Violin

Carolin Widmann

©Lennard Ruehle

Introduction

A wonderfully versatile musician, Carolin Widmann’s activities span the great classical concerti, new commissions specially written for her, solo recitals, a wide variety of chamber music and, increasingly, period instrument performances, including play/direction from the violin.

The 2016/17 season gets off to an exciting start with the release of Ms Widmann’s latest recording for ECM Records: Mendelssohn and Schumann concerti with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.  Other season highlights include débuts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Irish Chamber Orchestra (Mendelssohn), Orquestra Sinfonia do Estado de São Paulo and Stavanger Symphony (Anderson) as well as Nuremberg Philharmonic (Ligeti).  Carolin Widmann will also play the première of a new violin concerto by Michael Zev Gordon with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo.

The 2015/16 season began with Ms Widmann’s return to the Philharmonia Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi with the Alban Berg concerto, with which she has a particular affinity, with concerts in London, Berlin and Prague. Other season highlights included concerts with the Vienna Radio Symphony, Munich and Zurich Chamber Orchestras, Beethoven Triple Concerto with Hamburg Philharmonic, a solo recital at Wigmore Hall and at Teodor Currentzis’s Diaghilev Festival in Perm, Russia.

Carolin Widmann was born in Munich and studied with Igor Ozim in Cologne, Michèle Auclair in Boston and David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Since 2006, she has been professor of violin at Leipzig’s University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy”.

Carolin Widmann plays a G.B. Guadagnini violin from 1782.


Contact



Performance Schedule

Performance Schedule

Discography

  • 03 Feb 17 MICHAEL ZEV GORDON Violin Concerto (World Premiere): 03 February 2017
    More info  

    with the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Sakari Oramo, Barbican.

    “The work calls for the soloist to spend a lot of time in the stratospheric reaches of the violin, but even when Widmann digs into her instrument she still creates rapturous tone.”
    **** Ivan Hewett & John Allison, The Telegraph, 06 February 2017

    “Carolin Widmann was on the composer’s wavelength throughout. Her ability to maintain concentration and tonal focus across long, winding lines, ranging freely across the instrument’s range, was clearly a source of inspiration, and a key to the success of this performance.”
    **** Gavin Dixon, theartsdesk.com, 04 February 2017

  • 28 Oct 16 Mendelssohn Concert: 28 October 2016
    More info  
    with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & ALEXANDER SHELLEY, Cambridge Corn Exchange.
    “Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor for violin followed and Carolin  Widmann showed why she is so highly rated. The pitch and tone of her 18th century Guadagnini violin came over beautifully as did her astonishing hand speed. It earned her a rapturous ovation and her encore was a Sarabande by Bach.”

    Jon Aveling, HCR, 7 November 2016

  • 27 May 16 Anderson CD Jurowski conducts Anderson
    More info  

    with London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

    “The sumptuous In lieblicher Bläue (2015) for violin and orchestra is the standout
    piece here, given a reading by its dedicatee Carolin Widmann that is so supple,
    considered and committed that it’s hard to believe it’s a live capture of the
    work’s very first performance (reviewed in the June 2015 issue).”
    David Kettle, The Strad, 20 May 2016

  • 12 Apr 16 Alban Berg Violin Concerto
    More info  

    with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra & Christoph von Dohnanyi.

    “The program also marked the Australian debut of German violinist Carolin Widmann, who has performed the Berg concerto with Dohnanyi and the Philharmonia.  She proved the perfect soloist in this exquisite work by perhaps the most approachable of the serialist composers of the Second Viennese School.  Widmann demonstrated superb composure, accuracy and taste in this performance and hopefully she will return so Sydney audiences can hear more of her.”
    Daily Telegraph (Australia)

    “Widmann’s reading of Alban Berg’s last completed work, his Violin Concerto, sounded deeply emotional – almost romantic. Her playing was powerful when needed (for example, in much of the Allegro’s pseudo-cadenza), but also, quietly serene in the appropriate places: for several minutes at the beginning of the first movement, she refrained from vibrating any note, producing a transparently pure sound quality, as she allowed the famous open strings motif and its transformations to soar and decline. These colours may well have been on the composer’s mind when he wrote on the title page: “in memory of an angel”.”
    Zoltán Szabó, Bachtrack

  • 01 Oct 15 Alban Berg Violin Concerto
    More info  

    with the Philharmonia Orchestra & Christoph von Dohnanyi.

    “And so Carolin Widmann and the Philharmonia’s performance was a revelation. Expressive, warm, rich, terrifying, menacing, explosive, even moments of humour; this was a full-blooded exploration of the gamut of human emotion. Dohnányi pulled out textures and opened up the work, showing and communicating a deep understanding of its complexity as well as its expressiveness. Widmann devoured the music with total ardour, switching between warm, rich, dark, lyrical and folky tones with ease. The entry of the chorale melody midway through the second movement felt completely organic, as did its transition to the original Bach realisation on the woodwinds. The melting of the soloist into the main body of the first violins towards the end was particularly lovely too.”
    Bachtrack

  • 30 Sep 15 Pisendel / Bach ZURICH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA / STEPHAN MAI
    More info  

    with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra & Stephan Mai.

