Pintscher’s Philosophical Ponderings

By Erik Petersons on January 21, 2011

This Wednesday’s appearance of Matthias Pintscher at the Perelman Theater will be to conduct the Curtis Chamber Orchestra in a concert that includes Stravinsky, Henze, and Ravel.  To close the concert, Pintscher will lead the orchestra in a performance of one of his own works — Songs from Solomon’s Garden.  The orchestral soundscape that Pintscher has created surrounds a baritone solo that bears the text from part of the Shir HaShirim — the Song of Solomon.

Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic’s new music series (Contact!) and premiered in 2010, Pintscher was interviewed about the work.  He gives wonderful insight into the discourse the orchestra and the soloists have together as well as the kind of interaction he hopes the audience has with the work as they listen.  He contends that it is by no means a one way street and deliberately leaves the work “open,” enticing listeners to use their imagination to understand the music.   His whole interview can be watched below, but I transcribed a section that gives Pintscher’s philosophical view of music.  It will definitely give you something to ponder.

In the Hebrew language everything seems to be so condensed.  Every individual word is so meaningful and radiant.  That inspired me to create a sound world that can develop around these words.  It is never that the orchestra or my sounds are accompanying the singer.  But they are like two characters.  The orchestra is one character.  The singer, with the words he is carrying forth, is the other character.  They start a dialog at equal eye-level.

Technique is the consequence of experiences.  Of course I have technique, my tools.  But for every new piece, I am trying to find some kind of unique inspiration.  My music is very closely related to poetry, to words, and definitely to visual arts.

I never start a piece with a form and try to fill it with music.  Sound in its primordial state is always the first significant moment of where the music is created.  You can describe it as musical events or objects which then start talking to each other and gradually develop a story.  Looking at a piece of art should involve our own potential for creativity.  Listening to music is the same process.  What we don’t have inside, you can never find in a piece of art.

That is also why I like to leave — whatever form of art it is — open, so that the listener, the person who looks at it, can enter.  I don’t particularly like art that throws out a message: “This is how it is.”  I would rather enchant a listener to come closer… “what was that?”… “I want to know more about it”… “Can I touch it?”… “I like that quality.”  To make people want to come closer — that is something I am working on very consciously; how that can be achieved.