Principal Player Focus: Mark van de Wiel

London Sinfonietta Principal clarinettist, Mark van de Wiel

Over the coming months we’ll be profiling a selection of the London Sinfonietta Principal players, giving you the chance to learn a little more about the people you watch on stage at our concerts.  This month, Principal clarinettist Mark van de Wiel tells us about his favourite London Sinfonietta experience, what piece of music makes him smile, and what inspires him…

What was the first recording you bought?

I can’t remember that, but I can remember the first recordings I listened to as a child on LP’s belonging to my father, of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, and Mahler’s First Symphony.

What has been your favourite London Sinfonietta experience?

Our week in Sydney during January 2003 when we started out with lunch for the whole group at Doyle’s fish restaurant on Watsons Bay and played a wide range of repertoire in the Sydney Opera House over three concerts, was very special.  However, playing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time in the Italian Chapel on Orkney a few years ago was probably the most special of all. We played this very emotional piece twice, at 10 pm and then 11.15 pm, I think, emerging after midnight- and it was still daylight.  An amazing experience!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve been asked to do in a musical work?

To sing down the clarinet while its bell rested on top of a timpani, adjusting the angle of the bell and making fast pedal changes to the drum with my right foot, all at the same time, in Vinko Globokar’s Dedoublement.

What piece of music brings a smile to your face when you see it on your music stand?

Ligeti’s Piano Concerto. It’s very difficult, but great fun and exhilarating to play- and I know that my trying to negotiate the ocarina solo (which the clarinettist is required to play) will always amuse my colleagues….

Who or what inspires you?

My colleagues and my students.

What piece of new music changed you?

Ablauf, by Magnus Lindberg, for clarinet and two bass drums. It was the first piece I performed with extensive use of such techniques as multiphonics, quarter tones, and simultaneous singing and playing, and encouraged me to make this type of music a major part of my career.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

It would have to be myself. Nobody else would accept the part.

And finally, which London Sinfonietta concert are you most looking forward to in 2012?

In Portrait: Harrison Birtwistle, on 24 May, which contains so much great music, including Cortege, which was written for us, and the marvellous Five Distances for Five instruments, for wind quintet.

Mark van de Wiel’s next performance with the London Sinfonietta will be in Wolfgang Rihm at 60, on Tuesday 24 January.

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