The Recorder Player’s Wimbledon*
*a slightly abridged version of this article was published in the Spring 2012 edition of The Recorder Magazine (http://www.peacockmagazines.com)
A report on the Moeck SRP Recorder Playing Competition 2011
I believe that it was Jeremy Burbidge, publisher of The Recorder Magazine, who first came up with the idea of describing the Greenwich Early Music Festival and Exhibition as the “Wimbledon of Early Music”. This is a great line and remarkably à propos of what this Festival/Exhibition has come to signify in today’s Early Music world and can easily be extended to the prestigious Moeck/SRP Solo Recorder Competition.
The 2011 Festival and competition were both amazing and exciting. There were several “firsts” about the event. This year’s winner, Eva Fegers, is a student of 1997 winner, Dorothee Oberlinger. This year also had one of the youngest finalists of the competition’s history, Yi-Liang Chang, age 19, already a superb technician on his instrument and a refined performer. In a nice touch, the three members of this year’s jury, Matthias Maute, Emma Murphy and Ibi Aziz performed together in a concert held at the St. Alfege Parish Church. These three facts alone gave a sense of continuity and camaraderie to the event and hope for the future of the recorder. There were two other recorder stars in the 2011 Festival as well, Piers Adams, winner of the first Moeck/SRP competition, performed for the first time in the Greenwich festival and a new recorder co-produced by Adriana Breukink, Geri Bollinger and Küng that Piers performed on called the Eagle.
I would like to congratulate the three adjudicators as, in my opinion, they made very intelligent choices in the three finalists as they were each remarkably different stylistically, thereby paving the way for a fascinating excursion through the world of recorder playing today. I don’t know how or who chose the order of appearance of the three finalists, but as it turned out the final judgment came out in exact reverse order so that the whole afternoon and evening was like a crescendo.
So, first, the results of the competition:
1st place: Eva Leonie Fegers
2nd place: Yi-Chang Liang
3rd place: Kerstin Fahr
THE MOECK/SRP 2011 COMPETITION
Born in Germany in 1983, Kerstin studied recorder in Freiburg at the College of Music with Agnes Dorwarth and Michael Form and Baroque violin with Petra Müllejans and Gottfried von der Goltz. In 2008, Kerstin was accepted in the College of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt/Main where she is presently studying recorder with Michael Schneider and violin with Swantje Hoffmann. In February 2010, having passed her artistic degree, she was accepted into the Soloist diploma program. In 2009, she studied with Pierre Hamon at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Lyon on an ERASMUS scholarship. Kerstin Fahr has performed with a variety of ensembles like Concerto Grosso Heidelberg, La Stagione Frankfurt, Capella Academica Frankfurt and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra with which she played the 4th Brandenburg Concerto.
Kerstin’s programme, with the instruments she used in each piece within brackets, was as follows:
- Anonymous (14th c) - Estampie: Principio di virtù [Ernst Meyer 465 Ganassi G-alto]
- Benedetto Marcello - Sonata op. 2 Nr. 4 in E [Ernst Meyer 415 Bressan alto]
- Georg Philipp Telemann - Fantasie Nr 8 G minor [415 Bressan alto - Ernst Meyer]
- Jacques Paisible – Sonata in G [Ernst Meyer 415 Denner alto]
- Moritz Eggert - Ausser Atem/Breathless [Mollenhauer 440 Denner soprano, Ralf Ehlert 440 Bressan Alto, Ernst Meyer 440 Ganassi G-alto]
- Giovanni Adolfo Hasse - Cantata per Flauto B major [Ernst Meyer 415 Bressan alto]
Kerstin began her recital with Medieval estampie Principio di virtù, performed by memory with a distinctive, beautiful sound. After the Istampita, Kerstin was joined on stage by Argentinian harpsichordist, Ricardo Magnus, who accompanied her in the Marcello sonata where Kerstin’s ornamentation was refreshingly calm and lyrical.
Kerstin’s performance of set work, Telemann’s Fantasie No. 8, was excellent, demonstrating a solid command of her instrument and the idiom, with clear and logical phrasing that brought out the polyphonic nature of Telemann’s writing.
In her performance of Paisible’s G Minor Sonata she used the expressive capabilities of her instrument to their fullest extent and her rendition of Moritz Eggert’s - Ausser Atem/Breathless was engaging.
Kerstin and Ricardo Magnus performed together with such a unified intent, and in such an assured and natural manner, that I had the impression that they were seasoned performers who had been playing music together for many years. Ricardo Magnus is assistant to Reinhard Goebel at the Mozarteum and a prizewinner on his instrument. Mr. Magnus’ accompaniment was attentive and completely in sync with Kirsten’s musical thoughts and expressivity.
