IVC Columbus Blog – Day 4

The 47th International Viola Congress takes place in Columbus, Georgia (USA) from June 1st – 5th, 2022. This daily blog / report is delivered to you by DVS board member Emlyn Stam.

Day 4: Satuday, June 4th, 2022
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The final full day of the viola congress included an enormous array of activities. The morning session featured our own DVS board member Karin Dolman’s performance of her own composition Pierrot Suite in full costume. Dolman’s performance was very well received in a packed theatre. Her piece tells the story of Pierrot, Harlequin and Colombine with a few references to Schönberg, Richard Strauss and others. Her performance was preceded by a warm rendition of Bach’s Violin Sonata number 2 by David Rose from the Cleveland Institute.

Karin Dolman’s performance “Pierrot”, in full costume (source: Karin Dolman’s vlog)

Scholar David Bynog from Rice University gave a lecture on Britten’s unpublished youth works and sketches for viola, complemented by marvelous performances by Timothy Ridout. Britten’s youthful Sonatina is a wonderful work that reveals the extent of the young composer’s talent at the young age of 14. We can only hope that the Britten-Pears Foundation will agree to publish these works so they can be disseminated amongst violists and music lovers alike. Bynog’s lectures touched on Britten’s relationship with the viola as a youngster as well as his relationship with violists over the course of his career, including William Primrose and Cecil Aronowitz.

David Bynog and Tim Ridout present unpublished Britten works for the viola (source: IVC livestream frame capture)

In the afternoon Santiago Velo Quintairos and Fernando Fresno Zarza (members of our DVS delegation and students at Codarts Rotterdam) presented a lecture on performing traditional Muiñeira’s from the Galicia in Spain on two violas. Their work used looping and pickup microphones to create a sound texture including percussion sounds, voice and viola. Their presentation was warmly received and their performances were both lively and convincing.

Recital by DVS/Codarts delegates Fernando (l) and Santiago (r) (source: Karin Dolman’s vlog)

This was followed by a presentation by veteran violist Thomas Tatton on the Joy of Practice. He gave a number of important guidelines on practicing to the assembled crowd and went through real live examples with the group having them practice these under his guidance. Polish violist Marcin Murawski gave a lecture on Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s 18 miniatures, a set of pieces of which he made the world premiere recording with pianist Nino Jvania. This turned out to be Kancheli’s last work and is full of warm melodic materials and jazz elements.

The evening concert featured a recital by Kim Kashkashian with pianist Renana Gutman. The program included Lera Auerbach’s dark, brooding viola sonata Arcanum and Kashkashian’s own transcriptions of songs from South America, Schumann’s Fünf Stücke im Volkston (originally for cello) and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (originally for violin). These transcriptions, especially the Stravinsky, proved to be less than successful as viola-piano works.

Kim Kashkashian’s evening recital (source: IVC livestream frame capture)

The traditional congress banquet featured an array of awards and in memoria, given that the congresses have not been held in the past (3) years due to the pandemic. The International Viola Society’s silver cleft for contributions to the viola was awarded to violist Robert Diaz and received by his parents and sister. The honorary membership was awarded to New Zealand violist Donald Maurice, whose achievements are too numerous and important to summarize here.

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Editor’s notes:
1) You can also follow Karin Dolman’s Columbus IVC VLOG (yes, video!) on facebook, starting here, and continuing here, here, here, here, and here.
2) Even if you missed the live event, you can still register (as a “Virtual attendee”) to explore all the recorded contents (lectures, recitals, masterclasses) of this congress for another 3 months! See the Congress Website for full information.

 

 

IVC Columbus Blog – Day 3

The 47th International Viola Congress takes place in Columbus, Georgia (USA) from June 1st – 5th, 2022. This daily blog / report is delivered to you by DVS board member Emlyn Stam.

Day 3: Friday, June 3rd, 2022
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The third day of the International Viola Congress featured some important contributions from the Dutch Viola Society. Violist Elisabeth Smalt and singer Alfrin Schmidt performed their original adaptations of Harry Partch’s songs. I gave my lecture on early-recorded performance practices, and violist Jutta Puchhammer-Sedillot (Université de Montréal) opened her lecture-recital with a performance of Dutch composer Theodor Verhey’s (1848-1929) charming Characteristic Pieces. Puchhammer’s lecture-recital focused on the numerous little-known works from the 19th and early-20th centuries for clarinet and piano that were also published in versions for viola and piano. The lecture, entitled ‘It does not always have to be Brahms’, revealed a broad list of works by some better and lesser-known composers from Max Reger and Charles Villiers Stanford through Egon Kornauth and Albert Wustrow. Puchhammer and pianist Elise Desjardins performed a selection of movements from the works discovered with admirable intensity and dedication.

