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Orests Silabriedis. Photo from the personal archive

As Nelsons himself said, “I feel sorry for Tchaikovsky, on a purely human level.” If you add a temperament and an architect’s mastery to this attitude, then you get the wonderful recordings that have been offered in recent years by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, led by our remarkable countryman.

I often get the impression that we expect from a musician an identification with the composer. Therefore, you would have to accumulate a certain amount of life experience before you can take up this or that piece of music. Nevertheless, I think that it is a mistake to apply this maxim to the most widely consumed music, that is, works by representatives of the Romantic era. Experience and good shooling are acutely required to learn how to make do with Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert. Not to even mention music from early periods. Intuition and a conductor’s instinct aren’t enough here. Yet in order to interpret music of the Romantic era, a deep search for (existing or non-existent) content often has precisely an adverse effect. A good musician must simply review the field and be able to divide up his strengths in such a way that the piece can be constructed as a combined whole. And this doesn’t have any relation to age or youth. A young person can be alert and read for a direct hit at the heart of the piece, just like a seasoned musician can be sloppy in his approach toward life in general, including toward music.

Of course, there are cases when you listen and feel that the music requires a different sort of life experience. For example, that was the case with a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto at our opera house, played by a beloved young pianist. As the second part played, all of the notes were in place, the mood was there, but it wasn’t to the very root. The worldly dimension was there, but not the otherworldly. But this depends on what a person knows about the construction of the world and models of human relations. A few don’t learn anything at all to the very end of their lives.

Among critics, things are quite different in matters of age and youth. Simpler. While you’re young, you spit out everything on your tongue, without thinking of the consequences, offending elderly people, and ruining relationships. It’s true, there is less comprehension. But as comprehension grows, so does the desire to be silent, to keep your opinion to yourself. Particularly in Latvia, where critics almost never write what they really think. The scene here is too narrow. Almost everybody is a colleague in some way or another, and with your statements you risk becoming a lifelong enemy. That sunny time of independent opinions belongs to youth, which has not yet bumped up against the professional environment.