also, Ida Haendel has been a huge influence – I have been
fortunate enough to play for her a number of times and have got to know her very
well. She is a true inspiration.Do you believe that the way you play
reflects who you are inside?
This is a very difficult question to answer as I
believe it is a very individual thing.What is more important, expression
or technique? It is important to have a balance of both.
incredibly important, but if excessive is detrimental to the music. Having said
that, having a good technique is essential to a complete performance.Is
Perfection is obviously something that one constantly
strives for, but I don’t think one can ever think that one has achieved it.
Music constantly evolves and that is what makes it so special.How do you
balance your emotion and style and the desire of the composer?
important thing to remember is always that we are really just vessels through
which the composer speaks. So, it is most important to really know what is
written on the score. Only then is it possible to put one’s own stamp on the
music and even then, one must never lose sight of what the composer
What makes the difference between a good musician and a great
This is a difficult question to answer as I think that this is a very
personal thing. One person might think that an artist is great, but
another might think that that same artist is good but not incredible. For me, it
is how an artist communicates and speaks to me through his playing.When
you are playing, are you conscious of the audience?
When I play I do tend to go
into my own world.What do you think can be done to attract more young
people to classical music?
It is important for people to realize that classical
musicians are fairly normal and not just austere figures who stand on stage. I
have noticed recently that there are more young people in the audiences of
concerts, which is wonderful.Do be people need to be knowledgeable about
classical music to appreciate a performance?
I personally think that you don’t
have to be knowledgeable about classical music to enjoy a performance. For me in
any case, there shouldn’t be a divide between classical, pop, R’n’B... it’s a
question of whether music is good or bad. One doesn’t need to have knowledge to
know if a particular piece of music moves you or not.If you were
managing a music festival, what would be on your program?
There are so many
incredible works that it is difficult to say. However, if it were a chamber
music festival, I would have to include Tchaikovsky’s sextet Souvenir de
Florence, Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet and
Schubert’s Octet to name but a few.How do you decide which works you
want to play?
In many cases I am asked by a promoter if I will play a particular
piece. However, if it’s a recital, I have more maneuverability and I discuss
repertoire ideas with my pianist. I attempt to keep a balance in terms of styles
and, if possible, try to include something which is a little bit
unusual.What instrument do you play?
I play a Guarnerius “del Gesu”
violin which was made in Cremona in 1737.How many hours a day do you
practice and what do you do when you are not practicing?
How much practice I do
tends to vary depending on how many concerts I have and how much repertoire.
However, I normally do about five to eight hours a day and when not practicing,
I do admin and maybe some yoga.What are your interests outside music?
love reading, skiing, going to the gym and shopping. I’m also an avid car and
Formula One fan, although I don’t get much chance to watch the
races.What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading Jane
Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.What genres of music do you listen to
outside of classical music and which artists do you enjoy listening to the most?
I listen to most genres – I think it’s important to, but I especially love
artists such as Edith Piaf, Glenn Miller and Muse.If you weren’t a
musician, what career would you choose?
I can’t imagine not being a musician but
if really pushed, then I should like to train as a Formula One driver! Chloe
Hanslip will be performing on March 18 and 19. For more details and
reservations, please visit the festival site