Jörg Widmann, András Schiff, and Miklós Perényi Photo: Silvia Lelli/Salzburg Festival 2010
I’ve been sorry to not have more time to sample the wonderful live performances of Wolfgang Rihm’s music that is on display everywhere this year at the Salzburg Festival. Such a broad based dedication of time and resources to a living composer’s music is undoubtedly a huge honor, and it makes one wonder who will step into these shoes in years to come. One answer may be German composer and clarinetist Jörg Widmann
who at 37 has already racked up a number of significant awards and commissions in both Europe and the U.S. He appeared in both roles at the Salzburg Festival on Tuesday in a chamber music program in the lovely Grosser Saal of the Stiftung Mozarteum. The three other participants in this program were pianist András Schiff, cellist Miklós Perényi, and the composer Johannes Brahms. Brahms was ostensibly the influence for this series of chamber music programs at this year’s festival, and Schiff was the star performer who was consistent throughout the evening.
He started off with excerpts from Bach’s Art of the Fugue,
which was unsurprisingly super. Then came the actual Brahms on the program, the Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1 where Schiff was joined by Perényi for one of those great performances that makes you wonder how something like this is related to what you normally call chamber music. Subtle and endlessly surprising are not two sentiments I typically associate with Brahms, but there you have it. The second half of the evening belonged to Widmann in one manner or another. First up was the premiere of a solo piano work Widmann composed especially for Schiff called Intermezzi for Piano
. Widmann notes these five short movements are heavily influenced by a series of Intermezzi composed by Brahms in 1892/1893. Widmann describes his composition as being intermezzi in the sense that he views them as tapping into “the secret after a sound, as well as the anticipatory pre-sound, the space of the in-between.” And, as the description suggests, Schiff played the series of notes by turns dramatic and restrained as if each set presented elements simply hanging in the air. It was well received by the audience and made way for the closing work: Zemlinsky’s Trio for Clarinet, Piano and Cello in which Widmann played with the other soloists. Zemlinsky’s late Romantic swirl provided an excellent cap to some extremely impressive playing and a wonderful show. And while nothing is certain for the future, musical otherwise, Widmann left the audience wanting to hear more and that is always the best possible sign.
Labels: Salzburg Festival 2010