German violinist Julia Fischer knows that marketing is part of the price to stay at the top of the competitive world of violin soloists, but she was having no part of a photo shoot she said had made her look like a drug addict.
"I once did a photo shoot ... where I didn't release a single picture afterwards because I didn't see myself anywhere," the 30-year-old mother of two told Reuters in an interview after a concert this week at the annual Beethoven Festival in Bonn.
"I looked like a drug addict on every picture and I think it's kind of impressive to manage to do that with me," Fischer said, adding that since becoming a mother she looks at the image she projects on her CD covers and publicity photos "differently than I did five or six years ago".
The label that keeps being pinned on Fischer is that of "perfectionist" but she says she would never use it herself.
"I've never called myself that way, I'm not a perfectionist," she said. "What I want is to play the very best that night, I don't want the performance to be perfect. That's a strange word for music anyway."
Here is what else she had to say about why leading a chamber orchestra helps her as a soloist, her enthusiasm for Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto, and why she does not like modern composers who treat soloists "like a computer":
Q: You normally appear as a soloist with big orchestras and with a conductor, but here you are playing with a chamber orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, that essentially conducts itself. How does that work for you?
A: It gives me the musical experience to deal with an orchestra, to see how it functions. Also ... when you have a small group like this you don't have to lead if what you do musically is clear ... If somebody plays a theme and the theme is musically convincing then automatically you know where he or she is going, you will automatically understand what to do.
Q: The bulk of your CDs are of the baroque, classical or romantic repertoire, with only a few forays into modern music. However, you gave the premiere of a new Violin Concerto by Matthias Pintscher and got rave reviews for your performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto this year in Vienna. Why do those pieces work for you?
A: Matthias Pintscher wrote the Violin Concerto for me, for a premiere in 2011 ... and I played Salonen's Violin Concerto this year, it's phenomenal. I felt as comfortable on stage as when I play a Beethoven concerto ... It's not written intellectually, it's written emotionally.
Q: You also find that some modern composers don't trust the musicians, but how does that show itself?
A: I have this theory that all these composers starting with Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn were all very good musicians performing music of other people. They were not exclusively composers, they were interpreters as well and today we have a lot of composers who are only composers and what comes with that is a distrust for the interpreter. They put on every note eight different ways of how I'm supposed to play these notes ... I just don't need that because then I feel like a computer.