Jutta Puchhammer lecturing on clarinet/viola repertoire (source: Marcin Murawski)

A lecture-recital by violist Rose Wollman (University of Notre Dame) focused on her original recital project centered on Ligeti’s Viola Sonata. Wollmann chose 17th and 18th-century works and commissioned contemporary works to play between the sonata’s various movements. She performed the world premiere of some of these newly commissioned works by violist-composers such as Garth Knox and Atar Arad. The recital will no doubt be impressive when presented in its full form in the future.

Featured Artist Kim Kashkashian giving a Masterclass (source: Marcin Murawski)

Viola guru Kim Kashkashian is a featured artist at this year’s congress. She gave a masterclass in front of a large crowd of adoring violists. Our own Santiago Velo from Codarts University played a movement of the Ligeti for this class at a high level.

The evening showcase featured a unique standup comedy viola performance by Isabel Hagen. Hagen is a professional standup comedian who also studied the viola at Juilliard. Her performance featured comic songs performed with her own plucked viola accompaniment, as well as some humorous interchanges between short performance of serious viola music and hard-hitting jokes. Hagen touched on many of the standard tropes popular with today’s young generation of comedians. Seeing a violist thrive as a standup comedian on such a high level is a testament to both the versatility of the instrument and its players today.

Isabel Hagen, violist and standup comedian (photo source: livestream screenshot)

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Editor’s notes:
1) You can also follow Karin Dolman’s Columbus IVC VLOG (yes, video!) on facebook, starting here, and continuing here, here, here, here, and here.
2) Even if you missed the live event, you can still register (as a “Virtual attendee”) to explore all the recorded contents (lectures, recitals, masterclasses) of this congress for another 3 months! See the Congress Website for full information.

 

 

 

 

 

IVC Columbus Blog – Day 2

The 47th International Viola Congress takes place in Columbus, Georgia (USA) from June 1st – 5th, 2022. This daily blog / report is delivered to you by DVS board member Emlyn Stam.

Day 2: Thursday, June 2nd, 2022
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The second day of the IVC 2022 featured a packed schedule. The first recital with students from Université de Montréal started at 08:00 with Piéces de Concours. The hour was so early that none of our DVS delegates were able to attend. We were told that the unfortunate students had no opportunity to warm up because the building was closed beforehand.

The first lecture of the day was given by Sachin Shukla (a student at the New England Conservatory) on the Walton Viola Concerto. He explored the concerto’s cryptic dedication to Walton’s love interest Christabel in the context of Walton’s working class origins and Christabel’s status as a member of the nobility. His theoretical analysis of the concerto was highly original and an article in the American Viola Society’s Journal is forthcoming this fall.

Leanne Darling (State University of New York) gave an inspiring lecture recital on looping, the use of live, electronically recorded loops in solo viola repertoire. She explained the technological tools involved and gave practical advice on practicing with and using loops for improvisation. The presentation concluded with a performance of 5 fascinating contemporary works for solo viola involving looping. One of the highlights was the work Flight by New York composer Trevor New full of stilted textures, unusual in this genre of music.

Leanne Darling performing with loop station (source: Karin Dolman)

A short walk to the Columbus State University’s Space Science Center followed for a recital in the omnisphere cinema. Meditative 3D animations with scientific and space-related themes accompanied the performances. This multidisciplinary experience connecting science and viola music was an interesting addition to the conference program.

This was followed by a recital featuring the previously unknown concerto for violin and viola by Ferdinand Thierot, a salon-like composition which was admirably performed by violist Jutta Puchhammer, violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and pianist Elise Desjardins.

Vogel, Desjardins and Puchhammer (photo credit: Marcin Murawski)

Daphne Gerling and Katherine Lewis gave a fine performance of Polish composer David Pajdzik’s concerto for two violas entitled Old Time Suite from 2019. The piece, a rather severe neo-classical work reminds one of Henryk Górecki’s late works.

The socially engaged, multidisciplinary performance piece Taioro ki te Ao from New Zealand was one of the highlights of the congress. The performance features the Māori spoken word performer Sharn Maree Cassady whose texts reflect on the challenges her people face as a result of colonization. The work centers indigenous narratives conveyed through Cassady’s powerful and gripping stage presence and superb sense of rhythm and intonation. The music composed by Anthony Ritchie provides a strong emotional counterpoint to the text and was performed with seriousness and verve by violist Donald Maurice and pianist Sherry Grant.

