My philosophy ...
... about conducting
When people make music together there is always a tension between precision and spontaneity. Only with precision real interplay is possible, a rendition of a piece as a musical shape. Spontaneity gives each musician his personal character and renders each performance unique and alive.
This tension is nowhere greater then in opera: While it is already a challenge in orchestral literature to connect the various sounds and attacks of the instruments, in opera the difficulty is potentiated: You have singers joining in, soloists and choirs and bigger and constantly changing distances. As if that were not enough of a challenge for the ensemble/interplay opera demands much more spontaneity, which is here essential not only for the musical but also the dramatic development.
In musical praxis this leads to two extremes to deal with the problem: In the first the conductor holds the reigns and the singers pay always attention to him. Such performances are often very static and also lack emotions because the singers cannot fully immerse in their parts. In the second case the singers allow themselves to be carried away with their emotions while the conductor tries to rescue a certain degree of accuracy and musical shape.
As a conductor I am fascinated to try and find a way that the singers can express the spontaneity of their characters believably without leaving or distorting the musical from but to use their emotions to fill this form with beauty, depth and meaning. In the works of the great composers every rhythm, every interval and every harmony is a means to the aspired expression. If we as performers succeed in understanding each of those elements as a meaningful and potent tool toward the achieved expression and in translating it then we can find a kind of superior shared spontaneity. For as the liberties of the singers develop in reference to the musical form so relates the playing of the orchestra in every moment to the emotions on the stage.
... about accompaniment and coaching
Since I was a little boy I was fascinated about the complex connection between music and language. The latter allows the voice a unique plethora of timbres. Language and music engage in an exciting, magical relation. Both are composed of sound, rhythm, and accents. Therefore they can often intensify and enhance each other but they can also step into tension even contradiction.
They are like two strong personalities who can have a wonderful, productive relationship and who will always know that it will never be easy. Therefore it is equally important for a pianist who works with singers that he understands languages and poetry then that he can play the piano.
Each language has a different character, differing tonal and stylistic idiosyncrasies, difficulties and possibilities. Those are key not alone for the singer: Language and phrasing depend on each other and intertwine, in the piano as well as in the voice. If this succeeds we can create a unity, a third dimension of expression that pushes the boundaries of the lied and makes as feel the infinity of the poetical space.