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Kerstin Fahr
The second contestant was Yi-Chang Liang, born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1992, who is presently studying at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam with Erik Bosgraaf and has won gold medals for both solo and duo playing at the Japanese National Recorder Competition.
Yi-Chang Liang’s programme was as follows:
- Maki Ishii - East Green [Yamaha 440 tenor]
- Georg Philipp Telemann - Fantasie Nr 8 G minor [Takeyama 415 alto]
- Emanuele Casale - Studio 2a [Yamaha 440 bass]
- Toshio Hosokawa - Vertical Song [Yamaha 440 tenor]
- Jacob van Eyck – Comagain [Netsch 440 Renaissance G-alto]
- Jacob van Eyck - Stil, stil een reys [Moeck 440 sopranino]
- Igor Stravinsky - Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo, Piece Nº 3 [Moeck 440 sopranino]
- Jan Rokus van Roosendael – Rotations [Mollenhauer 440 alto]
Yi-Chang appeared in the hall with a relaxed smile and immediately proceeded to take full command by his charismatic stage presence. The 20 seconds of silence preceding Maki Ishii’s evocative East-Green-Spring were so intense that you could have heard a pin drop in the hall.
Then Yi-Chang moved stage right to perform Telemann’s fantasy. The same distinctive, commanding meditative silence before playing, the fact that he shifted the audience’s visual perception and, most of all, his technical command of the music and his instrument proved that he was just as comfortable with Telemann as he was with the contemporary music.
After Telemann, Yi-Chang performed Studio 2a, written in the year 2000 for recorder and live electronics by Italian composer, Emanuele Casale. Here Yi-Chang interacted and swung in a real groove with the complex rhythms and sounds emanating from the pre-recorded sonic sculptures further emphasising his versatility in both the ancient and modern musical aesthetics. He then followed this with yet another modern piece, Toshio Hosokawa’s Vertical Song that ended with Yi-Chang holding the audience captive in the suspended silence that followed the last note until his body language allowed us to applaud, quite unusual for a 19-year-old musician.
For the second time Yi-Chang moved stage right, this time to perform Van Eyck, thereby demarcating that area as ‘Early Music corner’. His performance of Van Eyck’s diminutions of Comagain ended with flawless fireworks of tonguing and fingering. After the fact, I calculated that contemporary music made up 75% of Yi-Chang’s recital and, if you take into consideration the fact that the Telemann fantasy was a required piece, the proportion of the music that he actually chose to perform was more like ten to one in favour of contemporary music. Yi-Chang made a surprisingly smooth medley out of Van Eyck’s Still, still en reys and the 3rd piece of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo making the fiendishly difficult Stravinsky piece sound as easy as Van Eyck’s variations.
After taking a short break so that a dozen music stands could be set-up in a circle, Yi-Chang once again positioned himself centre stage for his final piece, Rotations, by Dutch composer Jan Rokus Van Roosendael, which he performed by reading from all the stands in a circular fashion.
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Yi-Chang Liang
Eva Leonie Fegers
Eva has been studying with Dorothee Oberlinger at the Mozarteum University Salzburg since 2007. In 2005 she was awarded the Zonta Music-Prize for the best interpretation of contemporary music and in 2010 she received the prize for the most audience-grabbing interpretation in the Competition of Contemporary Music at the Mozarteum University.
Eva’s programme was as follows:
- Godfrey Finger a ground in D [Schwob 415 G-alto]
- Georg Philipp Telemann Fantasia no. 8 [De Paolis 415 Denner voice flute]
- Moritz Eggert Ausser Atem/Breathless [Moeck soprano, Blezinger G-Alto, Ehlert alto]
- Jacques-Martin Hotteterre "le Romain” Prélude en G. Ré, Sol, 3ce Mineure. From L ́art de préluder [De Paolis 415 alto]
- Arcangelo Corelli Sonata C major, op.5 no. 3 [Ernst Meyer 415 Denner alto]
- Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Sonata quarta from: Sonatae unarum fidium seu a violino solo 1664 [Schwob early Baroque soprano]
When Eva came onto the stage she lit up the room with her natural charm. She began her recital with a beautiful Ground by Godfrey Finger and I was certainly not the only one who was surprised and intrigued by her rich, strong sound and soulful playing. Eva was superbly accompanied on the theorbo by Swedish lutenist and guitarist, Jonas Nordberg, a star in his own right, who read his music from an iPad using a Bluetooth foot pedal to “turn” the pages.
