Interview: Richard Tognetti and Satu Vänskä Return to Café Carlyle This Week

The chamber music superstar's residency runs from tonight to April 20th

By: Apr. 16, 2024
Interview: Richard Tognetti and Satu Vänskä Return to Café Carlyle This Week
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Charismatic Australian violinist Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the acclaimed Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), will make his much-anticipated return to New York’s Café Carlyle for a five-night residency starting tonight. It will run from April 16 to 20, 2024. Tickets are available on Tock.

Tognetti is internationally renowned for his compelling performances and artistic individualism. In addition to performing as a director and soloist with orchestras around the world, he has been Artistic Director of the ACO for over three decades, during which time the Orchestra has developed a reputation as the world’s greatest chamber orchestra, famed for distinctive and adventurous programming and high-octane virtuosity. 

Tognetti will be performing with three ACO musicians – Principal Violin Satu Vänskä, violist Elizabeth Woolnough and cellist Eliza Sdraulig – to perform “an intrepid selection of music that moves from JS Bach to Nick Drake. The quartet will also celebrate the beguilingly subversive songs of the Weimar Republic – the all-too-brief golden era of artistic and musical liberation in 1920s Berlin before its suppression by the Nazis – with Vänskä switching out her precious Stradivarius violin to sing the sultry tunes of musicians including Kurt Weill and Friedrich Hollaender.”

I spoke with Tognetti and Vänskä about the upcoming show.

How do you feel about your upcoming residency at Café Carlyle?

A spring residency at the Café Carlyle in New York City has a certain delectable ring to it, so we’re delighted and excited to be back where our experience in this uniquely intimate venue was so special exactly a year ago. It gives us great pleasure being able to present our music in a setting that encourages experimentation with different styles of music that are close to our hearts. 

You’re playing a very wide range of music at the show. How would you describe your personal taste in music?

Our tastes range far and wide. Spotify algorithms might be a little discombobulated due to our choices -it could be a recording of the Threepenny Opera with Lotte Lenya; across to John Luther Adams; sailing onto Beethoven piano sonatas with Wilhelm Kempff; astral traveling with Miles Davis, Gil or Bill Evans and through to electronica and beyond. 

Is there a particular theme you were thinking of when you chose the songs for your set list for this show? How did that come together?

In our musical laboratory, the sound world of the Weimar era (pre-WW2) has become an integral part of our repertoire since our show Weimar with the late, great Barry Humphries and Meow Meow in Australia, London and USA in 2013. We delight in fusing the heady music and songs of this era, as there’s a certain wild liberation from the impending dangers of world events that drives these sounds - they resonate with the same power now as they did back then. We also synergise Nick Drake’s timeless, heart-aching melancholy with Bach - Drake’s favourite composer.

What have you been listening to lately?  

We have been listening to John Luther Adams’ music (who’s writing a piece for us); Morton Feldman is a staple; also there is a lot of jazz on our playlists - on high rotation is the Polish trumpeter, Tomasz Stanko, a performer who should not be forgotten. 

What’s coming up next for you?

Mahler’s Das Lied von Der Erde in the Schoenberg arrangement is imminent. Our next call to the States is in October with Oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros.

Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).

For more information and updates on these exciting events, follow Café Carlyle on Instagram @cafecarlyle and Facebook.


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