Q&A with Thomas Gould

Ahead of Britten Sinfonia's upcoming performance of Max Richter's The Four Seasons Recomposed, we spoke to Thomas Gould, who will direct this concert from the violin.

Thomas Gould playing violin with overlaid text 'The Four Seasons Recomposed' that looks like a neon sign.

What attracts you to The Four Seasons Recomposed?

Playing The Four Seasons Recomposed really requires the soloist to be two violinists in one: on the one hand playing the original Vivaldi elements with appropriate awareness of Baroque style and taste, but also taking flight over the massed strings in the more filmic sections in a much less classical way. There’s a huge opportunity to put one’s own stamp on the music as Richter hasn’t been overly prescriptive with his markings. All this makes it an unusually fun piece in the violin repertoire.

How do you think Max Richter's work has stood the test of time over the last 10 years?

Since the record-breaking 2014 release of the original Vivaldi Recomposed album, I’m aware of at least two further studio recordings of the work, and its use in numerous film and tv soundtracks and commercials. It’s pretty rare for new music to have this kind of reach and penetration into the playlists we listen to and music that reaches us in our living rooms, so the piece’s success and enduring popularity speak for themselves.

Does it feel different to be directing it, compared to being part of the ensemble?

I’ve played the solo part twice before (once to a sold-out Barbican with Britten Sinfonia for the Sound Unbound Festival) and played in the orchestra once, but this is my first time directing the piece from the violin. It will be a chance to put a bit more of my own stamp on the interpretation, and working without a conductor is something we love to do at Britten Sinfonia because it engages all the players that bit more.

How would you describe the experience you are trying to give audience members through the full programme?

All the pieces in the concert have a hypnotic repetitive quality that really rewards close listening but also encourages the mind to travel and create a visual accompaniment to the music. Tavener’s Song for Athene should provide a calm and hypnotic moment preparing the listener for the journey ahead. Adams’ Shaker Loops is one of the great 20th Century masterpieces for strings – original, transporting and quietly virtuosic. Vivaldi Recomposed will be the most familiar music to the audience, yet it’s full of surprises as it pays homage to Vivaldi’s original score with an ingenious combination of wit, quirkiness and reverence.

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