<< -- 4 -- Bill Newman BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY
I cannot remember a recital that contained all three chamber works by
Zoltán Kodály, let alone featured three different cellists.
In a 'change of artists' event -- Heinrich Schiff was supposed to play, but
sent two of his pupils to take his place -- Claudio Bohrquez, who studied
under David Geringas, played the early Sonata with his mother Anna Maria
at the piano. As I listened, I thought that I had never known the piece
to possess such beauties, certainly not evident in the various versions
on disc. Claudio's autumnal sonorities caught the atmosphere quite beautifully,
whilst Anna Maria's eloquent tonal matchings and precise ensemble playing
were the perfect complement. On bounded Gautier Capuçon for the Solo
Sonata -- within ten seconds I knew this was going to be a very fine, even
the promise of a great performance, not because of his total command and
control but his knowledgeable pacing and grading of leading and answering
phrases that build so resplendently throughout. Staying in tune holds no
problems for this young man. Here are the makings of a Rostropovich, Starker,
Tortelier and Fournier.
Sister and brother Hanna and Bruno Weinmeister concluded with the Duo
for violin and cello Op 7, immensely exciting of its own accord, but quite
superb in this instance. Here again was music making of matching qualities.
Quite simply this was the outstanding chamber recital of the series.
'Lange Nacht' was the title for the evening event the same day, devoted
to music of South Korean composer Isang Yun, who died in Berlin in 1995,
aged 88, and the ever-popular Heinz Holliger. Yun had initial studies in
Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo, and went on to work in Paris, Berlin, the USA and
Japan. I am not familiar with his music, but there are obvious affinities
with Schoenberg, Bartók, Debussy and Stravinsky, covering a wide
spectrum of knowledge and styles that embrace variation form, colour symmetries
and rhythmic devices that become involved in his compositional techniques.
Quite often one hears defined swoops, slides and trills as part of Yun's
traditional oriental makeup, but the overall effect is much greater than
the sum of its parts, complex patterns which become the subject of intense
development often used to create lifelike images of quite startling effect,
like the first of Inventions for two oboes, that sounded to me like mayhem
in the hen house. The two protagonists -- Heinz Holliger and Lucas Macias
Navarro -- rattled off high tension statements so fearsomely fast that it
was a wonder they didn't run out of breath or lose rhythmic pulse.
Espace 1 was the expert vehicle for Muriel Cantoreggi's sweeping,
ardent playing, whilst cellist Bruno Weinmeister added further laurels to
his afternoon performance with Glissées and Königliches
Thema. Five Pieces for the piano -- Stefan Veselka, and Nore came
next, the half ending with East-West Variations by all parties, meticulous
to play and rewarding to listen to.
Holliger's compositions demand utmost concentration from performers,
yet like all true musicians he writes works to fulfil their gifts, which
also matches their personalities. Trema has versions for violin (Cantoreggi),
viola -- the supremely gifted and beautiful Genevieve Strosser, and cello
(Weinmeister). I was amazed how the tonal body of each instrument and the
interpretive skills of each performer imparted quite different meanings
to the same music, but close proximity here made obvious what is taken as
commonplace, listening to a wide gamut of performances weeks, months, or
years apart in concert halls the world over. Präludium, Arioso und
Passacaglia introduced me to the wonderful playing of harpist Sarah
O'Brien, and there was graceful duet playing by her and Navarro in Un
Bouquet de Pensées und Scherzinettino, joined by Strosser in
the Trio for oboe, viola and harp. Before the final piece -- Souvenirs
de Davos -- Holliger paid tribute to the artists in turn.
Copyright © 12 December 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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