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Jörg WIDMANN (born 1973)
Dunkle Saiten (1999/2000)a
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 Ė 1856)

Cello Concerto in A minor Op.129 (1850)
Jan Vogler (cello); Salome Kammer, Ursula Hesse (sopranos)a
Kammerorchester/Christoph Poppen
Recorded: Festhalle, Aschau, February 2000 (Schumann) and Bayerischer Rundfunk, Studio 1, July 2000 (Widmann)


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Though the principal aim of the present release is to demonstrate Jan Voglerís multifaceted talent, the main attraction of it is Jörg Widmannís cello concerto Dunkle Saiten.

Jörg Widmann trained as a clarinet player, and has been quite active as performing artist. (He gave the first performance of Wolfgang Rihmís Musik für Klarinette und Orchester "Linien II" written for him.) He also studied composition with Kay Westermann, Hans Werner Henze, Wilfried Hiller and Wolfgang Rihm.

His cello concerto Dunkle Saiten ("Dark Strings"), completed in 2000 and dedicated to Jan Vogler, is undoubtedly a considerable achievement and, quite likely (for I know nothing else of his music), one of his most ambitious works so far. It is a single movement design playing for three quarters of an hour, falling into four sections, roughly cast in an arch form. The first section, predominantly slow, emerges from the depths of the orchestra and unfolds in a song-like manner. A dark-hued, sorrowful chant building up towards an impressive climax. In the second section, the celloís song becomes more urgent, supported by sharper orchestral textures and insistent rhythms, sometimes unrelated to the celloís seemingly endless song. A mighty crescendo leads into the third section which is somewhat more varied and contrasted, and alternates orchestral interjections and sighs from the cello. The music gets some momentum, and becomes tenser and more agitated as it progresses. The celloís song reaches the instrumentís highest register. The celloís shrieks are echoed by the two soprano voices that introduce the fourth and final section. The voices, as it were, mix with the celloís high tones and later have some cadenza-like passages in which they have to produce some curious, ululating, nasal sounds, noises temporarily almost silencing the cello itself a voice that has been present from the very first bar of the piece. The cello re-enters for the dreamy, ethereal conclusion. This large-scale work is most certainly an impressive, deeply felt, personal statement, though I am not quite convinced by the final section, and particularly by the inclusion of voices in the orchestral fabric. I feel that they could have been deployed to magnify the powerfully lyrical character of the concerto; instead they tend to disrupt the flow rather than enhancing it. This is, I think, the only miscalculation on the composerís part in what is otherwise a gripping, communicative work of great emotional power and, one that often explores material of great beauty.

As far as I can judge, Voglerís reading of Schumannís Cello Concerto in A minor is very fine, though I must confess that I have never been a fan of this work. Needless to say: I would have preferred to have another work by Widmann who is, I believe, a most distinguished composer.

Excellent performances and recordings. Recommended for Widmannís concerto. In spite of my reservations this is a splendid work well worth investigating.

Hubert Culot

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