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.
“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
“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 *****