From the performance of Taioro ki te Ao (photo credit: Marcin Murawski)

Timothy Ridout was the guest of honour for an evening concert featuring no fewer than 3 concerti accompanied by conductor Paul Hostetter and a professional orchestra pulled together for the occasion. His strong musical presence was palpable from the first note of Alessandro Rolla’s Viola Concerto in E flat major. Ridout plays with grace, incredible skill and a constant communicative sense of character. His proficiency extends to a complete knowledge of the orchestral score, a sense of engaged music making with the orchestra and an enormous pallet of sound colours which keep the listener engaged throughout. The second work on the program by Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova, called Suite in the Old Style, opened with Ridout playing a drum at the back of the orchestra. The work features uncanny orchestration with a prominent role given to the harpsichord. Tabakova draws on a myriad of influences in this attractive, colourful work including Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Bulgarian and Celtic folk musics. Compositional forms and tropes from the 18th century are used with a sense of fun and irony. The work represents a valuable contribution to the repertoire for viola and chamber orchestra. Ridout performed the piece with great zeal and a keen sense of timing. The final work of the evening was Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Potpourri op.94. This work was previously known in a severely truncated form as the Fantasia for viola and orchestral owing to 20th century editions of the piece that cut out its middle sections. The full Potpourri contains myriad riches including variations on themes by Mozart, Rossini and others. Ridout played the work with ease and grace emphasizing its humorous character and tossing off technical fireworks with bravado. Ridout has clearly fulfilled his promise to become one of the leading violists of our time.

Featured Artist Tim Ridout stalked by DVS vloggers backstage (source: Karin Dolman)

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Editor’s notes:
1) You can also follow Karin Dolman’s Columbus IVC VLOG (yes, video!) on facebook, starting here, and continuing here, here, here, here, and here.
2) Even if you missed the live event, you can still register (as a “Virtual attendee”) to explore all the recorded contents (lectures, recitals, masterclasses) of this congress for another 3 months! See the Congress Website for full information.

IVC Columbus Blog – Day 1

The 47th International Viola Congress takes place in Columbus, Georgia (USA) from June 1st – 5th, 2022. This daily blog / report is delivered to you by DVS board member Emlyn Stam.

Day 1: Wednesday, June 1st, 2022
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This year’s International Viola Congress is happening in the small town of Columbus, Georgia, USA. It’s been almost 3 years since the previous IVC (in Poznan, Poland), but more importantly, for the first time since 2012, the congress is once again organized in the United States, in conjunction with the American Viola Society’s annual festival.

Columbus is a quiet town with a distinctly southern atmosphere on the Alabama border. Houses with white columns and front porches with rocking chairs and friendly, southern hospitality. People routinely greet you when you pass them on the street. The various churches clearly play a big role in the community. It is also notable for those of us coming from abroad that numerous people on the street openly carry firearms. I also overheard one spirited discussion about politics in America at a local café.

Host Katrin Meidell welcoming Congress visitors (picture credit: Marcin Murawski)

The congress is taking place at the Columbus University’s Schwob School of Music and is hosted by the viola professor Dr. Katrin Meidell and her amicable team. The distinguished violist Manuel Diaz, her predecessor who is nearly 90 years old, was given an AVS award at the opening ceremony. He told the audience his incredible life story from his family’s flight during the Spanish Civil War to their arrival in Chile as refugees in the 1930s. In Chile, Diaz took up the viola and became the principal of the national orchestra. Eventually the coup in Chile forced Diaz to flee to the United States with his family where he in turn worked at the Atlanta Symphony and for a firm as an engineer before he was able to take up a professorship at Columbus State University.

After this warm introduction we were treated to an enthusiastic lecture by Andrea Houde (from the University of West Virginia) about using imagery to aid viola teaching. She spent a great deal of time addressing imagery for technical right and left hand matters which led to a spirited discussion. Her work does tend to assume that there is a single ‘correct’ bow hold and left hand position for playing the viola, which is at odds with the diversity of historical and contemporary practices.

Andrew Braddock (from West Kentucky University) gave an insightful lecture on Hans Werner Henze’s viola repertoire. He gave a spirited performance of Henze’s highly serious and fraught viola sonata. His performances exuded a great deal of precision while avoiding emotional extremes. His performance of the solo piece An Brenton similarly conveyed his great knowledge of the repertoire.

Numerous competitions and masterclasses also took place on day 1. Happy competitors of all ages received prizes from the American Viola Society. It was encouraging to see the racial diversity represented by today’s American viola students.