    “… her tone cuts like a fine blade and then fades away, makes the music sound like a memory and also like composed defiance.”
    Tagesanzeiger

  • 17 Jun 15 Julian Anderson In Lieblicher Bläue
    More info  

    “Soloist Carolin Widmann played this demanding score with tremendous energy and involvement, bending and weaving as her violin countered the communal shrieks from the orchestra. Her command of the instrument is remarkable, right down to the extended techniques the score requires.
    The title and concept of this new piece, jointly commissioned from Morlot’s former teacher in London by the Seattle Symphony, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, are derived from a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin. It’s not a traditional violin concerto; it has elements of a symphonic theater piece, in which the soloist starts playing offstage, uttering exploratory twitters and chirps, and gradually moves toward the center stage. In some respects, “In lieblicher Bläue” (“In lovely blue”) then pits the soloist against the entire orchestra in an uneven struggle that gradually subsides, as the violinist ventures a more lyrical response to the overwhelming and colorful panoply of sounds, and ultimately turns her back on the audience.”
    Seattle Times

Repertoire

Hans Abrahamsen

Double concerto for violin, piano and string orchestra

 

Julian Anderson

In Lieblicher Bläue

 

Thomas Adès

Concentric Paths

 

Bach

Violin concerto E major

Violin concert A minor

Double concerto for two violins

Double concerto for oboe and violin

 

Bartók

Violin concerto No. 2

 

Beethoven

Violin concerto

Triple concerto for piano, violin, cello

 

Alban Berg

Violin concerto ‘Im Andenken eines Engels’

 

Brahms

Violin concerto

Double concerto for violin and cello

 

Bruch

Violin concerto No. 1

 

Dvorak

Violin concerto

 

Pascal Dusapin

Aufgang

 

Morton Feldman

Violin and Orchestra

(recorded for ECM Records)

 

Anders Hillborg

Violin Concerto

 

Korngold

Violin concerto

 

Ligeti

Violin Concerto

 

Mendelssohn

Violin concerto in E minor

Violin concerto in D minor

 

Mozart

All solo concerti

Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola

Haffner Serenade

Rondo in C major

 

Prokofiev

Violin Concerto No.  1

Violin Concertos No. 2

 

Wolfgang Rihm

‘Coll’Arco’

Triple Concerto (Fremdes Licht for soprano, clarinet, violin)

 

Rebecca Saunders

Still

 

Schumann

Violin concerto

 

Sibelius

Violin concerto

CD Reviews

Mendelssohn/Schumann,
Carolin Widmann/Chamber Orchestra of Europe (ECM Records)

“Alternative Album of the Year”
“Carolin Widmann, with the most penetrating, unfussy account of the Mendelssohn concerto I have heard in years. Normally blazed away with an excess of swagger and bravura, the concerto is taken by Widmann with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe back to its intimate origins in the Mendelssohn parlour, played as domestic conversation and communication. So much pleasure, so much pain. A recording to last a lifetime.”
Norman Lebrecht, Musical Toronto

Morton Feldman
Carolin Widmann/Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra  /  Emilio Pomarico (ECM Records)
“This performance is perfectly judged: Carolin Widmann is a fabulously assured and poetic soloist, taking minute care over the smallest, apparently most insignificant details, and Emilio Pomarico ensures that the orchestral playing is equally refined and scrupulous. It’s a beautiful, haunting disc.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 16th May 2013

“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.”
Tobias Fischer/tokafi

Schubert
Carolin Widmann/Dénés Várjon (ECM Records)
“Violinist Carolin Widmann’s discs for ECM seem to alternate between centuries.  Her fine recordings of the Schumann Violin Sonatas with Dénés Várjon were followed by an outstanding collection that took in Schoenberg, Zimmermann, Feldman and Xenakis.  Now she has gone back to the 19th Century for this equally exceptional Schubert recital with pianist Alexander Lonquich.  The dominant work is the C major Fantasy D934, one of the less familiar of Schubert’s late masterpieces but just as extraordinary a single-movement telescoping of musical form as the more celebrated Wandered Fantasy for piano.
The heart of the work is its central set of variations but it’s the slow introduction which is recapitulated as the fourth of the fifth sections that casts a shadow across the entire work.  The disc is worth hearing just for the way in which Widmann colours that opening alone, reducing her tone to the slenderest thread, minimising her vibrato and gradually breathing life in the work. It’s extraordinary playing, full of imagination and profound intelligence, and just as powerfully effective in the smaller-scale works, the earlier A major Sonata D574 and the rondo in B minor.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 17th February 2012

Interviews and Features

Carolin Widmann talks about her new recording of Morton Feldman’s Violin and Orchestra.