Latvian Harpsichordist Ieva Salieta: Our vision is stronger than the matter under our fingers

Take note – story published 4 years ago

As part of a program on Latvian Radio, the music journalist Orests Silabriedis met with the harpsichordist, pianist, and the recipient of the “Grand Latvian music Award 2017” Ieva Saliete. Their meetings took place first in her hometown Pocelujevka, Latvia, and then in the German National Museum, Nuremberg, which houses a collection of some of the world's most precious keyboard instruments.

The museum's unique collection consists of instruments dating from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century.

What is the difference between Italian and Dutch harpsichords? How do you approach a keyboard instrument? Which instruments did Mozart prefer, and which did Beethoven? And what keyboard instrument did Dorothea the last duchess of Courland (Kurzeme) sit down to play?

How does a tetratonic scale sound like, and do the piano pieces of the passionate Rīga genius Johann Gottfried Müthel's sound better played on the harpsichord or the piano? To find an answer to all of these questions, one has only to listen...

IframeIeva Saliete says: “Last January, I had a concert with an ancient music ensemble here at the German National Museum, Nuremberg, in the hall, of course, not the cellar. I was very honored. Although I was slightly disappointed when I saw that, on the stage of this beautiful museum, a very plain “Neupert” harpsichord was waiting for me. I was expecting to get to play one of these originals, but – oh well... I realized that I had to practice a bit, because every harpsichord is a completely different world.”

“And then the director of the department Georg Ots mentioned that he had a few more interesting instruments in the cellar and said I could go and look at them,” Saliete reminisces. “I knew that there were remarkable instruments there, but no one was allowed to play them. The moment I was told I could play them, I understood that I am not going back upstairs... I don't want to waste my time, if I can play any of these!”

Ieva Saliete says that she practiced for the concert on an instrument dating back from 1782.

“I realized that the concert wasn't that important to me, even though it was to be aired on Bavarian Radio... In the end, after the whole day spent in the cellar, I went and played the “Neupert”, and I played it as if it were a historic instrument, and it struck me that our vision is stronger than the matter under our fingers.

Playing with the old instrument in mind, the “Neupert” sounded completely different! I should mention that “Neupert” was one of the first companies to start manufacturing musical instruments based on old, authentic examples. Now we are 20, 30 or even 40 years away from that, and our instruments are a lot more sensitive than the ones made in the 80's,” said Saliete.

The harpsichordist Ieva Saliete lives in Latvia and often performs with the “Sinfonietta Rīga” orchestra in various baroque projects. She has also played solo performances and been part of chamber orchestras in Germany and Switzerland, and is the harpsichordist in the "Les Passions de l’Ame" orchestra. 

Currently, Saliete is drawn to the composer Johann Gottfried Müthel's, who in his time resided in Rīga, and has been performing his work with the "Kesselberg Ensemble" in Latvia, Germany, and Switzerland

Saliete was a lecturer at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. She was part of the Freiburg Chamber Orchestra, "Ensemble 415", the Basel Chamber Orchestra. She is the recipient of the “Grand Latvian Music Award 2017” for “Best Performance in an Ensemble”. She has also played on recordings made for such labels as "Deutsche Harmonia Mundi" and "Sony", and has received the "Diapason d’Or" for two recordings.

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