Visual impression from Natalie Loughran’s recital (image credit: Karin Dolman)l

The winner of the 2021 Primrose International Viola Competition Natalie Loughran gave the evening’s showcase recital with pianist Tatiana Muzanova. The program opened with Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro played with a warm, clean, graceful tone and an appealing vibrato. Loughran certainly plays with a high degree of precision and clarity of line and structure. She followed this with a performance of her own arrangement of the American composer William Grant Still’s (1895-1978) Suite, a beautiful if repetitive work with a neo-impressionist flavour. Still, an African composer born in Mississippi is rather unknown outside of the United States. Loughran’s performance of the second movement Loop from Ligeti’s Viola Sonata was unconventional in the application of a kind of Blues swing. I had never heard the piece played this way before and found it refreshing. The technical execution of the various left hand jumps was top notch. This was followed by a performance of American composer Stephen Coxe’s Elegy, an atmospheric if rather one-sided solo viola work which makes good use of the full register of the instrument. The final work on the program was Henri Vieuxtemp’s beloved Viola Sonata, performed with a great smoothness of sound and line and an intense vibrato. While performed with technical proficiency in every respect, the predictability of Loughran’s performance did little to overcome the deficiencies inherent in Vieuxtemp’s cookie cutter composition. Loughran’s playing reminds one a great deal of Kim Kashkashian’s in the subtle, smooth approach to sound and bowing. Given her young age of 24 and her already impressive accomplishments we are sure to hear more of Loughran in the future.

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Editor’s notes:
1) You can also follow Karin Dolman’s Columbus IVC VLOG (yes, video!) on facebook, starting here, and continuing here, here, here, here, and here.
2) Even if you missed the live event, you can still register (as a “Virtual attendee”) to explore all the recorded contents (lectures, recitals, masterclasses) of this congress for another 3 months! See the Congress Website for full information.

 

 

 

 

Trio Estatico & Bianca Bongers in Concert

Kristofer G. Skaug – Amstelkerk, April 3rd 2022

What a delightful surprise, to be invited to a concert dedicated entirely to (new) music for three violas! The Dutch composer Bianca Bongers joined forces with the newly formed Trio Estatico to create a very interesting evening in the Amstelkerk (Amsterdam).

The Trio consists of viola players from top-notch European ensembles for contemporary music:  Paul Beckett (Klangforum Wien), Megumi Kasakawa (Ensemble Modern) and John Stulz (Ensemble Intercontemporain), and this was in fact their first live concert (!).

The performance was preceded by an extensive interview with three of the composers contributing to the programme: Jakob Böttcher, Bianca Bongers and Yang Song, discussing their pieces as well as their general approach to writing for the viola, and three violas in particular. The violist John Stulz joined them on stage to note that there was a relative lack of new repertoire for viola trio (Editor’s note: the DVS Catalogue of Viola Ensemble Music currently lists “only” 80 original compositions for this format – vastly outnumbered by viola duos and quartets).

The opening piece was by composer Jakob Böttcher (from Hamburg, Germany), titled  Nebenwirkung (Side Effect). The three players stood in a circle facing outward to the audience. They wore headphones for a click track to synchronize themselves, as the music indeed had a very noticeable fixed pulse, but sometimes considerable rests that could lead to certain drift if left to the players to count out in their heads. Another interesting visible implement was a sheet of paper wrapped around the neck of each viola – for two purposes: to dampen unwanted upper-string harmonics, as well as the evocation of a certain subtle buzz – either of which could be regarded as either main or side effect. Hence the title, I suppose. The music itself featured a texture of brushy transversal bow strokes (up/down along the strings), as well as emphatic up-bow exclamations on the C-string with sudden stops. The unheard beat remained constant, but the periodicity of the played patterns varied throughout the piece.

The composition Micro-moments VII by Arshia Samsaminia (Iran) brought a different technical innovation: A small electronic transmitter – specially designed by the composer for this occasion – was suspended on a string from the scroll of each viola. These transmitters emitted pure sine waves at different frequencies. The violas, in turn, were configured with minuscule (micro) mutual tuning differences. What started as a play on very high and soft flageolet notes gradually increased in harmonic richness as the deeper notes on the violas were explored, giving rise to fascinating complex harmonics, a slow kaleidoscopic transformation (inspiration by – or evocation of – geometric shapes had been mentioned as a common theme among the composers), enriched and reinforced by the electronic tranmitters. For a final statement, the violas converged on the open C-string.

