Q&A with Midori Seiler and Kai Köpp

Robert & Clara Schumann

After a first collaboration with the orchestra in 2021, violinist Midori Seiler and researcher Kai Köpp join forces again to embody the past. Their starting point for their project are historical recordings made by students of Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim. Listening to those old recordings today, we hardly believe our ears. Floating tempos, fluttering rhythms, flowing intonation…! It’s like pop music! Through those early records, can we revive the savoir-faire of those days? For Seiler and Köpp, Clara Schumann’s music is the ideal test case. The concert on Sunday 8 October at Concertgebouw Brugge is the final stage of a journey full of artistic research, questions and imagination.

What are the main questions that you’re asking yourself in this project?

Köpp: I always asked myself how our colleague-musicians centuries ago would have understood the scores that we still play today and how they turned their parts into performances. For this program the main question is: “How would Clara Schumann have played the pieces composed or first performed by her – or dedicated to her – in a given context?” 

Any closer to an answer yet?

Seiler: We are lucky: the past is still alive. There is a 1928 historical recording of Robert Schumann’s piano concerto, played by Fanny Davis, who was a student of Clara Schumann. This concerto had been first performed by Clara, so we can pretty much hear her “school” by this recording. We will use this treasure for our preparation.

Köpp: In a step-by-step analysis of this early recording, the researching musician gets an inside perspective about an authentic performance, that we will apply in a truly historically informed performance of romantic repertoire. This will be much closer to the style and esthetic of the 19th century than anything we heard in performances so far. 

Are the musicians of Anima Eterna a good match for this method of performance?

Köpp: The musicians’ experience in classical and romantic repertoire as well as their curiosity to “play with history” is the perfect environment for performing 19th century repertoire on a new stylistic level. 

Seiler: These great musicians have the spirit of unconditional coherence on stage, the ability to develop and the curiosity for the unusual. I love working with Anima.

Want to see Anima Eterna and Midori Seiler live at work? Come to one of the Atelier Anima concerts from 25 to 29 September and Robert & Clara Schumann on 8 October in Concertgebouw Brugge.