We launched our series, entitled “Quarantine Minutes,” so as not to lose touch with one another even during these difficult times. We spoke with our musicians to hear how they’re dealing with their new circumstances in light of the coronavirus epidemic. How have their lives changed? Are they able to find anything positive in their situation? What music do they recommend for you? How have they transformed their ways of making music? This time, we hope you enjoy hearing from violinist Erika Illési and double bass player Zsolt Fejérvári, in an interview duet.
What music would you recommend for our audiences while they are isolated at home? What do you listen to and what do you like to play to improve your mood?
Erika: I recommend Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, performed by Gould; I always find listening to it a healing experience. While I cook, my favorite is Natalie Cole’s Spanish album.
Zsolt: Why not take the BFO’s Mahler series off the shelf? Listen to the 3rd movement of Symphony No. 4; towards the end, Mahler’s vision reveals an entirely new dimension. While I tidy my home and arrange my sheet music, my favorite music to listen to is Oscar Peterson and Nils Henning Pedersen’s amazing jazz trio recordings.
What do you do in the time you otherwise would have spent with the orchestra? Who do you make music with at home, and how?
Erika: I keep to a strict schedule: I practice the same way I would for the orchestra’s rehearsal weeks, although I now have time, of course, to learn more solo and chamber music pieces. Our house is filled with the sounds of the violin, the viola and the double bass.
Zsolt: Although the literature of chamber music for violin and double bass is not the richest, I will treasure the memory of how, a few weeks ago, we performed Piazzolla’s two tangos for one of the BFO Quarantine Soirées.
Have you learned anything new during the quarantine? Have you perhaps picked up any new habits?
Erika: I never would have thought that some day I would be happy over how computers are gaining ground in our lives, but online teaching and online exercise classes are terrific opportunities in these weeks.
Zsolt: Last week I finally made good on a promise that had been outstanding for years: I finally managed to organize my sheet music collection. I was overjoyed when I came across music which I had long forgotten about, and which I want to learn in the future, such as György Orbán’s piece for soprano voice and double bass, or Sándor Jemnitz’s Solo Sonata.
What do you miss the most right now?
Zsolt: Living in a single-family house, we do not feel ourselves to be in forced isolation very much: we play a lot of ping-pong, we bicycle, we garden; at the same time, I do miss seeing our parents and friends very much.
What do you like about the quarantine?
Zsolt: We listen to a lot more music; our music room is regularly filled with the sounds of the amazing concert videos available online. Most recently, at the request of my son, Bence, we watched Debussy’s “La mer,” performed by the Berlin Philharmonic.
Erika: I can finally spend more time with my daughter, now a university student. We can explore the niceties of running a household, and we learn about each other as well as from each other.
Is there anything in your life you never had time for before, but always wanted to do - and now you’ve been able to try?
Zsolt: There are so many fantastic master courses on the internet: I can finally make time for these now! As a double bass player, I also learn a great deal from watching videos of courses by Vengerov, András Schiff, Rostropovich or Kavakos. I also have more time for reading; right now I’m concurrently reading a short novel by Thomas Bernhard and a biography of Carlos Kleiber.
Erika: With everyone home now, we really can practice acceptance, something we talk about so often, along with respect for others’ needs; we can also learn to be assertive