Gustavo Gimeno recuerda a Mariss Jansons
El director recuerda a Mariss Jansons tras su fallecimiento
Gustavo Gimeno dedica las siguientes palabras a quien fue su maestro, Mariss Jansons:
“Do you want a comfortable life or to be a musician?”
“So, tell me Gustavo! How is the orchestra? And how is the Schumann? Do they like to work? And how is the discipline? And then, tell me, I want to know…….” This is the way our last conversation started when we saw each other for the last time at the Musikverein and right after an acoustic rehearsal with his BR Symphonische Orchester.
Having a standard conversation with Mariss was often impossible…he would make lots of questions with maximum passion and curiosity, and sometimes that was even frustrating. It was me who actually wanted to ask him so many things and wanted to learn from him, but I felt often shy next to him, and in any case, he would always “shoot” first…and then you had little chance to change the direction of the conversation. But I loved it, seeing him in action, whether rehearsing, conducting a concert , meeting a soloist or simply having a conversation with someone, it was always fascinating! He always had very peculiar and very intelligent comments, questions and remarks.
But I am convinced, that such an interesting personality, so curious, humble , passionate and determinated made of him the artist who we know today, an artist in continuous development who would not only master the Russian classicsbut would as well excel performing Mahler in Amsterdam, Bruckner in Vienna or Strauss in Munich.
As a kid, even before I started studying music, I remember watching a concert (at that time in Spain it was rare to get a concert on TV by a foreign orchestra) which my father video recorded, and reading on screen “Leningrad Philharmonic”, “Mariss Jansons”, “The Rite of spring”. As often when you are a kid, you engrave some names and situations in your memory, and that was the case… I memorised the name of Mariss Jansons. I found his presence, his expression and his conducting absolutely magnetic. I loved looking at him. The last thing I (or my father) could imagine is that this young man I saw on the screen would have such an impact and influence in my life.
It was only 10 years later when I had the incredible chance to collaborate with the Concertgebouworkest during my study time for the first time in my life , and I couldn’t be happier, a dream come true. It was performing Shostakovich 7thwith Mariss Jansons conducting. I was going to meet him in person! I couldn’t take my eyes off him…His conducting was so elegant, his rehearsing so organised and detailed, his manners so extremely polite when addressing the players…but then the concert came, and I simply couldn’t believe that was the same person. He wasn’t exactly the same conductor I saw in the rehearsals…he irradiated such energy and passion , that even being far away from him I felt almost afraid…including feeling afraid of ruining how beautiful the orchestra was playing and somehow afraid of disappointing this man who I admired so much (even if he obviously hadn’t noticed me). The emotional content of his presence transmitted a very special energy which I had never experienced before, so I suddenly was confronted with emotions which I had to learn how to deal with…
That was one of the biggest qualities of Jansons, paradoxically , he controlled details in rehearsals at the extreme…when a hornist would be exactly breathing, how many centimetres would the door be open for the off-stage banda or which sticks would the bass drum player use…in the concert he apparently seemed to forget all those detailed comments and convert them into the deepest emotions.
Life brought us even closer when I became member of the Concertgebouworkest and he my Chief-Conductor. Having seen him in so many rehearsals and concerts represented some of the best music lessons I ever had and some of the most emotional moments of my life. It was very impressive to see day after day how interesting his rehearsals were and how it wouldn’t really matter where we were performing, he would never miss the chance to enjoy making music, to motivate and inspire everyone around him. And I realised my life was better with him around, demanding too (!), but wonderfully up-lifting.
He wouldn’t always be initially open and approachable, but once he opened himself to you, you were ‘family’ to him. One of the greatest gifts of my life was to work close to him as an assistant conductor, so I could feel his generosity and support. And to realise even more strongly how important music was for him, it was his life, his God…a very typical Mariss sentence, which very well defines his personality was: “What do you want, to have a comfortable life or to be a musician?“
He was a great human being, with an incredible inner world, including insecurities, doubts, and at times fragility… and he was not afraid of showing them or even to laugh about himself . All that made him even greater and more fascinating as an artist and as human being. There are and there will be other great conductors, but he was more than that, he was genuinely loved by everyone. Loved by musicians, orchestras , colleagues, and audiences all over the world. His honesty as musician would always move people in a very unique and profound way.
I am sure he will be at the same time very much missed and a great example and reference for generations to come.
Rest in peace