The next piece, Mitte (suitably located in the middle of the programme) was our hostess Bianca Bongers‘ (pictured also in the middle, above) specific musical contribution for this evening. Her background as professionally educated cellist was noticeable here, the violas were used with less unconventional techniques and with perhaps a more directed intention to exploit their characteristic sounds. A calm wavy motion from high to low pitch undulating between the players would be punctuated by more agitated pizzicato ripples. Glissando rising or falling notes with jagged tremolo bowing created interesting diagonal lines into the picture, seeking to either converge toward or diverge from a common centre, a place outlined as a “negative space” that would only be reached with the very final note, where the three voices came softly to rest.

The Slovenian composer Nina Šenk created the piece “…. da kehrte die Ruhe ein… (… and then came peace…)” (version II, 2022) with a texture of minimal oscillations between nearly-equal pitches and tone colours (typically played as 4th – 1st finger pairings across two strings). On this background the violas alternated to sing what sounded to me like fragments of a chorale. In the concluding stretch, the low strings came more prominently in the picture, evoking a rich spectrum of harmonics, with the soft chirping of birds oddly confirming the anticipated peace.

In Masks, the young (London-based) Chinese composer Zhenyan Li conceived of three episodes of what sounded to me like a very lively conversation in a group of three, with some quite engaging topics. The language consists of agitated crescendo up-strokes – some with flageolets – short statements exchanged in rapid succession from three sides. Occasionally a player gets a longer sentence in edgewise, spoken as a more free chat-like cadenza. An extremely long and slow glissando from high to low and then from low to high underlines the final exchanges.

Finally we were treated to a fascinating soundscape in Nomadic Sound by Yang Song, who hails from Inner Mongolia (China). The players distanced themselves from each other to spread the sound in the hall as much as possible. The composer’s intention was to coordinate the players by means of an electronic score with a synchronously moving barline (this can be seen in the video below!), requiring some quite funky technology (mutually time-slaved iPads), and is anyway clearly very challenging for the players (it’s not exactly how musicians are used to being “conducted”). The result was nevertheless very enjoyable, with a rich variety of sound effects: grinding, plucking, sliding, sweeping – it moved so vividly that I was unable to catch any development (if there was any), but it sure made me sit up and listen!

A big thank-you to the three violists and six composers who contributed to this very unusual and interesting concert. Let’s hope this is just a beginning to a wider interest in composing viola trios, and also the start to a well-deserved success for Trio Estatico! I hope this review will inspire more people to attend their future concerts.

Three of the pieces from this concert (Micro-moments VII, Masks, and Nomadic Sounds) can be seen and heard – among many other trio pieces – in a YouTube recording made by Trio Estatico for their premiere online concert earlier this year:

DVS Lecture “Collaboration with Living Composers”

The DVS has the pleasure to invite you to an online lecture:

The roles and responsibilities of the violist
when collaborating with living composers

Lecturer:  Michelle Pritchard
Date:  Saturday, March 19th 2022
Time: 17:00h (Central European Time)
Place: Online (Zoom;
registered participants will receive a link)
Language:  English
Costs: Voluntary financial donation,
we suggest €10,-
Registration: Use form below

Australian-born violist Michelle Pritchard is completing her Master’s thesis at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Her research is an exploration into the realisation of new and pre-existing viola works, the resulting artistic and intellectual exchanges between composer and violist, and of course the expansion of our repertoire. In this YouTube clip, you can see and hear her perform one of the subject works:


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Viola Ensemble Catalogue rev.14 Released

After 20 months of silent accumulation, the long-overdue 14th revision of the popular DVS Viola Ensemble Catalogue has finally been released. Thanks to the lack of diversions during this continued pandemic, this is the single biggest update/addition ever to our catalogue, with no less than 282 new entries!

The catalogue now contains a total of 1103 richly documented works, of which ~70% are original compositions for viola ensemble (this in part means, that I’m running behind on documenting the gazillions of transcriptions out there!). The duets and quartets are the biggest categories, with almost 400 (of which 100 new) works each in this edition.

Hurry over to our Sheet Music page and download your own copy!

Verslag 1e Ronde Hindemith-concours

Van 14 t/m 20 oktober vindt in München het 1e Internationale Hindemith-concours plaats. Onze verslaggeefster ter plaatse is Karin Dolman, en ze geeft op haar unieke wijze met tekst en eigen tekeningen impressies van het concours door.

Op 15 oktober luisteren we met een handvol publiek en de jury naar 17 kandidaten die zijn geslecteerd uit een ingestuurde video. 102 kandidaten hadden zich aangemeld, en
uit deze groep zijn 20 kandidaten geselecteerd. Drie geselecteerde kandidaten zijn niet gekomen om welke reden dan ook. Wat we te horen krijgen in de Concertzaal van het Conservatorium in München is de crème de la crème van jonge altviolisten.

