Sebastian Bohren — Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 3 & 5 (Avie Records)

Sebastian Bohren talks to Violin Magazine about his latest solo album: Mozart Concertos 3 & 5 with the Chaarts Chamber Artists on Avie Records. Listen to it here!


You have worked with the Chaarts Chamber Artists on two previous albums, and you have released in 2021 the Mozart Concertos 3 and 5. We assume you will feel at home performing with this fantastic Swiss ensemble. Tell us about working together with them.

I’ll be honest, every time it is a different experience! It’s like a Christmas present. Every time you open it up, it’s a surprising experience. The thing is, I believe in long-term collaborations. One can achieve better quality this way. From the beginning, the Chaarts ensemble gave me a lot of opportunities because I was originally a member of the group. Eventually, I had an opportunity to play a solo piece, Vox amoris by Pēteris Vasks. There is a beautiful performance of that piece online that served as my little break-out in Switzerland. We all call the same region home, so naturally, it makes sense for us to work together. Most of our work is very fruitful, but it is almost like working with your family because we are so close. It can sometimes be tough! If I have a project with them, I need extra patience because I know what things might go well and what things might not. In that way, it’s easier for me to play with an ensemble that I’m not as familiar with.

With the Mozart violin concerti, we actually recorded them twice. In the first recording, I was totally unhappy with myself. We played a concert and then recorded at the end of the week. I was more or less prepared at the beginning of the week, and the group was still learning their parts, but then I got sick, and our levels of preparedness switched places. The recording just sounded weak in the end. I’m sure if I had released that version, we would have gotten some good reviews, but personally, I didn’t want that recording out in the world. I made the painful decision to record all of it again as soon as recording was possible again. I did a lot of fundraising to be able to re-record everything, and I got all the same musicians. It felt like repeating a year in school if you don’t do well. It was a good learning experience for me, though, because I learned how to uphold a high standard of musicianship even when it wasn’t easy. This new recording is not perfect, but I am still very proud of what we accomplished.

Were you able to rework the Mozart concerti in different ways than they have already been interpreted?

I’m not looking to do anything very differently than what has been done. I was looking to play the operatic version of Mozart with a lot of life and panache. We worked hard to get a well-rounded, energetic sound but to also maintain the classicist composure that his music exudes. I think the slow movements are most worth listening to. During lockdown in 2020, I was reworking these concerti for two months. I thought about each bar, each phrase, each fingering, everything. It turned out to be a project that I was very proud of. We received very positive reviews, with the exception of one from the United States. This reviewer had quite an old-fashioned opinion about sound, but aside from this criticism, we received outstanding feedback. It was the best of my recordings yet in how the press viewed it.


Full Interview: “The Thing About Violin Playing Is That It’s Like a Fresh Dish; It Has to Be Prepared and Served à la minute”

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