Ireland Hildegard von Bingen, Julian Anderson, Telemann, Salvatore Sciarrino, Bach, George Benjamin – Another Prayer: Carolin Widmann (violin). Recorded in March 2021 in St Martin Church, Audigast, Saxony, German and streamed from Louth Contemporary Music Society website (click here), 18.4.2021. (RB)
Hildegard von Bingen – Antiphona
Julian Anderson – Another Prayer
Telemann – Phantasy No.7 in E-flat for violin without bass
Salvatore Sciarrino – Six Capriccios for solo violin (2 movements)
Bach – Partita for solo violin in D Minor BWV 1004 (2 movements)
George Benjamin – Three Miniatures for solo violin
This concert from the Louth Contemporary Music Society featured German virtuoso violinist, Carolin Widmann, playing a series of works for solo violin. The concert offered an intriguing mix of medieval, Baroque and contemporary music.
The first work on the programme was Hildegard von Bingen’s Antiphona which dates back to the twelfth century. Widmann walked into the interior of St Martin’s Church as she played the work and captured the serene spirituality of the piece. She followed this up with Another Prayer by Julian Anderson which the composer wrote specifically for Widmann. He saw this work as a response to Hildegard and asks us to reconsider prayer ‘as something urgent, potentially forceful and often lively’. I am not a violinist, but this ten-minute work sounded exceptionally demanding technically. There were forceful and dramatic elements, gypsy fiddle-type music and eerie slides and brusque sounds towards the end of the piece. Widmann showed extraordinary technical control throughout and gave a compelling performance.
The next work was the seventh of twelve fantasias which Telemann wrote for solo violin. Widmann played this short piece with expressive beauty of tone and refined sensibility. Next up was Salvatore Sciarrino’s Six Capriccios which provided a striking contrast to the Telemann. Widmann captured the jabbering, comic elements of the first capriccio as she negotiated the composer’s rapid high wire leaps. The second capriccio with its double stopping and trilled harmonics had a more meditative quality.
Widmann turned next to Bach’s monumental Partita for solo violin in D Minor. I would have loved to hear her perform the great Chaconne which concludes the work, but on this occasion we had to settle for the Sarabande and Gigue. Widmann was on top of the double stopping and multi-layered effects in the Sarabande and the movement as a whole had a stately nobility. However, this performance was a little cool and I would have liked to hear a bit more of the poignancy and anguish that courses through this movement. Widmann captured perfectly the dance elements in her concluding Gigue and the handling of the rapid passagework was exemplary.
The final work on the programme was George Benjamin’s Three Miniatures for solo violin which the composer wrote for friends in 2001-02. The ‘Lullaby for Lalit’ with its melody and open string accompaniment contrasted markedly with the more robust ‘Canon for Sally’. In the final ‘Lauer Lied’ Widmann played the opening pizzicato section while holding the violin like a guitar. The final section with its arco song and pizzicato accompaniment was played with immense clarity.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable recital and I liked the juxtaposition of contemporary work with earlier music. Carolin Widmann’s handling of the demanding pyrotechnics was a virtuoso tour de force.