Al meteen met de eerste kandidate Katie Liu wordt de toon gezet. Ze speelt uit de 6e suite van Bach de Prelude en de Allemande. De nieuwe technologie komt ook het podium op. De tablet met voetpedaal! Prachtige toon! Met een zeer vast tempo, en goed volgehouden ook in de snelle slierten. Met een adempauze na de akkoorden. De Allemande mooi van toon. De Form und Zetmaß einer Passaglia opus 11/5 van Hindemith is één van de verplichte stukken. Of men kon het laatste deel uit de 31/4 kiezen. Katie koos voor de eerste. En dat doet ze heel knap.

Atar Arad heeft de opdracht gekregen om voor dit concours het opdrachtwerk te schrijven. Net als Hindemith schrijft hij voor het instrument, maakt gebruik van de kwinten van het instrument en van alle effecten die de altviool zo altviool maken, zonder haar virtuositeit te laten. Het is een Chaconne geworden! Ik hoor het vandaag voor het eerst. Petje af voor alle kandidaten, die dit prachtige maar o zo moeilijke stuk hebben ingestudeerd. Ik verheug me om het wel 17 keer te mogen horen.

Ionel Ungureanu speelt uit de Bach-suite nummer 4 de Prelude en Bourree 1 en 2. Na een wat onzeker begin duikt hij met veel energie in Arad’s Chaconne en geeft ons een waanzinnig pallet aan kleuren. En de Hindemith 31/4 uit het hoofd – en geloof me, zelfs Hindemith had moeite om deze sonate goed te spelen.

Als derde komt Takehiro Konoye, een bekende voor ons van het Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Bach-Suite nummer 2 op het programma. Loepzuiver en met gemak gaat hij zijn altviool te lijf. De Chaconne van Arad heeft weer een ander palet van kleuren, o wat een fijn stuk. De Hindemith gaat uit het hoofd, en meteen is daar een betere performer. Lessenaar ook goed weg gezet. Mooi getimed. Geweldig gespeeld. Met rust en gevoel.

Yuri Yoon speelt uit Bach-suite nummer 2 de Prelude en Gigue, met barokstok. Hindemith heel goed gespeeld, helaas net een paar teveel foutjes. En het tempo is wel erg bedeesd. Arad: kleuren zijn er wel, maar iets te snel achter elkaar.

Gaeun Song begint heel verrassend met de verplichte Chaconne. Een heel romantische uitvoering, gepassioneerd. Daarna de Passacaglia van Hindemith. Ook een mooie gepassioneerde uitvoering. Toch niet zo verrassend want we krijgen de Bach vijfde suite in scordatura. Moeilijk blijft het om er een eigen verhaal van te maken. Wanneer je met iets heel intiems overblijft kan het nog intiemer gespeeld worden .

Erin Pitts – op blote voeten, ja waarom niet. Bach suite 4 Prelude en Sarabande met leuke versieringen. Lekker speels. Misschien niet 100 % zuiver, maar heel interessant en fijn om naar te luisteren. En een hele krachtige Hindemith. Een vrouw met pit, ha ha, het zit in de naam. Ze is duidelijk op het podium. Met grote extremen in dynamiek speelt de Chaconne van Arad. Misschien nog niet helemaal klaar met studeren op het stuk, maar voor mij een duidelijk verhaal.

Wenhan Jiang gaat aan de slag met Bach Suite 2. Wanneer Wenhan zou zeggen dat hij een groot fan is van Nigel Kennedy, zou ik het meteen geloven. Modern kapsel en een zeer persoonlijke manier van spelen. Ook hij komt met een versierd einde in de prelude. En wel een zeeeeeer versierd einde. Ook de twee menuetten zijn rijkversierd, maar nergens dat ik ergens van op kijk. Het stuk van Arad speelt hij geweldig, rijk gevuld met allerlei klanken. Hij idd de enige die Atar bedankt voor de mooie Chaconne! De Hindemith is ongelofelijk goed. Foutloos en, nou gewoon om jaloers van te worden. Behalve zijn nek, wanneer hij later geen klachten krijgt dan eet ik mijn schoen op.

Seohyun Moon speelt uit de vierde Bach-suite Courante en Sarabande. Ik merk dat verwend wordt met al die mooie klanken. Heel uitgebalanceerd. Het stuk van Arad gaat nooit vervelen. Iedere keer haalt wel weer een andere kandidaat iets anders moois naar voren. Deze jongeman is vooral goed om in de dubbelgrepen de juiste stem in zijn hele volheid naar voren te brengen. Deze Seohyun presteert het om met CD kwaliteit te spelen. Waar anderen hun podiumpresentatie ook nog in het spel moeten zetten kan hij iedere noot de juiste perfectie geven, en ook een mooie vibrato non vibrato en niet saai!

