Cellist Vogler brings international career to Springs
Who: The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, cello soloist Jan Vogler, conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech, the women of the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $19-$59; 520-7469; pikespeakcenter.com
Repertoire: Music by Stravinsky, Debussy and Bloch
Next: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet with Ballet Idaho, Nov. 23-25
It was a year to remember for cellist Jan Vogler: In 1996, he resigned from his position as principal cellist for the great Staatskapelle Dresden, the oldest orchestra in Germany. He began a career as a soloist. Then he moved to New York City where he married violinist Mira Wang.
Since that time, Vogler has become an international star in the world of classical music. He is a top-selling recording artist for Sony and Berlin Classics.
Due in Colorado Springs for the first time, Vogler will be performing Ernest Bloch's "Schelomo for Cello and Orchestra" under the direction of Josep Caballé-Domenech with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. He will later travel with that work to Brazil, Italy and then back home, where he'll perform it with the New York Philharmonic and music director Alan Gilbert before embarking on a tour with that orchestra.
The Gazette: Do you know our music director, Josep Caballé-Domenech?
Jan Vogler: Yes. That's how my relationship with Colorado Springs evolved. I played with him at the Ft. Worth Symphony in January, 2011. We did Shostakovich's (Cello Concerto) No. 1. He contacted me and said "oh, I just got a new job in Colorado Springs and would you like to come?" and I said "I would love to."
Gazette: Josep is a younger conductor. Is there an issue working with someone of his age, especially when compared to a venerable conductor such as Lorin Maazel with whom you've worked a lot?
Vogler: You mention a very interesting spread from Josep to Lorin Maazel. The young people who have talent, think new and have a lot of vision for what they want to achieve. Whether they will achieve everything they envision is another story. The value and beautiful thing about young people is their willingness to shake up things and try something new.
Then there's someone like Maazel who is carrying on a full legacy. When I played the same Shostakovich concerto with him and the Munich Philharmonic last fall, after the rehearsal I couldn't hold back to ask "when did you play this with (Mstislav) Rostropovich?" And he told me he played the first performance of this piece with him in the West. I also played the work with the (Gennady) Rozhdestvensky, the great Russian conductor, this spring in Singapore.
You have these experiences with people who touched history, who met Shostakovich, met the artists who premiered these pieces. Then you have you have the young people who are very intense and have a lot of temperament. Josep actually has a lot of temperament, which I like. He has real fire. Both are very interesting and maybe these are the two most creative forces we have in music: the great masters and the young and fresh.
Gazette: I've heard from musicians I know that being a touring soloist is simply a choice. They claim that many orchestral players could have been soloists if that was a life style they preferred. You left a very prestigious position in an internationally-renowned orchestra. Are you glad you ultimately chose a solo career?
Vogler: You're totally on the point. I have a brother (Kai) who came with me to Dresden and became the concertmaster of the Staatskapelle. He is still there. He likes his stable life. He doesn't like traveling as much. He has a somewhat different nature, but he is an excellent violinist who also could have had a solo career -- in my opinion. It's totally true that we make choices according to our character. The older you get, the talent becomes less and less important and the character more important. I have the right nature to be a soloist. You have to have high endurance and enjoy traveling and to be curious and want to play in different places.
Gazette: You'll be performing the Bloch "Schelomo" here in the Springs. Its subtitle is "Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra." It is said that your cello solo is nothing less than the voice of King Solomon. Do you allow yourself to be a vessel and become the voice of this ancient Jewish monarch?
Vogler: In making music, you try to gain so much control over a piece so that you can lose yourself. Great things only happen if you let it fly, if you let it go. That means going through a long process of knowing every detail of the piece.
The "Schelomo" is a work where most expressions are delivered through the sound of the cello. Compared to the DvoÅ™ák or Schumann Cello Concertos or the Tchaikovsky "Rococo Variations", playing "Schelomo" as a track race does not win you the battle. Maybe I'm so interested in the work because I was always feeling that my special way to express on the cello is more the sound than anything else- not worrying about virtuosity or structure.
This an expression which Bloch always talked about in his description of "Schelomo." He wanted the piece to be sung, almost from a cantor. The cello is very well chosen for this. In the beginning, he had thought about using voice instead of a cello. The piece became a huge success in its time because I think he was the first composer who clearly said to the cellist "OK, sing as much as you can." He really wanted this more than phrasing or articulating. It's still leading the repertoire in that sense. No other piece is going that far in terms of vocal qualities.