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Carolin Widmann & Frankfurt RSO: Feldman - Violin and Orchestra

img  Tobias Fischer

For fifty minutes, all routine is suspended, orchestral convulsions taking turns with spasms from the violin, nightmarish cluster chords bursting into feverish solo passages – whatever Feldman had in his system at the time, he was sweating, coughing and choking it out. Just when debate on "Violin and Orchestra" seemed closed and content with trivia – that it was initially titled "Why Webern?", that it marked the seminal turn in his oeuvre towards his landmark long works - Carolin Widmann and the Frankfurt RSO, which coincidentally premiered the work in 1979, are opening it up again. Their performance reveals layers behind layers, curtains behind curtains, Pianissississimos behind Pianississimos, suggesting a piece which is dense and massive, but never monolithic, with percussive dance segments and successions of short sequences creating a surreal rather than outright dark mood. The often heard claim that "Violin and Orchestra" is not to be regarded as a concerto, perpetuated from one generation of critics to the next, seems bewilderingly out of place here. In fact, the basic premise of a concerto – of pitting one performer against a larger instrumental body – has hardly ever been presented in more striking terms than here, with Feldman even scoring large sections of the solo part in high, glassy, otherworldly pitches to set it apart. The orchestral emanations aren't accompanying, following or leading the soloist, they are entering and leaving at a will of their own, like sudden apparitions, as though they were only real inside the dream of the violinist. These are mere associations, of course, but they are not without value: To get to the heart of Feldman, one must stop asking questions and keep playing – and that is precisely what Widmann has done.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Carolin Widmann
Homepage: ECM Records