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Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Initiale
Songs and Early Chamber Music
Anna Prohaska (soprano), Cordelia Höfer (piano), Alessandro Cappone (violin) & Rachel Schmidt (violin)
This CD is the first recording of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s complete vocal works. The eleven songs are all interpreted by the 27-year-old rising star, Anna Prohaska, who currently captivates the opera world with her light and lyric soprano voice.
Members of the Berlin Philharmonic, including the Trio Berlin, present ‘Trio’as well as ‘Kleine Suite’, ‘Aria’ and ‘Sonate’. Except for ‘Sonate’ of 1950, all the works compiled on this CD were created between 1939 and 1946. Wergo thus closes a gap in Zimmermann's repertoire and puts the focus on the early career of this great composer: never had Zimmermann been as close to the neo-romantic tonal language as in his songs in which he set texts by Rilke, Klabund or Nietzsche, among others, to music. This genre – to which he never returned again – reflects both the expression of intimate feelings and his strong interest in literature.
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Phantasy of Spring
Carolin Widmann (violin) & Simon Lepper (piano)
The young German violinist, Carolin Widmann, resident in Britain, follows up her romantic Schumann debut on ECM – nominated for a Gramophone Award this month – with ‘Phantasy of Spring’, a very different recording of four uncompromising 20th century pieces –
performances of which she has a deserved international reputation. While she made her critically-acclaimed ECM debut last autumn with a thoughtprovoking account of Schumann’s three violin sonatas, Carolin Widmann’s reputation as a pioneering interpreter of contemporary music is spreading continuously. Teaming up with English pianist Simon Lepper she now presents a most varied spectrum of 20th century violin literature. By exploring the acoustic and expressive conflicts between the stringed instrument and the well-tempered keyboard, all four pieces are preoccupied with duo constellations beyond the traditional role models. Uncompromising and fiery renderings make for adventurous listening throughout.
Carolin Widmann (sister of German composer Jorg Widmann) gave the world premieres of no fewer than five violin concertos last year, including that of John Woolrich which she reprises with the Northern Sinfonia next April. She made her BBC Proms debut last year performing the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under George Benjamin, and on 19 November makes her Wigmore Hall recital debut with Dénes Várjon playing the Schumann sonatas. Simon Lepper is especially known for his work accompanying singers, among them Bryn Terfel, Angelika Kirchschlager, Mark Padmore, Felicity Palmer, Kate Royal and Joan Rodgers. He is an official accompanist for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Rosenblatt Song Prize and the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition.
“Widmann presents the best case I've heard on disc for the communicative power of Schoenberg's sometimes dry and forbidding Phantasy... She makes light of the technical challenges of Xenakis's rebarbative Dikthas, while...she and Lepper produce a beautifully voiced performance of Morton Feldman's Spring of Chosroes. A very fine collection.” The Guardian, 27th November 2009 *****
“Carolin Widmann and Simon Lepper respond superbly to the individual challenges of each piece, achieving the highest standards in such different music. Lepper copes admirably with Xenakis's somewhat mind-boggling rhythms, while Widmann responds with spectacular violin histrionics.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2010 ****
“this recital confirms [Widmann's] prowess in four testing post-war works...Widmann finds a purposeful trajectory through [Schoenberg's] juxtaposing of austere rhetoric and gritty energy...The sound is near-ideal in its unforced clarity.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2010
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