“A magically iridescent poem of changing colours, melodies and counterpoints”
Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich in the liner notes.
This insightful recording of Franz Schubert’s music is also a first documentation of the musical alliance between violinist Carolin Widmann and pianist Alexander Lonquich, which has been gathering momentum over the last four years. They first came together to play Messiaen in Salzburg in 2008. The following year a Lonquich solo recital in Rome convinced Widmann that they should collaborate on Schubert’s music for violin and piano.
In this album, recorded at Historic concert hall Reitstadl Neumarkt, the duo plays the C-Major fantasy of 1827 and the Violin Sonata in A of 1817, as well as the B minor Rondo of 1826. If the influence of Beethoven is still marked in the 1817 sonata, the 1826 and 1827 pieces remain striking in their originality. Written at the request of Viennese virtuosi Josef Slawik and Karl Maria von Bocklet, they are pieces that transcend ‘mere’ virtuosity. Lonquich describes them as “paradoxical”, compositions conceived as technical which nonetheless feel “thoroughly metaphysical”: “Schubert is music’s great Wanderer. He goes through highs and lows and subtle harmonic progressions. He’s invariably spoken of as the great writer of melodies, yet there is always extraordinary harmonic tension at work as well.”
Carolin Widmann: “There is ambivalence in Schubert: pain and beauty expressed with the same intensity. I can hear the Austrian countryside in his music when I’m playing and at the same time this feeling of reaching for the heavens. Great art is made out of this combination of rootedness and transcendence…”
Widmann and Lonquich’s empathetic reading casts aside conventions of violin and accompaniment, responding instead to the changing needs of Schubert’s music. Lonquich: “Through the insistence of Schubert’s rhythmic language, one often doesn’t know which instrument is taking the leading role. There is a continual shifting of emphasis which almost reminds me of Ligeti. What’s fascinating in the duo playing is the feeling that we must follow the same direction yet not draw too close together, develop the same breath, yet also retain our autonomy.”
Both Carolin Widmann and Alexander Lonquich have previously recorded acclaimed discs for ECM. Widmann’s previous albums for the label include Schumann’s violin sonatas (with Dénes Várjon) and the recital disc “Phantasy of Spring” (with Simon Lepper, and music of Feldman, Zimmerman, Schoenberg and Xenakis). She is also a soloist on Erkki-Sven Tüür’s “Noësis”, on the “Strata” album.
Alexander Lonquich’s solo piano discs for ECM New Series include music of Robert Schumann/Heinz Holliger and Olivier Messiaen/Maurice Ravel/Gabriel Fauré, and he appears furthermore on Gideon Lewenshon’s “Odradek” recording.
The present album is issued in time for Widmann and Lonquich’s participation in the première of “Gefaltet”, a collaboration between choreographer Sasha Waltz and the composer Mark André, at the Mozartwoche 2012 in Salzburg.
Born in Munich, Carolin Widmann studied with Igor Ozim in Cologne, Michèle Auclair in Boston and David Takeno in London. She has performed as a soloist with the Gewandhaus-Orchester Leipzig, Orchestre National de France (Paris), the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia (Rome), the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, RSO Vienna, the BBC Symphony Orchestra London, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the China Philharmonic in Beijing, collaborating with conductors Riccardo Chailly, Sir Roger Norrington, Silvain Cambreling, Vladimir Jurowski, Emanuel Krivine, Peter Eötvös and Heinz Holliger. In the 2011/2012 season Carolin Widmann will be playing the world première of the violin concerto "Still" by Rebecca Saunders with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sylvain Cambreling.
Born in Trier, Alexander Lonquich launched his international career by winning the First Prize at the International Piano Competition “Antonio Casagrande“ in Terni, Italy at the age of sixteen. Today his concerts as soloist and conductor are hailed by the international media and audiences. He regularly appears with the Camerata Salzburg, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, Münchener Kammerorchester, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the HR Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt and others. He has also appeared most successfully as soloist of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, the Düsseldorf Symphonic Orchestra and others.