Jörg Wid­mann

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Wid­mann Vi­ola Con­certo

An­toine Ta­mestit (vi­ola); Signum Quar­tet, Bavar­ian Radio Sym­phony Or­ches­tra/ Daniel Hard­ing

Har­mo­nia Mundi HMM902268 JURY AWARD

If writ­ing a con­certo for the vi­ola wasn’t a chal­lenge enough, Jörg Wid­mann has pushed the in­stru­ment to its tech­ni­cal and the­atri­cal ex­tremes in his fiery new work. It opens with the vi­o­list ap­pear­ing from within the or­ches­tra, hit­ting the wood of the in­stru­ment be­fore em­bark­ing on more than ten min­utes of pizzi­cato. When vi­o­list An­toine Ta­mestit first read through Wid­mann’s score, his first re­ac­tion was an in­cred­u­lous ‘Will the pizzi­cato ever stop?!’. In fact, the bow of the vi­ola doesn’t get used un­til half­way through the piece, at which point the soloist bran­dishes it above him like a sword.

Ta­mestit com­mis­sioned the con­certo, work­ing with Wid­mann to ex­plore fully his in­stru­ment’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. ‘In many vi­ola con­cer­tos, you see the soloist but don’t hear them much,’ says Wid­mann. ‘I tried to write a vi­ola con­certo where you can hear every note of the soloist.’

The con­certo is a show­case of not just the vi­ola but every sec­tion of the or­ches­tra, even bring­ing the bass flute to the fore along­side sparse in­stru­men­ta­tion. ‘The bass flute and vi­ola are of­ten cov­ered up by other or­ches­tral in­stru­ments be­cause of their frag­ile tim­bres, so I wanted to fo­cus on them,’ says Wid­mann.

In ad­di­tion, the vi­ola player moves through the or­ches­tra – which you can hear on this pre­miere record­ing – cre­at­ing di­a­logues with dif­fer­ent sec­tions. ‘It’s a very phys­i­cal record­ing,’ says Wid­mann. And Ta­mestit de­liv­ers it with fe­roc­ity and panache. Drama king: com­poser Jörg Wid­mann

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