WIENER GLASHARMONIKA DUO

Christa und Gerald Schönfeldinger

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Christa
Schönfeldinger

Die Welt der Glasklänge eröffnete sich Christa Schönfeldinger Anfang der Neunzigerjahre. Zunächst hat sie nach ihrem Violinstudium in Wien die Orchesterlaufbahn eingeschlagen.

 

Dann ist es ausgerechnet ein Musikrätsel in einer Tageszeitung, welches sie und ihren Mann Gerald auf ein ganz spezielles Instrument aufmerksam werden lässt: die Glasharmonika. Sie wird ihren weiteren künstlerischen Lebensweg bestimmen und führt schließlich zur Gründung des Wiener Glasharmonika Duos.

Heute gehört Christa Schönfeldinger zu den weltweit führenden Glasharmonikavirtuosen.

Sie konnte nicht nur die teilweise überlieferten historischen Spieltechniken auf ein neues Niveau stellen, sondern das Spiel auf der Glasharmonika mit neuen Techniken und zeitgenössischen Musikästhetiken zu ungeahnten klanglichen Wirkungsmöglichkeiten erweitern.

 

Ihr Repertoire reicht von den Standard Werken für Glasharmonika (Mozart, Reichardt, Röllig, Schulz) über Orchester und Opernliteratur (Hasse, Donizetti, R.Strauss, Saint-Saëns) bis zu zahlreichen Bearbeitungen der Klassik bis zur Avantgarde.

Ihre Interpretationen inspirierten zeitgenössische Komponisten zu neuen Werken, wie z.B  Jörg Widmann zu seinem bei der Int. Mozartwoche Salzburg uraufgeführten Werk „Armonica“ mit den Wiener Philharmoniker unter Pierre Boulez.

 

Zahlreiche Einladungen als Solistin und Kammermusikerin führten Sie zu der Eröffnung der Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Musikverein Wien, Salzburger Festspiele, Int. Mozartwoche Salzburg, PROMS Festival Royal Albert Hall, Schleswig Holstein Festival, Carinthischer Sommer, Int. Haydn Tage Eisenstadt,  Philharmonie Berlin, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Bayreuth, Warschauer Herbst, Warschauer Philharmonie, Dresdner Philharmonie, Kennedy Center Suntory Hall Tokio u.A.

 

Zusammenarbeit mit den Wiener und Berliner Philharmonikern, Wiener Symphonikern, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonic Orchestra Tokyo, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Dresdner Philharmonie,  NDR und  hr- Symphonie Orchester, Bruckner Orchester Linz, unter Daniel Barenboim, Kirill Petrenko, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano, Christoph Eschenbach, Franz Welser-Möst, Christoph Thielemann, Fabio Luisi, Sylvain Camberling, John Axelrod, Paavo Järvi u.A.

Interview

PROMS Q&A ... Christa Schonfeldinger

 

I studied violin in Vienna and I’d been playing in Viennese orchestras. One day my husband Gerald (also a violinist) saw the glass harmonica mentioned in a newspaper puzzle, where it explained that it was invented by Benjamin Franklin and that Mozart had composed his final chamber work for it. The description electrified us both.

We heard a short sound sample of the instrument in a museum and we've devoted our musical lives to it ever since.

What first attracted you to the instrument?

Nobody who hears the sound of the glass harmonica can ever forget it. It's hard to describe, but you sink completely inside the sound, We founded the Vienna Glass Harmonica Duo about 25 years ago and over that time we've been exploring new facets of this extraordinary instrument. I didn't have to decide to make the glass harmonica the centre of my musical life, in fact. Instead, the glass harmonica found me and I had no choice but to take on the exciting challenge of becoming a glass harmonica virtuoso.

 

What are the challenges of playing the glass harmonica?

They’re actually the same as with any other instrument. To interpret music well you have to have a perfect mastery of the instrument.

The hardest thing on a glass harmonica is to play fast passages, because glass doesn't produce sound as quickly as a violin string, for example. But, with practice, even that’s possible.

 

How important is it to you to establish a glass harmonica repertoire of our own time?

Very important. It's always been our goal that the glass harmonica should become a concert instrument, and that means being able to play pieces by contemporary composers. Jorg Widmann’s Armonica is a really wonderful work in that respect. The challenge for composers is that they're not familiar with the glass harmonica's playing techniques, but I always work closely with them when they begin composing.

 

How did you work with Jorg Widmann on Armonica?

I first played him Mozart's Adagio K6l7a for glass harmonica and that's what gave Jorg the inspiration for Armonica, The basic idea is that the glass harmonica sound seems to come from nothing and from il comes the sound of the whole orchestra. At the end the glass harmonica takes over again. I’ve played the piece about 35 times now, but I’m still surprised by the incredibly elegant, hidden details in Armonica and by the way Jorg gets new sounds from the orchestral instrumcnls too.

 

How would you describe your relationship in the piece with accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti?

It's always a pleasure to work with Teodoro on Armonica. But, in fact, the instrumental dialogue in the piece isn’t primarily between the two solo instruments - instead it’s between the whole orchestra and the glass harmonica and accordion as a duo.

Interview by David Kettle

 

BBC.CO.UK/PRO MS