Interview with Morgenstern Trio – part 1
A tortoiseshell cat, a pool of sunlight, a tangle of coffee-cups; the living-room where the Morgenstern Trio has been rehearsing in Germany’s Ruhr Valley has an atmosphere of cosy domesticity, and the group echos the mood. The harmony between the three young musicians is palpable, as are the flashes of pleasure they draw from each other’s observations.
The question of why they would name themselves for a German poet draws three different answers.
“He has been with me all my life, and I learned his poems at school,” explains cellist Emanuel Wehse. “In German the name has other meanings – it is also the morning star.”
Pianist Catherine Klipfel draws further parallels.
“I think it’s much more interesting to draw a name from a different art-form,” she says. “We always say music is a universal language, and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. But the language of a poet like Morgenstern, which is so original, with so much humour and fantasy, is a good connection.”
Stefan Hempel, violinist, sees the matter with more pragmatism.
“You know how the LaSalle Quartet found its name? The leader was in a telephone box and he was told that they needed a name for the quartet immediately. And he looked out at the next street sign. It was LaSalle Street, so he said, ‘Oh, let’s say the LaSalle Quartet!’ Of course there’s an idea behind our name, but after all I think what is more important is what we do and what we make, how we play, not what we are called as a trio.”
Their trip to Melbourne’s international chamber music in 2007, just two years after the trio had formed at Essen’s Folkwang Acadademy, was part of the series of competition wins that launched the trio on its international career. But it was more than that, the group says.
“Melbourne was a very beautiful time for us,” recalls Klipfel. “We were encouraged, and we really enjoyed being there.”
“We played in many competitions afterwards, but Melbourne stayed really special because of the way the artists were treated,” adds Wehse. “We felt very appreciated even before we played; we were treated as something valuable. That’s not normal in competitions.”
So the trio is delighted to have been invited back to Australia by Musica Viva.
“Now we get to see all of the country!” Klipfel enthuses. “That’s fantastic.”
© Shirley Apthorp