August 4, 2020

The violinist without limits | Culture

Whoever attends the five concerts that Isabelle Faust will offer in the next months as a resident artist of the current season of the National Center for Musical Broadcasting can get a very good idea of ​​the many virtues that have placed the German violinist in the most high from the ladder of your instrument. Since the last of the Rosary Sonatas Biber up to three pieces composed for her by Heinz Holliger five years ago, Faust will go through many centuries of music, will play solo, lead various chamber music formations and will be the soloist with both a small group of historical instruments (the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin ) as with a great symphony orchestra (that of Galicia). A party for the listeners and a real exam full of demands for her.

If something characterizes Isabelle Faust is her nonconformity, her rejection of a conventional concert career, her aversion to glamor that many great artists like to surround herself with and her loyalty to musicians and groups with whom she likes to collaborate assiduously. In the last years of his life he became the lead violinist of Claudio Abbado, whose death prevented them from recording, as they had projected, the Concerts for violin from Mozart. The hard core of his colleagues is made up of Alexander Melnikov, his head pianist, and Jean-Guihen Queyras, his reference cellist: the three together form one of the greatest piano trios today. In the inevitable comparison with his compatriot Anne-Sophie Mutter, nine years older than her, Faust represents a determined breath of modernity, already symbolized from how they usually dress over and over a stage or by the type of photographs used on the covers of their discs. Mutter, an old-fashioned soloist, has never run the risks, nor is she very friendly about venturing along the hidden paths in which her colleague, however, feels very comfortable. Last summer, for example, Faust performed at the frustrated closing concert of the Granada Festival he Violin Concerto no. 3, "Alhambra", by composer Peter Eötvös, which has also played last month with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Webern: Trifles op. 9. Schubert: Quartettsatz D. 703. Octeto, D. 803. Isabelle Faust and Anne – Katharina Schreiber (violins), Danusha Waskiewicz (viola), Kristin von der Goltz (cello), James Munro (double bass), Lorenzo Coppola (clarinet), Javier Zafra (bassoon) and Teunis van der Zart (horn) . National Auditorium, October 9.

Faust has started his residency in Madrid in a big way and with a team of great travel companions, mostly current members (Anne-Katharina Schreiber, James Munro and the Alicante Javier Zafra) and past (Kristin von der Goltz and Teunis van der Zart) or regular collaborators (Lorenzo Coppola) of the Baroque Orchestra of Friborg, in addition to the violist Danusha Waskiewicz, also very close to Claudio Abbado and a member of his Mozart Orchestra. All of them, as can be deduced from their affiliation, musicians who play historical instruments. The program chosen by Faust was also very unusual: a first part quartets (a training barely frequented by her in the past) and a heavy weight of chamber music, the Octet by Franz Schubert, in the second. The pieces chosen at the start of the concert (the Trifles op. 9 by Anton Webern and the Quartettsatz, also from Schubert) are not a conventional choice, much less so is the decision to frame the second by a double interpretation of Webernian miniatures.

Lorenzo Coppola, who spoke on behalf of the group, read part of the prologue written by Arnold Schönberg when the op was edited. 9 of his student, also partially reproduced in the program notes: “Think about what moderation is required to express yourself as soon as possible. Every look can be expanded in a poem, every breath in a novel. (…) These pieces can only be understood by those who believe that something that can only be said with sounds admits being expressed with sounds ”. Small textual trifles in themselves. Webern's works benefit as few from a repeated and close audition in time and, surely, none of those who filled the Chamber Hall of the National Auditorium yesterday heard the Trifles similarly the first and the second time. Among other things, because the six pieces are formed by only 10, 8, 9, 8, 13 and 9 bars, respectively. They are minimal, elusive, fleeting aphorisms (some elongated only because their author prescribes that they play "very slow" or "extremely slow"), which require a maximum concentration by instrumentalists and listeners. Webern also populates his score with almost more dynamic indications and tempo what notes, so it is to imagine a hard previous work by Faust, Schreiber, Waskiewicz and von der Goltz to assemble these six pieces on which Webern himself confessed to Alban Berg: “I had the feeling that once the twelve notes (of the chromatic scale) had been played, the piece was finished ”. Upon hearing them, dodecaphonism seems an almost inevitable next step.

