An Interview With Jean-Pierre Rampal
The MHS Review 240 Vol 3, No 6 May 28, 1979
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My impression of Tartini is that it is a sort of Jewish-Italian style. I will define this for you. It is an extremely sensitive style and so it comes from me. but I still try to follow the printed score. You cannot improvise Tartini or Vivaldi or Bach.
On February 28, 1979, Jean-Pierre Rampal performed in Red Bank, N.J., a few miles from the Musical Heritage Society offices. A few of the MHS staff attended and were permitted a brief interview with Mr. Rampa/, the substance of which follows:
MHS: We would like to know if there is any particular reason why you use printed music. I am sure you have played each piece so many times that you have all of them committed to memory.
JPR: We were not trained to memorize when we were young. So. most of the time I use music
MHS: You seem to show a great deal of emotion in your music. a lot of passion. Why did you choose the flute as your vehicle of expression?
JPR: You are right. I chose the flute because it was in the family: my father was a flutist. I was impressed by him and I wished to follow in his footsteps.
MHS: Do you schedule your own programs?
JPR: Yes. Usually.
MHS: Do you have any particular period you like best: Romantic. Classic. etc.?
JPR: I love everything: I love Vivaldi and Bach. AHHHH. I love Ravi Shanker. who is an old friend. He has been asking me to do something with him for 12 or 15 years. Finally I did. and I love it very much. The first record was successful. the second was less successful. The third? It is not listed in the Schwann catalog. How can anyone find it? At least it should be listed.
MHS: Is it more important to be technically skilled at playing or to have sensitivity? You seem to do both very well.
JPR: When I do a recording. I am very much involved and I do my best to do both.
MHS: How important is the printed score? How much of Jean-Pierre is in your performance tonight and how much of Vivaldi?
JPR: In the case of Vivaldi. there is a lot of me. In the Tartini. you know the concerti, I think that is one of my best (MHS 976). I studied all the expression markings very closely. You know it is for the violin and it's a very special style. My impression of Tartini is that it is a sort of Jewish-Italian style. I will define this for you. It is an extremely sensitive style and so it comes from me. but I still try to follow the printed score. You cannot improvise Tartini or Vivaldi or Bach.
MHS: Do you think something like that could be taught? If so. how would you teach sensitivity?
JPR: If you feel something. you can show it. That is the only way. Could you sing the phrase? If you can sing the phrase correctly even if you are not a singer. then you are going to do it.
MHS: Are there any recordings of yours that you feel you are especially close to?
JPR: It is very difficult to say. Usually it is always the recording that I did last and which has not yet been released. I am now waiting for the one I made with Isaac Stern and which is not yet released. (Tentatively scheduled to be released by MHS in the fall)
MHS: Do you make the decisions on the splices or does someone else?
JPR: No I do not. I trust the people who are doing this. They know me very well. but I listen. There is not a lot of splicing: I try to avoid this. I do one movement completely They can do what they want except I can say that one version seems to me better than another.
MHS: One final question. Do you listen to your recordings·,
JPR: No. This is what I do when I get a new recording. I put it on the turntable and let it play. but there is always a phone call. By the end of the day maybe I have an idea of what it sounds like. Then I don ·1 listen anymore. except sometimes IO years later.