Haas Violin Concerto premiere


I just returned from Japan, where I gave the world premiere of a new violin concerto by the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Georg is one of the great artists of our time and a wonderful warm person and friend. His music has meant so much to me since meeting him eight years ago and performing his music for him – his solo violin piece “de terrae fine” and several of his chamber works. I’ve since played “de terrae fine” many times, and others of his pieces. I was beyond thrilled when he said, after hearing the release concert for my album including “de terrae fine”, that he wanted to write a violin concerto for me to play. I’m so moved and honored to have this piece dedicated to me. Our premiere performance in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall received very enthusiastic response from lots of people and many curtain calls…

Prior to the concert, I wrote:
“Georg Friedrich Haas’ music has revealed new dimensions of musical meaning and an astonishing richness of expression conveyed in the exquisite distances between notes, in powerfully pulsating harmonies, and in the accumulation and contrast of surprising sound-colors. While the innovative compositional aspects are fascinating, what has excited me most about his work is its profoundly moving and visceral impact and the deep psychological and emotional sources that he connects to with his music.”

The concerto is highly microtonal and in nine continuous sections: Praeludium-Kadenz-Resonanz und Feedback-Dreistimmige Invention-Sgraffito-Sotto voce-Interludium-just intonation-Aria. A section of the piece evokes the violin concerto by Alban Berg, who dedicated his concerto “to the memory of an angel”. I don’t consider names so significant but, having discussed both our family histories with Georg, I do of course think of my Viennese grandfather – Erich Engel – who fled Austria to England and then Australia in the 1940’s. 

The concerto was co-commissioned by the Suntory Festival and the premiere was with the excellent Tokyo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov. I learned it in a few weeks and we had three rehearsals. I also played “de terrae fine” on the portrait concert of Georg’s chamber music a few nights later. Photos below! The next performance will be in July 2018 with the Staatsorchester Stuttgart and Sylvain Cambreling.

 

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