Tabea Zimmermann

Live stream - Tabea Zimmermann Soloist

Thu 03/02/2022 19:00 - 21:00
Free entry

Introduction

“When I play together with someone, I want to feel how their soul opens up. I also open my own soul. Then we can face each other as human beings. That's my way of communicating.” Tabea Zimmermann, one of the most respected viola players in the world, joins the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra as Artist in Residence for our spring season.

Zimmermann's relationship with Bélá Bartók's Viola Concerto began as a teenager. In 1995, she received a facsimile of Bartók's drafts for the concerto and began to see the work with new eyes. “I read the drafts over and over again and compared them note by note to all the existing sheet music editions.” In Zimmermann's first residency concert, she performs her own version of the concerto, in which Bartók's tone language receives its purest expression.

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Susanna Mälkki

Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra since 2016 and Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2017, Susanna Mälkki is a regular guest with the world’s most illustrious orchestras and at such opera houses as La Scala, the New York Metropolitan and the Vienna State Opera. From 2006 to 2013 she was Artistic Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris on the invitation of Pierre Boulez and has conducted the premieres of works by many of the greatest contemporary composers. Beginning her career as a cellist and winning the Turku Cello Competition in 1994, she spent three years as principal cello in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Susanna Mälkki is a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in France, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London and a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien in Stockholm.

www.susannamalkki.com

 

Tabea Zimmermann

Tabea Zimmermann says she was practically born into chamber music, having played the viola in a trio with her siblings from the age of three. She was only four when she performed movements from Die Kunst der Fuge with her first quartet. “A career should never,” she nevertheless says, “develop faster than one’s inner growth. Aspects like sound and tonal volume need their time to be developed. This isn’t just a question of the hands and musculature or of techniques. The imagination must develop as well.”

HPO audiences heard Tabea Zimmermann in 2018, in Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher concerto. Dedicated to contemporary music, she has had many works composed specially for her. She often appears with some of the world’s finest orchestras under legendary conductors, and for the past 20 years has passed on her art as a professor at the Hanns Eisler Academy in Berlin. She plays a modern viola made in 1980 by Étienne Vatelot received as a result of winning Maurice Vieux Competition in Paris in 1983.

 

Jean Sibelius: Tapiola, Op. 112

In 1926, Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) was invited by the US conductor Walter Damrosch to compose a tone poem. Happy to accept, he immediately set to work. At first he thought to call it The Wood or The Forest, but finally decided on Tapiola. Because Tapio, the god of the forest and his abode Tapiola in Finnish mythology would not be familiar to foreigners, he attached a poem to the score: “Wide-spread they stand, the Northland’s dusky forests, ancient, mysterious, brooding savage dreams; within them dwells the Forest's mighty God, and wood-sprites in the gloom weave magic secrets.”

The audience at the premiere in New York was a little taken aback, but the Finnish critics, when Tapiola was later performed in Finland, claimed to hear not just wood-sprites but also soaring eagles, hobgoblins and the anguish of the lonely traveller in the wilds. Few appreciated the radical technique employed in the music – the slow, gradual transformation of a motif stated at the beginning.

 

Béla Bartók: Viola Concerto

In autumn 1940, Béla Bartók (1881–1945) crossed the Atlantic to escape the war in Europe. He was not happy there, and no one knew his music until Sergei Koussevitzky commissioned him to write a Concerto for Orchestra. This proved to be a great success and Bartók was inundated with orders. One was from the Scottish violist William Primrose. Bartok eagerly set to work, but he was by then in poor health, and by the time he died in 1945, he had made only some sketches. A student of his, Tibor Serly, used these to produce a version that was premiered in 1949. Bartók’s son Peter made and published another version with violist Paul Neubauer. Though Bartók’s intentions remained somewhat obscure, he is known to have had a fairly short concerto in mind with a virtuoso solo part. Each movement was to begin in the same way, with a solo introduction. The finale includes a quotation from a Scottish tune, maybe as a tribute to Primrose’s Scottish background.

Tabea Zimmermann has often performed the Serly version of the concerto, but after studying Bartók’s own sketches made an edition of her own. In practice this means she has deleted all Serly’s additions and changes to the score.

 

Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) wrote his fourth symphony in 1877. Always self-critical, he wondered whether anyone would ever listen to it once he had left this world. He need not have been pessimistic, for it is still one of his most popular works. Describing it in a letter to its dedicatee Nadezhda von Meck, he explained that the opening fanfare is Fate: “that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from attaining its goal.” The second movement captures “that melancholy feeling that comes in the evenings when, weary from your labour, you sit alone, and take a book”; the third “the elusive images that can rush past in the imagination when you have drunk a little wine”; and the finale “a picture of festive merriment”.

The fate to which Tchaikovsky refers may have been his homosexuality. Some of the motifs, on the other hand, point to the aria in Bizet’s Carmen when she sees her death forecast in the cards. Be that as it may, the symphony also expresses the ultra-romantic idea (which Tchaikovsky admitted having borrowed from Beethoven’s fifth symphony) of victory over adversity.

Artists

Susanna Mälkki
conductor
Tabea Zimmermann
viola

Programme

    19:00
    Jean Sibelius
    Tapiola
    Béla Bartók
    Viola Concerto op. Posthumous
    21:00
    Pjotr Tšaikovski
    Symphony No. 4
Series II
Musiikkitalo Concert Hall
Susanna Mälkki
Tabea Zimmermann
Jean Sibelius
Tapiola
Béla Bartók
Viola Concerto op. Posthumous
Pjotr Tšaikovski
Symphony No. 4