* Moldovan violinist not sure she can play own concerto
* Piece written for close friend who died suddenly
* "People should allow us to make mistakes", violinist says
By Michael Roddy
LONDON, March 14 Moldovan violinist Patricia
Kopatchinskaja has already applied her virtuosity to a musical
depiction of the Columbia shuttle disaster, down to the sounds
of the rockets blasting the doomed craft into space and its
disintegration on re-entry.
The stunning performance of Hungarian composer Peter
Eotvos's 2006 concerto "seven" - so named for the seven
astronauts who died in the 2003 disaster - was last year's
Gramophone magazine recording of the year.
But performing a piece that at times seems to require the
violin to disintegrate along with the shuttle is not enough for
the restless and questing Kopatchinskaja. For her 37th birthday
later this month, she will give the premiere of her first violin
concerto in Berne, Switzerland.
It is dedicated to a friend, the Romanian pianist Mihaela
Ursuleasa, who died suddenly a year and a half ago at the age of
33. Her death affected Kopatchinskaja so deeply that she said
she got carried away composing the music and is not sure she can
"It might be not very realistically written music, it's a
utopia," Kopatchinskaja who has a penetrating gaze and is as
spontaneous in an interview as she is in her concerts, told
Reuters over coffee and biscuits at a London hotel. "It's
something that ... shaped itself. It controlled me, I couldn't
control what I wrote."
That intensity and spontaneity is very much a part of a
phenomenon sometimes called "Patkop" by promoters seeking a
shorthand for the unfamiliar Molodovan name of someone who is
becoming ever more familiar in music circles.
During a recent visit to London, Kopatchinskaja added
another arrow to her quiver by leading, as first violinist, the
conductor-less Britten Sinfonia. She won thought-provoking
reviews for performances of Brahms, Bartok, Janacek and the
Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian.
"You can like or dislike her steely, confrontational timbre,
her penchant for extremes, her almost pathological impulse to
sway, jump, stamp or visually mirror every passing nuance,"
Richard Morrison wrote in The Times.
"What is beyond argument is her fierce, questing
intelligence, allied to a virtuosity that lets her turn her
instrument into a thousand different characters in a drama ..."
Kopatchinskaja might dispute some of that characterisation.
She has taken issue with journalists writing about her sometimes
performing barefoot, which she refuses to talk about anymore.
But she is also the first to assert that she wants
performances to contain an element of risk. Without it, she
thinks, classical music is suspended in aspic.
"I think concerts have become in our society something like
a social entertainment on a high level, where everything has to
be perfect and beautiful. But music is not only about making
people feel comfortable and relaxed and enjoying themselves.
"Art in general is something that is not very comfortable to
see or to experience - literature or painting or music."
She says when she walks onstage she puts everything - except
the notes - out of her mind.
"I hope to get an inspiration and to become like a column of
energy which connects the reality with another world," she said.
FROM A MUSICAL FAMILY
Kopatchinskaja comes from a musical family. Both her parents
are well-known folk musicians and her mother was classically
trained. But she forged her own musical path from an early age.
"Every folk musician in Moldova gets first a classical
(music) education, and when I got this education I enjoyed very
much classical music and modern music and there are so many
things to discover.
"So I don't play folk music and when my parents and I came
into the studio to record some pieces ... they wrote something
down ... because I know this music, I listened to this music all
my childhood, but I couldn't play it alone. It's only my roots
are in folk music."
Having broken with the family business, Kopatchinskaja is
making her own path in a music world where the boundaries
between classical, pop, folk, jazz and pretty much all genres
are becoming ever more porous - which probably suits her fine.
"I want to leave all streams open, everything should be
open," she said. "I would never say what I'm going to do in 10
years from now because I know it will be different.
"I think it's so important for an artist to remain fresh and
open to what happens in the world and never a make a definition
of something that he or she does because then it becomes a
monument and then it's dead, dead art, and art should be alive.
"People should allow us to make mistakes, this is very
(Editing by Larry King)