Maria Prinz at the stage of Sofia Philharmonic
Ms. Prinz, you are a well-known pianist, daughter of Konstantin Iliev, the famous Bulgarian conductor and composer. Although you live in Austria, you keep coming back to Bulgaria, bringing great musicians along with you. What have you prepared for us this time?
Ms. Prinz: I was born in Bulgaria. I left the country at age of 18 to study in Berlin and for the last 30 years I live and work in Vienna. Having the privilege to work with some of the world finest musicians, it is always a pleasure for me to bring them to Bulgaria, to show to them the best of what Bulgaria has to offer and on the other side to give the Bulgarian audience the opportunity to meet great international artists in Bulgarian concert halls to affordable prices. For the season 2016/2017 I will present a set of 4 chamber music concerts with stars from the international stages and musicians from the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. The first concert will be on 29th of November with Andrew Marriner (solo clarinetist at the London Symphony Orchestra), the second – will take place on 28th of January with Céline Moinet (solo oboe at Staatskapelle Dresden) and Sophie Dartigalongue (solo bassoon at Vienna Philharmonic), the third – on 24th of April with the great young Russian mezzo-soprano Margarita Gritskova (soloist at the Vienna State Opera) and the last one – on 20th of June with Robert Nagy (solo violoncellist at Vienna Philharmonic). I will be the pianist in all those concerts and we will play a very interesting and entertaining repertoire. All the concerts will take place in “Bulgaria” Chamber Music Hall in Sofia.
Unfortunately the music world lost recently Sir Neville Mariner. You were supposed to be on stage togehter at the Sofia Philharmonic on 1st December. Could you tell us about your longtime frienship and work with him?
Ms. Prinz: I am deeply sad and still cannot believe, that Sir Neville Marriner is no more with us. He was not only one of the most important and inspiring musicians of our time, but also a sunny, warmhearted and optimistic person and a very dear friend for the last 20 years, almost family to me. I have so many happy memories of lots of concerts, of our CD with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (Chandos 10791), released in September 2013, of wonderful trips and precious, blissful moments. He was looking very much forward to his third concert with Sofia Philharmonic on December 1st and to our performance of Schumann piano concerto. Now it is going to be a Sir Neville Marriner Memorial Concert and we would like it to be a very special and meaningful event. I hope, the audience will pay, together with us, a tribute to this great musician and humanist.
You will play with his son, Andrew Marriner. Could you tell us more about him?
Ms. Prinz: Andrew Marriner is one of the most renowned clarinetists of our time. He is solo clarinetist of the London Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed soloists and chamber musician all over the world. He recorded important CDs of the clarinet concertos by Mozart, Weber, Finzi with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St.Martin in the Fields. Our biographies have many similarities – both our fathers were famous conductors (both born in 1924), we are almost of the same age and initially our fathers didn’t show a lot of interest in our musical ambitions, which changed later and we were lucky enough to perform on stage with our fathers. Andrew and I played a lot of recitals together – in Bulgaria, in Belgium and in Austria. We enjoy a good chat and share the same sense of humor. Andrew will stay in Sofia for the Memorial concert on December 1st. This gesture means a lot to me and to Sofia Philharmonic!
Do you see any new trends in concert-going in general? What are the similarities and the differences between the audiences in Vienna and Sofia?
Ms. Prinz: I am very worried about the declining audience for classical music in Bulgaria. I know, that people’s life is not easy, but this should be one more reason to escape everyday life when you go to a concert. Two hours of beauty and emotional experience shouldn’t be considered as luxury, but as a possibility for regeneration, to recharge the batteries and feel after the concert more optimistic and happy. We have no audience problem in Vienna, although there are 2 or 3 opera performances and minimum 4-5 concerts every night. Classical music is a major need and it defines the quality of life in Vienna as an important part of the nation’s identity. I dream of similar circumstances in Sofia! It is not impossible, believe me!
Who is your favorite composer and why?
Ms. Prinz: There are different periods in a musician’s life and different preferences. If I have to mention the constants in my musical life – I would choose Mozart and Schubert, but I enjoy enormously playing Schumann, Brahms, Schostakovitch and many more.
Of all the musicians you have worked with, who could you name as your musical soulmate?
Ms. Prinz: It was definitely Sir Neville Marriner! Therefor the emptiness now is enormous.
What’s your favorite place in Sofia, you visit every time you come back?
Ms. Prinz: My favorite place is and always has been „Bulgaria“ Hall! This is one of the finest concert halls in the world (and I have seen and played in quite a lot!). “Bulgaria” Hall has an unique atmosphere, an excellent acoustics, appreciated by artists such as Sir Neville Marriner, Matthias Goerne, Patrick Gallois, Dieter Flury. This was my favorite place already in my childhood, where I spent more time as at home, listening to rehearsals and concerts of my father and my feelings for this place haven’t changed since.
What awaits you after the concerts in Sofia?
Ms. Prinz: The season 2016/2017 is a very busy one! I have many new programs to learn – especially for my Carnegie Hall piano recital in April 2017 with works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin. In March 2017 will be the release of a new Naxos CD with Puccini songs with Krassimira Stoyanova and we will have presentation of the CD in New York and other places. As I already mentioned I will be back in Sofia for 3 more concerts of my chamber music set and will perform Brahms “Schöne Magelone” at the festival “March music days” in Russe.