"Bach did not die" - A talk with Isang Enders

Those who were lucky enough to be a part of a concert given by ISANG ENDERS (27) in Budapest (Budapest Music Centre) on January 28, 2015, most probably wished: that evening had never come to its end. On the stage,  in a most evident way, there was sitting a lonesome young man with his inviting, moreover, flirty companion - a cello. And in some seconds by the sounds of Bach Cello Suits 300 hundred listeners were forced to take breath in and out with this extraordinary couple. The fans of classical music know well that Bach’s Cello Suits would cherish the audience with an extraordinary experience, but, at the same time, these pieces would call for a super challenge for the performer.  It is not a mere „show”, here it is not enough to play the „great card”, yes, here you need peculiar skills, that normally we call virtuosity.  (Perhaps it was not by accident that Pablo Casals only agreed to make studio records of the Suites when he was sixty. But, of course, that was a different age) 

A musician’s best name-card is his/her music. However, the interview he gave to KCC Budapest, is to unmask this young German-Korean cellist’s out-of-the-common, „sui” personality, yet, portraying an artist who is an instincive, frank but deeply concerned thinker of his professional vocation and credo.  

 

·         Bach was around of your age when, presumably, he composed his cello suits. Do you think the similar age of two artists can make them get closer to each other? In other words: was your age to help you in better understanding and interpretation of the master and his works?

I’d like to believe that we are not too far from each other in spite of the roughly 300 years in time-line. But I think, people of similar age feel in a very similar way, they own similar behaviour and spirit, of course within the circumstances of the given era and century. Bach perhaps lived amongst the same concerns, desires and ambitions as I live now. But he until this age, I mean when he wrote his cello suits, already had been composing hundreds of pieces of music, his knowledge and skills were at incredible heights. I wish I could read and understand everything what he did  - but I know, my entire lifetime will not be enough for that. I have to learn, experience those steps he had made, I mean, sometimes I have to fail, but I should attempt to hit success finally, as he did. But still, I am aware that none of the other composers whom I’ve been in touch with as a professional musician, will have been known completely by me until I live. Yet, Bach for me is the „Alfa&Omega”, the father of music-making. He is the beginning and the one who makes me understand what may come after. It’s like the cleaning up the foggy glass…

 

·     Once you told in an interview that you think, „Bach has to speak”. May I ask what exactly you meant by this?  How can Bach, in your interpretation, communicate a story?

I think music "speaks" to you with its own special pronunciation by its vowels and consonants, that’s what you can hear. As for Bach Suits, they make  obviously a collection of dance movements, it’s evident. But the story to tell inside, is just that particular, related character play which I use by performing it.

The other side is for example the music of Shostakovich, Tsaikovszky, or Wagner who mostly used a strong dramatical, theatrical way of music making that ab ovo tells you a drama, a tragedy, a story in its special but very plain and inevitable language. They have painted the story while composing. But Bach „just” wrote the music and we, the musicians have to tell what we can read out of it… And that is actually the matter of interpretation which means much more than a mere reproduction of the scores in black-and-white you read on a paper. That’s our task, to make them live by adding our personality and through the filter of our spirit and character.     

                      

      

·         But in the capacity of a performer, this gives you an incredible freedom, yet, responsibility. Apparently You like to be free and independent, that is shown in your decision of stepping on the way of a „solitary artist”. No orchestra behind and conductor in front of You.

Yes, you are right. Indeed, I’ve left a well known brand-name ensemble (Dresden Staatskapelle). I was lucky to work with for example with Zubin Mehta and other highly appreciated conductors, took the lead-cellist position, had a well-founded job, super good salary, could live the life of the well-to-do. But in spite of all this… like many other people from the Y-Generation, which is my generation, I want to find my own way and I am in continuos search for this . This path is bumpy, and I face difficulties which many times are my own constraints. It seems, I have no residency any more, I sleep in hotel rooms, eat my meals on aeroplane boards and I can not speak about my private life. It’s not because it would be a sort of secret but because it doesn’t exist. But please… don’t belive that I am complaining, oh, no, for God’s sake! That was purely my own choice and it makes me happy because what really matters, really important for me is the music! "The Music" is all for me now and the quest for identifying myself in it.

Yes. This way is damned difficult but free!   

 

·         Once we are at this point: to what extent are you given freedom by playing Bach’s G-minor Suit Prelude? For, this is far the most popular and frequently played cello pieces in the world, the 95% of cello studenst have started to play cello just because of this prelude. Not talking about its popularity in any audience in any part of the world. Why is this such a favoured piece? And once if it is so popular, wouldn’t it mean certain dangers for the performer artist?      

Of course it does! Many! I could compare it to a pop song, it’s short enough, full of excitement with a happy end and most probably in Bach’s age it was also a big hit.  But yes, I agree, it’s a big challenge, since people have this piece in their ears and they are full of expectations to hear something in the concert halls which resembles, or even identical with what they’ve listened before on records by an other performer. But music never can be static, something which is engraved in stone walls, and exactly this is what I am excited by the most. This two-minute piece is not easy by technically either, but it can be practiced. But for me the real challenge is meant by its hundreds of dramas and colours that Bach has composed and perhaps felt in his work. Because with all this he is stimulating me to think it over and further again. And I still haven’t mentioned the so many questions which he had left open to us and which can lead us to polarization. I think, what is polarizing, artistically is worthwhile. I would like to find my own way to play a contemporary Bach and I feel my freedom in the master’s music.

No, Bach will not die, until music exists. Thank you for the opportunity that I could tell you all this, and thank you for listening. 

"Bach did not die" - Isang Enders interview

Dátum: 2015.02.01

Feladó: Janos A.

Tárgy: Isang Enders

I am a conductor-musician, and just congratulations to this young cellist!
i hope to see him again and he perhaps will be one of the greatest performers because of his individulal, strong carisma and abilities!
J.A.

Dátum: 2015.02.02

Feladó: Érzéki Korea

Tárgy: Re:Isang Enders

Master,
We really appreciate your comment, it is a big respect for our web-site. Although you don't know me - I am just of the many thousands of fans of you and your artistic performance - I am personally glad that You are in Hungary again, and I am looking forward to listening your concert at ZAK.
Thank you for your remark again,
Érzéki Korea

Dátum: 2015.02.01

Feladó: Betty

Tárgy: Isang Enders

Hi,
Im an opera singer and I had chance to listen to Isang Enders's performance in Leipzig. I even then enjoyed his virtuosity!
Iwas happy to hear him again in Budapest as a solist.
A big bravo Isang! Please, go, go! You have big perspectives!
Betty

Dátum: 2015.02.02

Feladó: Érzéki Korea

Tárgy: Re:Isang Enders

Dear Betty,
Thank you so much for your comment.
We wish you all the best and success in the operafield!
Sincerely,
Érzéki Korea

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