Natalie Clein‘s exceptional musicality has earned her a number of prestigious prizes including the Classical Brit Award for Young British Performer, the Ingrid zu Solms Cultur Preis at the 2003 Kronberg Academie, and the BBC Young Musician of the Year aged just 16. Her playing is incredibly passionate. On the May 27th she brings her improvised accompaniment to the brilliant silent vampy flick The Temptress starring Greta Garbo as part of our Sound and Silents season. We caught up with her earlier this week.
We read you don’t much like things being confined to boxes – how would you describe the music that you make according to your own ideas/terms?
I think boxes are a pity both for those who make them and those who are put in them! I have practised the cello since I was 8 years old in order to become as skilled as possible (and still feel I have much more I want to improve) and I am now at the stage where I can use this skill in many exciting ways – not only playing the great pieces of the last three hundred years – but also in newly written pieces (some written specifically for me) and in improvising – as I’ll be doing on the 27 th!
You are a fan of taking music out of concert halls and into more unconventional places… Do you have a dream of playing in a particular venue or to a particular audience?
I think the most important quality to have at a venue and with an audience is concentrated silence, as a canvas for the music – everything else is open to experimentation!
What do you think an audience can get out of hearing a piece of music performed
alongside visual work that they wouldn’t if they were hearing the music on its own?
In the case of film, music is of course the great manipulator. This adds a completely new and challenging dimension when improvising live because not only are you reacting to the flow of the moment but you have to stick closely to what you are watching. It’s a challenge – but last time was so much fun I’ve come back for more!
At Birds Eye View we recognise that there remains huge disparity between the experiences of men and women in film industry. Do you feel that women have a different experience than men in the music world? If yes, what actions would you like to see taken towards helping musicians and composers who may not be as successful as their male counterparts purely because they are women?
I think the gap in the music world that I have encountered is much smaller and the problems that do arise, for me, reflect a wider confusion about strong women in society in general rather than a specific problem in the music world. As an instrumentalist I feel lucky to work in an environment where skill comes first and earns respect – other businesses could learn from us! I do however see that there are still more male than female composers in the public eye, although there are some big talents in female form on their way up to the top as we speak! If they are branded, as women authors often are, as a minority group I think it’s something to be discussed but then moved beyond; the quality of the work speaks for itself.
If you could remove the dialogue from any film and replace it with music which would it be?
Jaws- making the poor old shark the goody for a change with a nice expressive solo cello theme.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Many! They include a tour through South America in July playing Elgar and Schumann concertos, chamber music festivals and recitals, through the Summer, teaching, commissioning new cello pieces and finalising a programme combining solo cello and Ted Hughes poetry (I won’t be reciting it in case people were concerned.) I’m also about to release a CD with Hyperion of Kodaly cello works including the famous solo sonata and will be performing the sonata in the Autumn around the UK and beyond…