Saturday, February 25, 2017
The head of the German Cultural Council, Olaf Zimmermann, has said that artists’ freedom of movement will be impaired by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He specified three key areas of damage. If EU artists will need a visa to live in London, that will inhibit cultural exchanges. Collaborations between museums, arts centres and theatres will suffer. And once the UK is no longer part of the European Union, the withdrawal of EU funding programs will kill off many joint projects in the future. If these predictions are fulfilled, London will return to pre-War provincialism.
Shutting the file on his recent erotic turbulence, the German violinist has been awarded the Frankfurter Musikpreis for 2017, a gift worth 15,000 Euros. The prize is cross-generic, as you can see from the winners below. It has consistently bypassed the leading German violinists – Mutter, Faust, Fischer, Tetzlaff, Zimmermann. Maybe they don’t like the violin much in Frankfurt. Past winners: 2017 David Garrett, Violinist 2016 Al Jarreau, Sänger und Songautor 2015 Peter Sadlo, Schlagzeuger 2014 Ernie Watts, Saxophonist 2013 Marie-Luise Neunecker, Hornistin und Instrumentalpädagogin 2012 John McLaughlin, Gitarrist und Komponist 2011 Anne Sofie von Otter, Mezzo-Sopranistin 2010 Keith Emerson, Keyboarder und Komponist 2009 Dr. José Antonio Abreu, Dirigent, Komponist und Mentor 2008 Paquito D’Rivera, Saxophonist, Klarinettist, Komponist 2007 Peter Eötvös, Dirigent, Komponist und Lehrer 2006 Peter Gabriel, Pop-/Rockmusiker 2005 György Ligeti, Komponist 2004 Udo Lindenberg, Deutsch-Rocker und Pop-Dichter 2003 Walter Levin, Violinist 2002 – 2001 Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Sänger 2000 Klaus Doldinger, Saxophonist 1999 Michael Gielen, Dirigent und Komponist 1998 Peter Herbolzheimer, Arrangeur/Interpret/Komponist 1997 Hans Zender, Komponist und Dirigent 1996 Wolfgang Niedecken, Sänger und Songwriter 1995 Tabea Zimmermann, Bratscherin 1994 Brian Eno, Musiker und Klangkünstler 1993 Harry Kupfer, Regisseur 1992 Georg Solti, Dirigent 1991 Aribert Reiman, Komponist 1990 Chick Corea, Jazz-Pianist 1989 Ludwig Güttler, Trompeter 1988 Heinz Holliger, Oboist 1987 Carl Dahlhaus, Musikwissenschaftler 1986 Albert Mangelsdorff, Jazz-Posaunist 1985 Brigitte Fassbaender, Kammersängerin 1984 Alfred Brendel, Pianist 1983 Edgar Krapp, Organist 1982 Gidon Kremer, Geiger
Nicolas Hodges (Wergo)Discs of Walter Zimmermann’s works seem to come along every few years, providing reminders of what a quietly singular and enigmatic figure in contemporary European music he is. Nicolas Hodges’ collection covers Zimmermann’s most recent piano pieces, all composed between 2001 and 2006. There are six works here, but easily the most substantial is Voces Abandonadas, a two-part cycle lasting almost 40 minutes that was inspired by the writings of the Italian-born Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia (1885-1968). Porchia’s aphorisms circulated widely in Argentina during the years of military dictatorship and were eventually published in Spain in 1982 as Voces Abandonadas. Zimmermann made sound representations of each of them, and these musical “sentences” – 514 altogether, rarely more than one bar long and composed, diary-like, over the course of a year – follow one another without breaks, sometimes resulting in stark contrasts of mood and style. The dedicatees of the two parts of Voces Abandonadas are Helmut Lachenmann and Morton Feldman, perhaps defining the twin poles of Zimmermann’s music, yet the music never remotely echoes either composer. Though he has always distanced himself from the serialism of the 1945 postwar avant garde, this terse music seems to hark back most of all to the world of Stockhausen’s early piano pieces of the 50s, which Stockhausen referred to as his “drawings”. Despite its multi-layered allusiveness, Zimmermann’s compendium has a similar kind of monochrome spareness. Continue reading...
