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Artist interview: MARIA KLIEGEL - cellist

Among other Naxos recordings, Maria Kliegel has recorded three volumes of Beethoven's Music for Cello and Piano. The most recent (Volume 3 - 8.555787) is released in September 2004.

  1. How did you get started?

    Well, my father was a music teacher and he decided when I was about ten that my sister and I should learn to play string instruments. As the bigger twin, I got the cello! We played in quartets in the family, which was good as it teaches you how to perform in a group. So my initial musical education was at home, but I also entered youth competitions and this was really good because I got to meet other young people playing music.

  2. What about later education?

  3. I went to a masterclass in Canada when I was 19 and met Janos Starker, who became my teacher. He was very strict and imposed a lot of discipline, but I trusted him even though he was severe. He didn't just teach technique but also how to have a good approach as a human being to playing the cello.

  4. You also met Rostropovich - how did he help you?

    When I was 14 or 15 I always dreamed of going to Moscow to study with him - I had all his LPs - because he has such a fantastic sound and phrasing. Everything about his playing seemed so wonderful, and I really wanted to be his pupil. Whilst I admired Janos Starker as a pedagogue, I didn't really like his recordings to listen to, so this was different. I met Rostropovich at a four-week long masterclass in 1977. He completely changed my approach to the instrument and to music. Whilst Starker was very much like "OK, you have a problem with this, let's sort it out", Rostropovich had the attitude of "So you happen coincidentally to have a cello in your hand, but whatever problems there are, you have to sort them out musically first!"

  5. He wasn't a very 'technical' teacher then?

    If you asked him 'what fingering should I do here?' or 'how should I hold the bow here?', he'd say something like 'I don't care! Play with your feet if you want! Do what you want - but play the music.' So I guess with Starker I learned the rules, then with Rostropovich I learned how to break them! When you make recordings it can be very difficult to bring something new to the music if it's been recorded many times before. What I learned from Rostropovich was to express what I thought, and not just to do something different for the sake of it.

  6. Whereabouts in the repertoire do your preferences lie?

    Probably with Romantic and late Romantic. In Baroque music there are so many more rules - in the Romantic works and later, it's easier to express yourself.


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