Dong Yeob Kong opent met de zesde suite van Bach. Daarna Atar Arad’s Chaconne. En weer horen we nieuwe inzichten. Passacaglia van Hindemith: Wat een prachtige akkoorden. Je kunt zo mooi de bas volgen!

Ja ja, maar dan is onze dag nog niet klaar. Want wij moeten nog naar de opening van een tentoonstelling over Hindemith en Walter Witte. Deze tentoonstelling over twee mensen die in een roerige tijd leefden was uitgerekend in het bureau van Adolf Hitler. Een zelfs geëmotioneerde voorzitter, Ludwig Hampe ook altviolist, van de Witte Stichting, die het Hindemith-concours financieert, gaf een zeer goede lezing over Hindemith en Walter Witte. En ook de zaal werd in het verhaal betrokken. Indrukwekkend.

Jutta Puchhammer, voorzitter van de IVS met wie ik een kamer deel, en ik zijn even naar ons hotel terug gegaan. Hebben een eitje gebakken en omkleden en dan weer terug voor het “Meisterkonzert”. Danusha Waskiewiecz speelt met pianiste Yumi Sekiya. Eerst allemaal bewerkingen van zangstukken. Vooral het stukje van Sibelius “Norden” vond ik erg mooi. En er volgt een mooie maar hele snelle Rebecca Clarke sonate. Na de sonate komt Waskiewiecz terug met Naomi Berrill op cello. Dat was een mooie verrassing, want ze konden ook nog eens alle twee mooi zingen tegelijkertijd. Prachtig. Met werken van Dowland, Purcell Wolf, Bach en Bartók.

Dan na een korte pauze treedt op het podium de Noor Lars Anders Tomter. Hij is gewoon zichzelf en speelt ook als zichzelf, geen poespas, geen dansjes, maar doet gewoon zijn ding. Ook weer prachtig. We worden wel verwend. Eerst de Brahms Sonate is Es en als tweede en laatste stuk van de avond Schostakowitsch sonate opgedragen aan Vladimir Mendelssohn.

Eerste Ronde – Dag 2, 16 oktober:

Alona Khievna: Wat is dit Ukraine meisje goed! Ten eerste alles uit het hoofd, Alles ziet er ook zo natuurlijk uit. geweldige stokvoering en een prachtig verhaal. Een rijke vibrato en durft in de extremen te gaan. Een absolute favoriet voor mij. En zij doet het op een niet de allermooiste altviool. Op het programma de eerste partita (nr2) en Hindemith 11/5.

Dan komt de jongste het podium op: Carla Usberti, een Duits meisje. Weer zo goed, prachtige toon. En alles uit het hoofd. En pas 20 jaar!. Te bedenken dat zo’n meisje nog aan haar studie kan gaan beginnen. Op het programma Bach Suite 3 en Hindemith 11/5.

Emiko Yuasa studeert ook in München. Op het programma Bach suite 2 en Hindemith 31/4. Weer een kandidaat voor de volgende ronde. Ik weet gewoon niet meer welke kandidaten er voor een volgende ronde in aanmerking komen.

Annariina Jokela uit Finland. op het programma Bach-suite nr 4 en Hindemith 31/4. Ze begint met het stuk van Arad. Inmiddels kan ik de partij meelezen, wat weer een heleboel inzichten geeft. Het stuk heeft zeker een Jiddisch karakter. Ook pizzicato wordt als ondersteuning, maar ook als melodisch motief gebruikt. In zijn caprices is een overeenkomst met de anonymus. Alweer een geweldige uitvoering van Annariina. Helaas raakt ze in de in de Bach even het spoor bijster en moet de muziek erbij pakken. Je hoort bij haar heel goed de verschillende variaties. Speelt ook een ietwat rustiger tempo.

Hung-Tzu Chu uit Taiwan heeft op het programma Bach suite nr 2 en Hindemith 11/5. Ze speelt met veel pit, heeft af en toe wat intonatieproblemen, maar compenseert dit met haar muzikale lijnen. Ik besef dat in de stukken de vibrato weinig kans krijgt om te zingen, maar die momenten die er zijn kunnen eigenlijk bij bijna alle kandidaten niet iets worden benut. Ze sluit af met een vurige Hindemith.

