What is your personal history with these Vivaldi cello sonatas?
These sonatas literally belong to my DNA like no other repertoire. My mother, who was a very good amateur pianist, played them with a cellist friend even before I was born.
Later on, when I started playing the cello, the scores were already around as part of the furniture and the melodies were already in my head.
Jean-Guihen Queyras. Photo © Yoshinori Mido
These are exquisite works, but how would you compare them compositionally and emotionally to the baroque benchmark, i.e. Bach?
Bach reaches transcendence through the power of mind and architecture. Vivaldi invites us to [enjoy] a more sensorial experience, sometimes through very scarce but palpable material. In short, in my opinion, while Bach is universal, Vivaldi is Venetian. His music is anchored in the unique, overwhelming impressions that the City of the Doges leaves on its awed visitors: the masked shadows in the darkness, the labyrinths, the cold humidity of the winter, the fragility… I happen to have discovered Venice at age 11, just as I was starting to play the Vivaldi sonatas, experiencing these powerful and unforgettable sensations during an icy cold...