Sarah Chang

Written by: Colin Anderson

For Sarah Chang, Max Bruch’s hugely popular Violin Concerto No. 1 “has a very special place in my heart. I played it first when I was extremely young as an audition for the Juilliard School. I only picked it up again a few years ago and fell in love with it all over again. It’s one of those works that tugs on your heartstrings; these beautiful, glorious melodies – I never get tired of it. Most of the pieces I learnt when I young I would play every year. The Bruch wasn’t like that. I have a vague recollection of what I did when I was five and decided I had to start from scratch.”

In the Barbican Hall on July 2 Sarah plays this “jewel of a concerto” with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mikko Franck. “I love the LSO. They’re my friends and musical family. We’ve gone on tour together; that’s when you reach out to the ones you know like to party, the ones who know the best restaurants and clubs, and who to go shopping with. Or if you want to read a book, you know who to go to. The LSO has such an amazing soul, this really magical quality of making you melt when they play: you just want to pick up your instrument.” Sarah’s EMI discography includes recordings with the LSO, not least the Dvořák and Tchaikovsky concertos with Sir Colin Davis. Her most recent recording is of Prokofiev and Shostakovich concertos with Sir Simon Rattle. The Four Seasons is planned next. “I’m having so much fun with that; there are countless ways to do it.”

Noting surprise that Sarah hasn’t yet recorded the Bruch No. 1, although she has essayed the very attractive Richard Strauss concerto (EMI), Sarah mentions pieces being written for her by Richard Danielpour and Christopher Theofandidis. “I’m always looking out for new pieces.” Sarah hopes to bring these to London. While outlining her relationship with the LSO, Sarah says that she is “big on rehearsal, very thorough. We have this unspoken trust. I played the first Shostakovich concerto, with Marin Alsop conducting (she’s wonderful), but I would never dare to do something as complicated and intricate as the Shostakovich on one rehearsal with any orchestra except the LSO.” As for Mikko Franck (who will no doubt deliver a distinctive view of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra during the forthcoming concert), will he play an influential part in how Sarah plays the Bruch concerto on this occasion? “I hope so. I’ve worked with Mikko quite a bit. What I enjoy more than anything are the private working sessions I have with conductors; that where you can discuss the music-making process – even if it is a concerto that I’ve done 600 times! There’s always something to learn. Every concert, every conductor and orchestra – there are so many things that can be done, so many different interpretations.”

I ask Sarah if she has a set plan before giving a concert. “I usually take a nap. Even if you want to schedule a regimented routine for yourself there are times when things get off-track. For me a routine is not good – I like to do things as they come.” Rather similar to playing live? “Yes, you need to leave room for spontaneity – that’s what makes concerts so much fun.”

  • LSO Concert, 2 July, Barbican
  • LSO
  • Barbican
  • EMI Classics
  • The above article was published in “What’s On in London” on 29 June 2006 and is reproduced here with permission

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content