One of the most renowned contemporary solo clarinettists in his native France, Paul Meyer will celebrate his country’s proud classical music tradition in an intimate concert at Dubai Opera tonight.
Joined by compatriot and pianist Eric Le Sage, the duo will run through a programme of French favourites that include the works by classical composers Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Seans and Poulenc.
"While we are playing all the pieces of these French masters, we want to do it in a fresh way," he says. "It is like talking on a very important topic but in a relaxed way without any drama." In that spirit, a relaxed Meyer tells us the compositions and composers that are important to him.
A song that reminds me of my childhood String Quartet No 12 by Dvorak (1893)
I was eight or nine years old in Paris and what I remember about this piece was it was the first time I felt moved by a piece of music. It was a beautiful melody and the evocative feel of it touched me deeply, even then as a child. I also loved the sound of the strings and the general expression of the music. That piece was very important.
A song that made me want to perform Clarinet concerto by Mozart (1791)
By the age of nine I was beginning to really practise on the clarinet, and part of that is you listen to different kinds of pieces made for the instrument. But it was Mozart's concerto that really struck me because of what the instrument can do. It just sounded so beautiful, emotive and passionate that it convinced me that this instrument was for me. This piece has everything, there is the virtuosity, some slower movements and the overall construction of it is amazing.
A composer who changed my career Igor Stravinsky (1882 to 1971)
A lot of my influences came during my youth where it was all about research and discovery. Stravinsky was a discovery that really affected me. He really showed me the power an orchestra has. Stravinsky was also an example of how to write and compose in an intelligent way, and the example that comes to mind is The Rites of Spring (1913) and The Firebird (1910). Before Stravinsky, classical music was more about harmony and architecture of the composition. But he made it more modern – he was like Picasso in a way. After listening to Stravinsky I decided to not limit myself to romantic and baroque music, but to take a more modern direction also.
A song I wish I had written... anything by Mozart
This is a difficult question because I dedicate my life to performing the compositions of others. So from my perspective the composer at the top for me would be Mozart because of his range and what he achieved in classical music and opera – The Golden Flute, for example, is one of my all-time favourites. While I do listen to different composers and styles, Mozart is the number one for me.
A song that makes me cry
Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy (1890)
There are many reasons to cry. It's not just about being sad. It's about feeling something very deeply and this is how I feel about this piece by Debussy. There is a power to this music that immediately takes you to a different mood. If you take the time to sit down and relax then this piece will open up your ears, eyes and your soul. Even though the song is like five minutes, it has the ability to make you travel somewhere far away. Whenever I hear this piece I am moved by the beauty, the sense of peace and evocativeness.
Paul Meyer and Eric Le Sage will perform at Dubai Opera tonight at 8pm. For tickets,
go to www.dubaiopera.com