Das Eröffnungskonzert der Elbphilharmonie, the opening concert of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The building looms like a giant ship on a promontory on the harbour: a reminder of Hamburg's maritime and commercial heritage. The lower floors match surrounding buildings, while the upper floors and roof reflect the skie : an inspired concept in architectural terms. But what really makes the Elbphilharmonie interesting is that it's a game changer in many ways, with the potential to transform the whole way the European music business operates. "Freude" said the grandees making speeches, which is significant, for great art is inspired by joy, not small=minded negativity. The creative genius of Beethoven stood at the start and finish of this communal celebration, with the Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus op 43 and the sublime Symphony no 9. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods to empower men, an act which symbolizes enlightenment. That's why the arts matter. They generate creativity and, with that, the enthusiasm that generates change in many things, including economic regeneration. This new hall is a landmark that could challenge the dominance of Berlin and Paris. Not for nothing, the concert honoured Johannes Brahms, Hamburg's native son, who lived in Vienna, but remained, at heart, solidly North German. In Britain, we've no way to compete, since British arts policy favours micro-endeavour. The fact is, excellence needs vision, and commitment. The long-term benefits to the nation are infinitely greater than can be measured in simple terms. The drive that went into making Hamburg the major port that it is, is the kind of drive we need in the arts. Thomas Hengelbrock and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester chose a programme that demonstrated what the new building can do. The platform, larger than usual, nestles surrounded by different tiers of seating, rather like Berlin and Paris, so sound resonates more evenly than in conventional coffin-shaped halls. Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Photoptosis (1968) tested the acoustic to the limit. Scored for a very large orchestra, the piece can be very loud indeed, but here what struck me most was the richness of sound, not the volume. The big climaxes are carefully constructed, with myriad layers of detail, some so subtle they can get lost. Yet in this hall, even the most refined components can be heard and relished. Suddenly, the hall was plunged into darkness, small rows of lights shining from the dense gloom like stars. The plangent strains of a Praetorius motet rang out, as if being heard across the centuries. In a split second, the 16th and the 20th century connected. Also, from an eyrie above the platform, the orchestra's principal oboe played Pan, from Britten's Six Metamorphoses from Ovid op 49. Philippe Jaroussky sang Italian baroque airs, accompanied by harp, from a position above the stage, the clear, pure beauty of his voice carrying effortlessly round the large auditorium., In one of the interval clips, he's seen testing the acoustic by exploring with his voice as he walks around. Then, Messiaen and Wagner, sounding clear and crisp. What a joy it must be for an orchestra to play in these surroundings, especially as the off-stage facilities are luxe class compared to many less generous venues. The best orchestras will now want to visit Hamburg: this superb acoustic will lift the game for everyone. Read more HERE about the technical aspects that make the acoustics in the auditorium. For this grand opening gala, the whole Philharmonie building exterior became the backdrop for a spectacular light show. This, too, made a statement, since the light show would have been visible across the harbour. The Elbphilharmonie light show could become a feature of Hamburg's civic life, just like the way Hong Kong skyscrapers become a gigantic canvas for illuminations during the Christmas season (where the flat outside wall of the main local concert hall is the focus of a light show) The arts aren't just for toffs. Involving the wider community outside the concert hall is a form of outreach and education without distracting from the main business of music making. Indeed, excellence "is" education. It opens up ears and minds. This programme also featured Wolfgang Rihm, billed as"Germany's greatest living composer", though he couldn't attend so Hengelbrock raised a placard with Rihm's name on it , a nice humorous touch. Rihm, Zimmermann and Rolf Liebermann, together with Mendelssohn and Brahms, Wagner and Beethoven: another point being made, that audiences can cope with diversity without having to be coddled. There are other halls in the new Philharmonie, better suited to smaller ensembles and chamber music. There's another concert on Sunday which will also be broadcast. Click on photo at right to see the building in cross-section. Yet another reason why the Elbphilharmonie is a game changer : It represents a new way of bringing music to audiences. HD was a start, but stymied because it depended on cinema distributors who didn't make enough money to promote it. But modern technology means that audiences can listen any time they want online, wherever they may be. Investing in orchestra-led, or opera-house led streaming means that those who make music get the full benefits of marketing, and also have greater control over artistic content. Can record companies still control the market and create instant media darlings when there's good music around for those who care about quality as opposed to celebrity No more provincial boundaries. And so the concert ended with the Ode to Joy, Beethoven 9, Bryn Terfel, Pavol Breslik, Wiebke Lehmkuhl, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, the NDR Choir and the Choir of Bayerischen Rundfunks. "Alle Menschen wurden Bruder"!" we've heard that thousands of times, but this time it felt fresh and real.
Both Tabea Zimmermann, violist, and Frank Peter Zimmermann, violinist, appear on this recording together. And what is also great is that the group performs the two amazing Quartets for piano and strings by Mozart. Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K478 Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, K493 Performed by Christian Zacharias, piano, Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin, Tabea Zimmermann, viola, and Tilmann Wick, cello. Just listen to the wonderful music, the Quartet K493 by Mozart:
Recently, before going to sleep, I have been listening to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, as performed by Frank Peter Zimmerman. On the CD of the Month for January 2017, the same violinist plays for you music by Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99 Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129 Performed by Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Alan Gilbert conducting. Composed almost 20 years apart, the two violin concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich were both conceived with the great violinist David Oistrakh in mind and dedicated to him. Shostakovich completed Concerto No. 1 in 1948, at a time when he had fallen out of grace with the Soviet authorities and it seemed uncertain if the work would ever be performed in public. This is reflected in the concerto which begins with a dark and solitary violin song over gloomy cellos and double basses. Throughout the work there are allusions to the composer’s situation, such as the D-S-C-H motif that appears in so many of his works and which in the second movement is closely related to a theme reminiscent of Jewish popular music, as a symbol of Shostakovich’s identification with the sup¬pressed Jewish culture. In the same movement there is also a theme derived from the opera Lady Macbeth of Mstsensk which in 1936 had caused the composer’s first denunciation by the Soviet regime. In 1967 Shostakovich wrote to Oistrakh, telling him about the completion of his Violin Concerto No. 2. The composer’s health had been failing for several years, and only the year before he had suffered a heart attack. In several of his late works there is a preoccupation with mortality, and the concerto exhibits a similar dark, introspective tone, especially in the central Adagio. Performing these two great works of the mid-20th century is one of the finest violinists of our own time, Frank Peter Zimmermann. The recordings were made at public concerts at the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, with the eminent support of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester – formerly known as the NDR Sinfonieorchester – conducted by Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s principal guest conductor for more than a decade. Here is Mr. Zimmermann in the Concerto number 2 by Shostakovich: