Violinist Antje Weithaas and the Camerata Bern recorded the Violin Concerto and the String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat minor (arranged for string orchestra) by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky. “I wanted to record Tchaikovsky for several reasons. Most importantly, I love Tchaikovsky’s music, particularly the two works featured on this recording,” says Antje Weithaas, violinist and leader of the Camerata Bern. It was a risky venture to record the Violin Concerto without a conductor. “Such projects can only succeed when the soloists and the orchestra know one another very well, as is the case with myself and the Camerata,” explains Antje Weithaas. Being able to make music together in such an intimate atmosphere is „a luxury“.
Antje Weithaas has recorded a CD with Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, violoncello and Martin Helmchen, piano (Alpha Classics, release: October 2017)that includes Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2, D. 929, along with his “Arpeggione” sonata (with cello and piano).
This recording has been awarded with the “Diapason d’Or” (December 2017).
“This recording deserves a place among the best” (Jury rating).
The “Diapason d’Or” is a recommendation of outstanding (classical) music recordings given by reviewers of the French music magazine Diapason. It is broadly equivalent to “Editor’s Choice” or “Disc of the Month” in the British Gramophone magazine.
She makes no bones about who she is, doesn’t push her way to the fore or seek the limelight in order to make a spectacular appearance. And precisely because of this, Antje Weithaas, born in 1966, is one of the most sought-after, characterful and striking violinists of our time.
Anything and everything she plays on stage or recordings is regularly described by critics as outstanding, “breathtaking”, intensive, technically and tonally brilliant. Weithaas’s interpretations and concert programming have even taken on benchmark status. Her ideas, her intensity and her unique style all contribute to her high reputation. Now, just a few weeks ago, the third and final album of her Bach-Ysaÿe trilogy was issued, while she can been seen and heard with various programmes till mid-2018 in countries including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Spain and Poland.
With this CD, the violinist Antje Weithaas concludes her recording of all the sonatas and partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach and Eugène Ysaÿe.
It greatly surprises her that no one has previously brought these two cycles together as systematically as she has done here, even though such an idea seems rather obvious: “The relationships are so strong! Now, I always combine these two composers in my solo recitals. It’s a completely new experience for the audience as well. They mostly come because they love Bach. And then they discover Ysaÿe. After Bach, their ears are opened for Ysaÿe’s subtleties – and after that, they hear more in Bach’s works than they did at the beginning.”
Critics have been enthusiastic from the very outset: “Her always technically flawless and musically intelligent and fascinating [Bach] interpretation is simply unassailable. But this Ysaÿe fills me with enthusiasm. Here, a new level is added to the technical and musical virtuosity of the violinist: that of tone colour. There is only a mere breath between luminous brilliance and shadowy sotto voce, between lyrical cantabile and screaming furioso – Weithaas switches from one to the other with lightning speed, turning Ysaÿe into an Expressionist painting in the process” (SWR2 about Vol. 1). And the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote about the second CD: “A splendid Bach-Ysaÿe edition”.
Antje Weithaas started her three-album Bach-Ysaÿe project in 2012. “I am very grateful to have been able to spend so much time working intensively on these two important œvres for solo violin for so many years. Who would normally have such a privilege?!”
On 13 May 2016, Antje Weithaas, Oliver Schnyder, piano, and the Camerata Bern played the double concerto for violin, piano and orchestra in D minor at the “Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte”. The recording is now available online.
For many years, Antje Weithaas has impressed us “with her incredible technique and an unparalleled musical superiority and understanding”, according to the Berliner Zeitung two years ago. She naturally creates music “from the deepest core” and is always exemplary.
In the 2016/17 season, the Professor of the Berlin College will complete both of her two already celebrated CD projects. For her 50th Birthday the virtuoso will be giving a concert at the Berlin Concert Hall with the Camerata Bern, with herself conducting, where the programme will include a first performance of a Cyrill Schürch piece, among others. Further highlights of this passionate artist’s anniversary year are a tour of Norway with the ensemble in January 2017, as well as numerous chamber concerts, including a performance from a piano trio.
“I can’t listen to this concerto any more. Could it be that I have written only this one concerto?” Bruch complained about his Violin Concerto No. 1. And this work is indeed by far Bruch’s most popular. The violinist Antje Weithaas has taken it upon herself to make his other works for violin and orchestra better known as well, and this third CDEntwürfe cpo-Cover 08-2016_cover.indd of the series completes the challenge. In addition to Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 3, Antje Weithaas has recorded on this Vol. III his Romanze op. 42 as well as the Konzertstück in F Minor op. 48.
cpo // 3126654 // CD release in Germany: 23 August 2016
Antje Weithaas starts her 2016/2017 season with an anniversary concert at the Nikolaisaal in Potsdam (2 September 2016, 7:30pm) to celebrate the 15th birthday of the Kammerakademie Potsdam. Other musical congratulators will be Maximilian Hornung (violoncello) and Avi Avital (mandolin).
Founded in 2001, the Kammerakademie Potsdam (KAP) is the resident orchestra of Potsdam’s Nikolaisaal as well as the leading chamber orchestra in the state of Brandenburg. In 2015, the orchestra was awarded the ECHO Klassik prize in the “Ensemble/Orchestra of the Year” category for its recording of Franz Schubert’s Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4. Together with Antonello Manacorda, the orchestra’s conductor, KAP has made a name for itself with high artistic quality, stylistic interpretation, diverse programming and refreshing musicality.
Programme of the anniversary concert:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Ouverture to the opera „Così fan tutte“ K. 588
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor (arranged for mandolin)
Jacques Ibert: Concerto for Violoncello and winds
Pablo de Sarasate: „Carmen-Phantasy“ for Violin and Orchestra op. 25
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Symphony No. 3 in A minor op. 56 “Scottish”
Eugène Ysaÿe sketched out his six sonatas for solo violin in just 24 hours, after hearing a concert by the violinist Joseph Szigeti in which the latter played the G Minor Sonata BMV 1001 by Johann Sebastian Bach. The 65-year-old Ysaÿe dedicated each of his op. 27 sonatas to a different violinist – he portrayed their characters in the sonatas, but also showed whom he ideally wanted as interpreter for each work.
Johann Sebastian Bach can be clearly felt as a model in many passages in Ysaÿe’s sonatas, whether in the relationship between major and minor, in note-for-note quotes or in the movements’ structures. However, whereas Ysaÿe’s op. 27 sonatas are full of the sagacity of age, Bach’s sonatas and partitas are very early works. Bach was just 31 years old when he composed these masterpieces of the violin literature. But they still capture “the whole of life in its unbelievable complexity,” says Antje Weithaas.
Recording Ysaÿe’s sonatas together with the solo sonatas and partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach, thus placing them in direct contrast with one another, was Antje Weithaas’ own idea. “The Bach works are very well known. But those by Ysaÿe? He is always being put in the virtuoso category, but also always wanted to be considered a serious composer. And in my eyes, he is!”
On 23 March 2016, Antje Weithaas will be a studio guest at BBC Radio 3 In Tune. She will talk about her new CD, the second part of her Bach-Ysaÿe-Trilogy, which will be released on 15 April 2016. She will also perform live at the studio. Look forward to hear some excerpts from Bach’s second Partita for Violin solo and the fourth movement of the second Sonata by Ysaÿe.
You can listen to it online (livestream). Additionally, the interview and the performance will be available as ‘audio on demand’ for 30 days after the broadcast at BBC Radio 3 In Tune’s website.