by David Bruce
C:T talks to David Greilsammer, pianist, conductor, and artistic director of Geneva Camerata, whose performances of Cage and Scarlatti sonatas come to the UK in Feb 2017
Tell us something about your background.
I was born and raised in Israel, in a very artistic home. My parents were not artists themselves, but they always cherished culture, music and arts, and made us kids understand how vital these elements are in our world. Thanks to them, I was able to discover the world of theatre, dance, painting, and literature, which today are all very central to my work. After my military service in Israel, I went to New York to study at the Juilliard School. This was an important experience in my life, because being in NYC when you are young gives you the opportunity to meet the most fascinating people and create magical collaborations with other artists. I moved to Europe after my studies, because I felt that for the programmes that I want to create, I would have more opportunities — especially since my involvement in contemporary music was growing at that time. After signing my first recording contract in France, I went on to live for 5 years in Paris, and that gave me the chance to discover both the Baroque scene and also the avant-garde contemporary world. Today, I live in Geneva, where I serve as conductor and artistic director of the Geneva Camerata, an orchestra that performs wild, eclectic, and challenging programmes!
Tell us about your recital of Scarlatti:Cage:Sonatas - what gave you the idea to pair these two composers?
I always deeply loved these two composers, because each one, in his own way, seemed like wanting to break the boundaries of sound. These two had a very clear mission, to go beyond everything that had ever been done with sound, instead of doing the same thing as others very well. And then, one day, I truly realised how stunning the similarities between their respective Sonatas are: the form was the same, the kind of writing was very much the same, and even some of the harmonies — as strange as it might sound — are similar. Their treatment of “dissonance” is very organic, very poetic. They are both radical composers, but in a constructive way that makes the listener very much “absorbed" by sound and colour. So I decided that it would be interesting to pair them. In my recital, I alternate between one and the other’s Sonatas, without any break, hoping that the lines will be blurred, as much as possible…
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