In Search of Authenticity with Nadège Rochat
Interview and photos by
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‘Generous, selfless, persistent and positive people inspire me in general’ are the words of Swiss Cellist, Nadège Rochat.
From looking at her flourishing career and work process you can see that she has not only become her inspiration, but also radiates this mindset from a place of continuous authenticity. Today we discuss Rochat’s practice strategies, what she looks for in a collaborator and her upcoming work with Ilya Gringolts.
...I work towards precise goals for each movement/short pieces and then I allow a maximum amount of time to accomplish each task."
Who has inspired you?
Generous, selfless, persistent and positive people inspire me in general. When it comes to musicians, I am particularly fascinated by “vintage” pianists like Raul Kozcalski, Mieczysław Horszowski, of course Alfred Cortot, Walter Gieseking, Myra Hess, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Samson François, etc…
Their relationship to the written music and composers inspires me, I believe in Goethe’s phrase “in der Beschränkung erst zeigt sich der Meister” (Mastery is revealed in limitation): the seriousness with which these pianists approach the music, their respect for the composers, allows them, almost as a paradox, to enter a very personal expressive world.
Your cello has become quite famous, how do feel about this? Tell us about its story.
Just as you said this, I heard this anxious voice in my head “Wait, where is my cello?”. It is a responsibility to travel with a unique piece of art, whether it is famous or not. There was a time when it was new and not famous, but still, we are lucky that cellists looked after it for the next generations.
It was first made by Nicolo Amati as an Italian viola da gamba around 1620 for the Vatican, changed to a cello in 1703 and is since then called the “Ex-Vatican Stradivarius”. The paintings were added later, in the 1860’s as the cello was being repaired in Paris.
What was your process around finding an agent?
I have had a few agents (at the moment I am working with two), coincidence brought us together. But there are many ways to find an agent, it’s a partnership. It can be the result of an intense search, one can be recruited, it can be spontaneous, it doesn’t really matter. What is important is the quality of the relationship and teamwork. If it isn’t there, an agency is worth nothing for a musician. I thought that I was lucky when I got my first agent when I was 18, it felt flattering and cool, but looking back, I would have been better on my own.
What do you look for in an accompanist?
I don’t like the name “accompanist” as it sounds like a supporting role in the concert, which my piano and guitar partners are most definitely not. I look for flexibility and for players who might decide to do something totally different in the concert than what we spoke about in the rehearsal, if it makes more sense in the present moment. They also need to be able to deal with my own spontaneity. I don’t necessarily look for musicians who agree with my views on the music, I like when my convictions are challenged.
Who do you dream of working with?
Well, I’m currently working with Ilya Gringolts, and this is a pretty big dream come true. There are many great musicians I dream to work with, at the moment other names would include Heinz Holliger, Jordi Savall and François-Xavier Roth.
You’re also a teacher, what’s the greatest piece of advice that a teacher ever gave to you?
My main teachers have been Maria Kliegel in Cologne and Robert Cohen in London. But I can’t give just one sentence, there’s so many pieces of advice, like pixels which finally build a picture. In the heart of that picture, two guiding ideas stand out for me – authenticity and selflessness. They sound simple and yet the way is long. As for how to move fingers on a cello… it’s just practice.
Tell us about your upcoming work with Ilya Gringolts and Judith Jauregui.
We will be performing the triple concerto by Beethoven this week in Murten (Switzerland), it will be the first time for me and I can’t wait! This work is simply an explosion of beauty and joy.