Heinz Holliger: Violinkonzert (Hommage à Louis Soutter, élève d´Eugène Ysaÿe)
“During 1993-5 Heinz Holliger composed a threemovement Violin Concerto of about half an hour. Shortly before this recording of 2002 he added a 17-minute Epilogue: 'I want to show that music can age, be sapped of vital energy and end in agony.' The concerto is inscribed as homage to Louis Soutter, a Swiss-born violinist and painter (1871-1942) whose troubled images of violence and despair haunted Holliger for many years. The Epilogue is called 'Before the massacre', after one of Souter's macabre paintings from 1939. The concerto clearly isn't a lighthearted piece, but neither is it emptily depressing or disheartening. Soutter studied with Ysaÿe, so Holliger starts from Ysaÿe's short Third Sonata, played here as a prelude. The first three movements offer a dazzling portrait of virtuosity under strain. The Epilogue is much tougher, but Holliger does not totally renounce all suggestions of compassion for human victims of violence and fanaticism. This may be ageing, agonised music, but its effect is less of futility than of hushed awe in the face of a creative impulse that refuses to lie down and die. These positive impressions owe much to the artistry of Thomas Zehetmair, who has been associated with the concerto from the beginning. The recording gives a needle-sharp aural image of the progress from bright colours and brittle textures to dark evanescence.”
“The Concerto is a portrait of Louis Soutter, who studied the violin with Ysaÿe, and later became a painter of dark pictures… Holliger quotes the opening of this particular sonata in distorted form at the beginning of his Concerto, and throughout the work used the virtuoso playing technique that Ysaÿe developed. Disturbing music, but the real thing.”
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