Je zegt nu bijna, eindelijk weer een man! wanneer de zeer jonge Noor Njord Kårason Fossnes op het podium komt. Op het programma Bach suite 2, met barokstok. Die ziet wel erg kort uit. Maar dat komt waarschijnlijk omdat een reus op het podium staat. En weer een kandidaat die alles uit zijn hoofd doet. Wat een geweldenaar. Misschien in de echt de snelste passages laten zijn vingers niet de echte nauwkeurigheid zien. Maar zeker eenkandidaat voor de volgende ronde.

Oscar Edin uit Zweden heeft op het programma (viool-)Partita nr.2 van Bach en Hindemith 11/5. Wat een mooie toon en gevoel voor een heel nuchtere Bach. Ik hoop dat het ene foutje wordt kwijt gescholden. Hij steekt helemaal voorop het podium, wat maakt dat je het gevoel hebt samen met hem muziek te maken. Zijn afkorten zijn ook heel mooi rustig en je hoort mooi alle noten. nog 2 keer de Chaconne. Mooie toon, maar hij kon nog wat gedurfder spelen. Specialiteit misschien de tijdgenoten? Heel goed, dat stuk van Atar Arad.

Wat fijn dat de voorrondes tegenwoordig met video gaan. Stel je voor je moet 103 kandidaten ieder een half uur beoordelen en kunt daar je tijd niet voor nemen.

De laatste kandidate komt uit Spanje! Cristina Cordero. Programma Bach vierde suite en eens andere delen, Allemande en Bourree. Zij speelt de Chaconne van Arad met heel veel tijd. Laat het herkenbare thema iedere keer in alle rust terug komen. alles klinkt heel natuurlijk en organisch. In Hindemith 11/5 laat Cristina de drieklanken bijna allemaal tegelijk klinken. Jammer ze is er even uit. Ze is zo’n goede altvioliste! Zo mooi speelt ze.

Om 17.30 komt het verlossende woord van de jury: De halve finale wordt gespeeld door

  • Ionel Ungureanu
  • Yuri Yoon
  • Alona Khievna
  • Carla Usberti
  • Emiko Yuasa
  • Njord Kårason Fossnes

Verslag van de halve en hele finales volgt in de volgende aflevering(en)!

In Memoriam Ron Ephrat

De Dutch Viola Society neemt met grote verslagenheid kennis van het overlijden van altviolist Ron Ephrat op 15 september jl.

Ron was hoofdvakdocent altviool bij Codarts, het Koninklijk Conservatorium en het Utrechts Conservatorium. In al die jaren heeft hij met zijn oneindige kennis van de altviool en zijn ervaring, ongekende passie en gedrevenheid voor muziek vele studenten, collega’s en vrienden geïnspireerd. Hij was zeer gerespecteerd en speelde kamermuziek met de allerbeste muzikale partners op het hoogste niveau. Ron was aanvoerder van de altvioolsectie en solo altviolist van het Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest.

Ook na zijn pensionering is hij fervent doorgegaan met lesgeven. Hij kon het niet laten om zijn kennis door te geven aan jonge mensen.

Veel van zijn oudstudenten hebben een goede plek in het internationale muziekleven veroverd.

Wij zullen hem niet vergeten. Onze welgemeende condoleances aan Ron’s familie.

In Memoriam Vladimir Mendelssohn (1949-2021)

Vladimir Mendelssohn (Image credit: Wikimedia*)

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of violist, pedagogue and composer Vladimir Mendelssohn. Through his performances as a chamber musician across the world and his tireless dedication to teaching at the conservatories in Paris, Essen, Rotterdam and The Hague he made his mark on the broader musical landscape. As a young conservatoire student I was lucky enough to have been one of his students and later to have had opportunities to perform with him in concert. Those of us that knew Vladimir will always remember both his endearing warmth and his uncanny sense of humour. As a pedagogue he seemed to always find exactly the right words to fit any situation. Early on in my studies he told me “you must learn not to keep hitting your head against the wall. As a musician you will be faced with many obstacles and the key to thriving is learning how to go around, over or under them.” After 15 years I have found these words to ring truer than ever. Similarly, he approached chamber music rehearsals with great tact and was able to navigate the difficulties arising therein with ease. During one rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence he turned to the cellists and said deadpan “perhaps this section could sound a little less like a song of the submariners of the navy of Severomorsk.” As a colleague and as a teacher Vladimir was able to help others overcome literally any obstacle they faced. As a performer, the warmth of his tone and the spontaneity of his performances will never be forgotten by those of us who heard him in concert.

Emlyn Stam

*) Image credits: By crop of File:Quatuor_Enesco.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24412218