What do you need to feel at home while on tour? To feel at home while on tour is almost impossible, but there are things that make traveling and separation easier. I try to do the things I don’t have time to do at home, and make the most of this ‘away’ time so I don’t miss my three children!
I always bring along a bag full of vitamins, a yoga mat and a few different workout DVDs – I aim to do an hour a day, which helps me and my back stay in shape on long rehearsal or travel days. And then there is daily restaurant food and occasional drinking!
I thank the 21st century for Skype, MMS and SMS so I can stay in touch with loved ones. I always bring a few books and films – you should try and lift my suitcase. I have to say I enjoy this glimpse back into a life I used to have pre-family. I even manage to read the paper at breakfast!
And last but not least, I’m happy to give undivided attention to my instrument and if I need to practice I can take the time I need without compromise.
If I feel lonely, I can always call up a few colleagues and hang out together for a nice meal and quite honestly, the time passes so quickly!
The first piece of music you fell in love with: The piece that first made me dream was Smetana’s Die Moldau – it was on a tape in a collection by Deutsche Grammophon, read by Karl Böhm. My parents gave it to me, along with a tape recorder, and I used to go to bed with it under my pillow and listen until late at night. The music made me dream, I would listen to it over and over again… the fluidity, the sweeping melody, all the details, how all the instruments play together. Looking back I think it already made me want to play orchestra, to be a small part of something big and create beautiful music.
What makes a “perfect” concert? A perfect concert is one where you’re more energized at the end than at the beginning! I’ve had quite a few of those with MCO. Most of the time I look forward to the concert because having an audience there makes all the work worthwhile. Everybody concentrates and is ‘aware’ and ideally takes risks together, which creates some amazing results! When that happens, the concert becomes an adventure and it completely wakes you up! You just listen to each other and react, and if the conductor is very inspired he will try and get more out of you than in any rehearsal, get you to play softer or louder than you ever did, or faster – it can be so exhilarating that at the end you think to yourself: ‘What? We’re already finished?’! After concerts like those, it’s hard to calm down. You need a few hours to get out of this very positive energy! Lovely.
What CDs would you want with you on a desert island? Although I loved my first Smetana recording, the truth is that I no longer listen to music except for what I play! I do go to friends’ concerts, and I also buy recordings on iTunes if I have to learn a new piece I’m not familiar with. But apart from that, I must admit that listening to music since I became a performer is not relaxing for me! It’s too intense! I prefer silence – even when driving – it’s the only way I can let my thoughts wander and nothing interferes.
If on a desert island I would just listen to the sound of the sea and birds and wind in the trees. After having played a piece with amazing people, I have the performance and the sound so clearly in my head that I can’t imagine wanting to listen to a copy of it. It’s so much better in my heart and in my mind!
What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO? That’s easy: it’s a wonderful orchestra! Most of my colleagues will tell you that they love their orchestra and I think that’s pretty rare. The music is getting better and better and I am surrounded by intelligent and motivated people who – despite the fact that they already play at such a high level – want to continue improving. That is one of the greatest pleasures – being proud of your colleagues.
To that you add the chemistry between the musicians. No matter how different personalities are, there is space for everyone and tremendous tolerance. It’s like in a family where you know you are in this together and all want the same thing – to play great music – so that dissolves most of the problems and conflicts. I can honestly say that this orchestra feels like a family to me. I am always happy to reunite with it after a break. I have knows most of the musicians for a long time and shared a lot of experiences! Traveling can be difficult sometimes, but it also means we can all live in our home cities without having to give up playing in the MCO. We can balance other activities and even family life and at the same time be fulfilled musicians.
Béatrice Muthelet began studying violin at the Versailles Conservatoire. At age 19, after studying with Prof. Haim Taub in Israel, she decided to concentrate on the viola. She received a scholarship to study in New York and went on to become the only violist in Pinchas Zukerman’s class at the Manhattan School of Music. Upon returning to Europe she joined the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic and remained a member until 1999.
Béatrice is now principal violist in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She is regularly invited to lead in orchestras such as Bamberger Symphoniker, Scala in Milano, Munich Philharmonic and the Gewandhaus Leipzig, and is a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra created by Claudio Abbado. As a chamber musician, Béatrice attends festivals such as Aix-en-Provence, Festival St Denis, Verbier, Berliner Festspiele, Heimbach, Luzern, Edinburgh and Schubertiade. Her fellow musicians include Lars Vogt, Hélène Grimaud, Bruno Canino, Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell, Victoria Mullova, Isabelle van Keulen, Kolja Blacher, Gerard Caussé, Wolfram Christ, Emanuel Pahud, Paul Meyer, Steven Isserlis, Clemens Hagen and Alois Posch.
In 2001 Béatrice created a string quartet with Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Aki Saulière, and has recorded the Carnaval des Animaux and Septet by Saint Saens for Virgin Classics with them. She is also featured on two EMI recordings, one of the Mozart String Quintet in G and the other of the Schoenberg Chamber Symphony with Christian Tetzlaff and Boris Pergamenchikov. In 2007 the Quartet recorded the Brahms Clarinet Quintet for EMI with clarinetist Paul Meyer. Since 2007 her Quartet has performed in halls such as the Salle Pleyel,Paris, Auditorio Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Musikverein Vienna.