Raphaël Feye, cellist & conductor

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

At 8 years old, the sound of the cello.

At 14, the Schubert C-major Quintet.

At 25, the Shostakovich complete String Quartet cycle played by the Danel Quartet.

In the orchestral world, Harnoncourt, Norrington, Herreweghe are my heroes.

I had all the recordings of Pieter Wispelwey as a teenager. I was listening to them all the time and when we decided to record Weinberg with him, it was a childhood’s dream come true.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Playing a contemporary piece by Lachenmann in a windy and rainy open air concert with a tuba rehearsing next door!

More seriously, string quartet playing is by far the most difficult challenge as we have to manage personalities. It creates an intimate space that can be very tricky and needs to be handled very carefully.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I haven’t recorded very much yet, so I must admit that ‘Lignes parallèles’ Haydn-Lipatti-Mozart with pianist Julien Libeer and the current Weinberg recording have been the most important so far.

Working with artists as inspiring as violinists Malin Broman, Elina Buksha, pianists Pavel Kolesnikov and Aleksandar Madzar is unforgettable.

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

Difficult question…Haydn, Schumann, Shostakovich.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

Reading poetry, walking through city streets wherever I am performing, doing yoga.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Trying to match history with the present times by choosing pieces that are striking and comforting

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Concertgebouw Brugge: great acoustics, great team.

Barcelona: Palau de la Musica: for the beauty and colours of the Art Nouveau architecture.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

I would say that classical musicians could speak and improvise more if they feel to do so. Musicians and concert halls could collaborate more with classical musicians from other traditions (African, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Turkish to name but a few).

What is your most memorable concert experience?

During a performance of Don Giovanni I was conducting in the State Opera Bourgas, when – just before La ci darem la mano – Don Giovanni proposed to Zerlina!

It was such an unexpected moment. What a brilliant idea he had!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Bringing people to discover classical music or live performances. When it happens and especially if it was a touching experience for these people, our work gains so much meaning!

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

Play as many concerts as you can, everywhere, every week. That’s the only way to get a relaxed feeling on stage on any circumstances.

What’s the one thing in the music industry we’re not talking about which you think we should be?

The positive medical impact of music on the brain and the social impact of sharing music in a concert hall altogether

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Speech is silver, silence is golden

A new recording of music by Mieczysław Weinberg is released on 8 April on the Evil Penguin Classic label, featuring Pieter Wispelwey and Les Metamorphoses with Raphaël Feye. Find out more

Raphaël Feye, cellist, is the conductor of the ensemble “les Métamorphoses”.