Exclusive interview: Martin Feinstein discusses Southbank Centre’s Bach Weekend 2012

What are you particularly looking forward to about playing The Bach Weekend at Southbank Centre next year?

The Bach Weekend is always very exciting for us, and at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday 24 March we’re performing the Magnficat, the Easter Oratorio and the Trauer Ode. The Trauer Ode contains some of Bach’s most beautiful music – it uses orchestration of such exquisite beauty. It is truly sublime. So the Magnificat is a kind of antidote to that… The Trauer Ode is quite dark but the Magnificat is bright and sparkly with trumpets and timps – another kind of wonderful orchestration.

We’re forming a partnership with the London Bach Singers – they are our sister group and we really enjoy performing with them. Working together we feel very much like we’re a family. We try to make the Weekend as rich and varied as possible, and invite lots of soloists to join us. This is our fifth Bach Weekend, and we want eventually to leave no stone left unturned – we want to play everything in the end. So we’re very excited about moving a little further towards that goal this year!

And you are going to talk at the Bach Weekend about the piece that you think is the most important work in the flute repertoire, the Flute Sonata in B minor, BWV.1030. Why that piece?

This transcends almost anything else Bach wrote. The first movement is a monumental, symphonic, extraordinary thing, a thing so wonderful that other instruments keep wanting to steal it! Which is quite unusual for flute repertoire. So when we perform it at Southbank, hopefully we’ll be able to convey some of that magic…

Do you find it challenging to bring a new perspective to music as well-known as, say, the Brandenberg concertos?

Yes – I don’t intentionally try to be different but doing the Brandenbergs here at Southbank Centre was a particularly memorable concert for me because we played on instruments specially made for the concert, pitched at 392. This pitch is even lower than a normal Baroque pitch, and is the pitch Bach probably intended them to be played at – the sonorities are completely different and it was very exciting to hear that. The recorder at that pitch gives a real honking, juicy sound.

You’ve performed at Southbank Centre lots of times – has there been a particular performance here that was very special to you?

When you play in Queen Elizabeth Hall you feel as if every note can be heard, which is extremely exciting. A concert I remember with great fondness is our performance of the B minor mass in March this year, which is so stunning – it is a huge edifice of a work with not a spare bit of gristle on it. So I am very much looking forward to getting the same kind of thrill from the repertoire we’re performing at this year’s Bach Weekend.