Do you remember your own first encounter with Tristan und Isolde?

I don’t remember the year, but it was the summer that Daniel Barenboim asked me to join him in Bayreuth. He invited me to sit in the pit during a performance of the Heiner Müller production with Waltraud Meier and Siegfried Jerusalem singing.

Asher Fisch Asher Fisch. Photo © Nik Babic

He said just sit in the pit, don’t watch the production, listen to the music. So, I sat in the pit near the celli. It was a trip, because I could hardly hear the singers, but he was right: I understood what was going on in the orchestra.

What do you remember about hearing it in that way?

Mostly what I remember is the commitment of the players in Bayreuth. They were digging into every phrase and I understood that it was not something that you could hold back. This is something that an orchestra has to play all out – everybody has to go into it. So my memory is the power of the orchestral playing.

So, when did you first start to study it yourself for an actual performance?

The next thing I did...