Interview with Norwegian Radio Orchestra’s principle violist Nora Taksdal

NativeDSD talked to Nora Taksdal, principal violist at the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, about their latest release of Mozarts’s Symphonies 39/40.

Taksdal helped found the Vertavo quartet where she played for ten years. She has been permanently employed as solo violist in both the Bergen and Oslo Philharmonic, and since 2006 has been group leader in the Kringkastingsorkestret. She also has a background in the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and several contemporary music ensembles. Taksdal has a varied background from home and abroad as a soloist, chamber musician, improviser (in collaboration with musicians such as Ketil Bjørnstad, Bugge Wesseltoft and Sinikka Langeland), music mediator and pedagogue. She has made a number of radio programs for NRK P2. Taksdal has taught at the University of Oslo, the Grieg Academy in Bergen, the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Barratt-Due Institute of Music. Her heart children are the lively music students at Majorstuen school.

Does Mozart and/or his Symphonies 39/40 have special ‘meaning’ for you and why?

Mozart’s music constitutes for me the true sound of all shades of the human mind – and the joy, beauty, comfort and reconciliation the imagination of a genius can give the rest of us. His last three symphonies made out the first repertoire I was lucky enough to play with conductor Iona Brown in the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. Her detailed, in-depth interpretation, and persistent emphasis on listening to, and spontaneously «conversing» with, our co-musicians, remain in the body to this day. She dwelt especially on the important role of the double bass players and often heard them alone so that the rest of us could learn. “I’d die to play the double bass!”, she said – “or rather, I’d KILL!”

Petr Popelka is himself a God-given double bassist, most alive! It was liberating to play Mozart in his safely anchored, but airy, playful and spontaneous interpretation, 35 years after Iona Brown’s. “He appears like a born Viennese!”, we violists agreed. A few months later, the news came that Popelka will take over as chief conductor for the Wiener Symphoniker. Norwegian “trolls in words” as we call it when words come true. Let us hope Mozart´s music on this album comes true as well.

Do these pieces require a special approach & why?

Mozart himself dreamed of being reborn as a dancer! Rhythmic gestures and swing, humour, pun of words and notes, and the view upon life as an eternal theatre, characterize all his music. The speaking motives must sing, and the singing must speak. The contrasts between weight and lightness, and between sadness and joy, should happen in a hair’s breadth of a moment, or be clearly displayed when they run in parallel. Music was a common «mother tongue» in Mozart’s time. For us string players, it is crucial to use the bow as a nuanced “organ of speech”, and only to colour lightly with the left hand.

Do you have any particular favorite moment in either of the symphonies?

During the recording session, in the middle of the divine Andante movement from Symphony No. 40, a lower string player´s stomach began to rumble loudly. Resulting in marvelous sounds that even Mozart could not have contrived. It will be interesting to hear if LAWO’s microphones are sublime enough to have picked up this soundscape.

Jeg håper du liker å lytte til denne innspillingen!

— Hilsen, Nora

Written by

Jonas Sacks

Jonas is co-Founder & CTO at NativeDSD but also for hire as a Cinematographer. His work can be seen at He plays the trumpet.


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