The interpretation was fundamentally analytical and the main interest of his proposal was based on the wide range of thymic iridescence, very worked without doubt in the essays. There was perhaps a greater conceptual unity, both of each of the pieces and of the group as a whole, and, by referring to well-known interpretations, and that have made history, we hear a version closer to that of the Italian Quartet than to that of the LaSalle Quartet, although the use of gut strings placed the sound result far from one and the other. Faust didn't even exercise primus inter pairs, something habitual in it, not at all prone to individualities or to assume ostensible leadership. Place in the middle of the triad the Quartettsatz Schubert was a wise decision, not only because Webern loved and transcribed the music of his countryman, but because this incomplete work, a torso of a quartet that never came to an end, has much of the Webernian spirit: for its conciseness and for a certain premonitory air of future conquests. The most stark sound of gut strings and a very restrained use of vibrato (He had been somewhat more generous in Webern) also contributed to the formation of a markedly modern and diaphanous Schubert.

Exactly this same group of interpreters recorded a couple of years ago the Schubert Octet for the record label (Harmonia Mundi) to which Faust has remained faithfully faithful since the beginning of his career. Even so, Coppola spoke at the beginning of the second part of the enormous enjoyment that the rehearsals in Madrid have given them these days in this reunion with the work and his incessant search for "colors." There were several details that could not go unnoticed by any attentive observer: when Isabelle Faust had the slightest start of leadership, of auctoritas, the interpretation ascended several integers (as it happened in the coda of the first movement); Anne-Katharina Schreiber is an extraordinary violinist, the ideal companion for any first violin, but more personal flashes were missed: such modesty is not always the best ally; Danusha Waskiewicz, a very experienced chambermaid, was, as had already happened in the first part, in excess of crouching and with hardly any individualized sound presence; right at the opposite extreme, Kristin von der Goltz (sister of Gottfried, the founder, concertmaster and co-director of the Baroque Orchestra of Freiburg) is a force of nature: he frequently plays without looking at the score with an enviable ease and amazing technical ease , is aware of everything that happens around him, crosses glances and winks with the instrumentalist twinned with her at all times and, shortly after he left her, would direct everyone with the same sufficiency and self-confidence with those he plays; James Munro wasted sobriety and security on the double bass, although both he and Javier Zafra at bassoon were a little obscured in the grave area by the overwhelming and enthusiastic translation of the cello part; Lorenzo Coppola is a musician of enormous finesse, always expansive and always aware of the color of his instrument (or perhaps instruments, in the plural, because they were two at yesterday's concert), and he was the only one who dared to introduce small notes of improvisation, as in the mini-trend that introduced, very pertinently, at the end of the sixth variation of the fourth movement; and, finally, Teunis van der Zwart, is simply the best natural trumpet player today, a virtuoso who combines the highest technique and greatest musicality: his mastery of an instrument that does not make things easy, and more with a writing as demanding as Schubert's, did not cease to amaze us throughout the Octet.

The version was edged, unpleasant, premonitory of the last Schubert and consciously stood far from conventional readings with modern instruments. The best probably came in the Adage, from prodigious phrasing from beginning to end, and in the last movement, in which everyone unraveled in some way (psychologically, the concert closures invite it, finally revealing all the letters) and where Isabelle Faust showed of a delicate virtuosity always tempered by its null desire for prominence. It seemed the ideal end of a different concert, but it must be admitted that the tip, although unnecessary, could not be better chosen: the third of the Five Minuets with six Trios, D. 89 of Schubert (originally for string quartet), admirably transcribed for the same template as the Octet by the Franco-Argentine composer Óscar Strasnoy. It is a work of 1813, eleven years earlier, therefore, to which it had preceded it, but which, in some way, already seems to presage: the first Schubert, with sixteen years, pointed to the visionary author who died just after transferring The thirty. The next appointment with Isabelle Faust, this time alone, is on November 4 in the Auditorium 400 of the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum. No one should miss it: there it will monopolize, even if she doesn't like it, all the lights.

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