After the beautiful rendition of Finger’s Ground, Eva played the set piece, the Telemann fantasy, on a Denner voice flute built by Luca De Paolis. In her hands, the instrument had a beautiful, large sound and she played the piece with wonderful contrasts in sound, tonguing and phrasing. In my opinion, her Telemann got the biggest applause of all three candidates.
After her excursion into contemporary music, with her smooth, evocative version of Moritz Eggert’s Ausser Atem, Eva performed one of the two beautiful preludes that are at the end of Hotteterre’s L’Art de preluder, a piece that I’ve very rarely heard performed before in public. It was an excellent choice, as this 3 ½ minute piece seems to have everything in it. At times lyrical, declamatory, dramatic, it’s all there. This piece requires a musical maturity that Eva will no doubt arrive at in the years to come.
In the Corelli sonata I was so amazed by her complex but stylistically correct ornaments, that I thought they might be some of the written-out ornaments by Corelli’s student, Francesco Geminiani, but she later told me that they were all hers [see interview below for more on this].
Eva finished her recital with a spectacular arrangement of Austrian composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer’s Violin Sonata No. 4 from his Sonatae Unarum Fidium. Ms. Fegers’ arrangement was so natural that, while listening to this sonata for the first time, it was hard for me to believe that it wasn’t written for the recorder. I have since acquired the score of this amazing composition (the score can be find on www.imslp.org) and I could see that arranging it was no easy task.
This stylus phantasticus sonata begins with a ground, moves through a sarabande, a gigue, an allegro and a resounding presto finish complete with firework flourishes, some of which were Schmelzer’s and some of which were added by Ms. Feger. Ms. Feger’s flourishes were so good that it was hard to tell where Schmelzer ended and where Ms. Feger began. In Hotteterre, Corelli and Schmelzer Eva was exquisitely accompanied by Hungarian harpsichordist, Margit Kovács.
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Eva Fergers plays a ground by Godfrey Finger
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Eva Fergers plays Corelli (1 of 2)
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Eva Fergers plays Corelli (2 of 2):
Moeck/SRP 2011 recorder competition - Eva Fergers plays Schmelzer:
Interview with Eva Leonie Fegers
DB: What other instruments to do play?
EF: I started to play the violin at the age of 8, later the viola that I continued until I started to study recorder in Salzburg. I also play the piano and chose classical singing as a second instrument at the Mozarteum where I am studying recorder and instrumental education as well.
DB: What degrees do you have in music?
EF: I’ll finish my Bachelor in summer 2012… so, no degrees yet! ;-)
DB: Who were your teachers on the recorder and for how many years did you study with them?
EF: I started to play the recorder at the age of five. I remember that I didn’t want to do anything else. I was playing all the time and everywhere; in the garden, in the kitchen while my mother was cooking, sometimes while I was taking a bath, and I always wanted to become a recorder player. For me, the recorder was definitely the most beautiful instrument.
After some years, in 2000, I changed teachers. Thenceforth I had lessons with Marion Bleyer-Heck (for about seven years) in my hometown until I moved to Salzburg. She is such a great, committed and accurate teacher. And she showed me what recorder-playing means, gave me many recordings, articles etc. When she gave me a recording by Pedro Memelsdorff, I started to realize how beautiful a recorder can sound. Marion Bleyer-Heck is an old friend of Dorothee Oberlinger and introduced me to her quite early. The first time I met Dorothee, at age of 13, was when I went to one of her concerts. I can still remember her performance of commentari III by Dorothée Hahne. I was so impressed and fascinated, and decided from that moment that some day I would study with her.
DB: What, or who, would you say is your major influence in music?
EF: That’s a difficult question for me, because it is not like I have any single idol. For each musical style I listen to different players, to get the feeling for it.
The first recording I listened to was by Frans Brüggen. My father had it on LP and I was gravitated to his playing.
But I guess that Dorothee Oberlinger’s playing has very probably been my major influence for many years, and still is. In every lesson, I get so many musical ideas. Not just the way she plays the recorder part; her way of talking about the music or art in general, the way she moves, her energy and the way she plays the bass teaches you so much.
When I was younger, I took part in several masterclasses with Paul Leenhouts who inspired me a lot, especially in terms of ensemble playing. And of course ensembles like Il Giardino Armonico, Ensemble Romanesca, Hespèrion XX, Accademia Bizantina. As you can see, not only recorder music. I really love French music written for viola da gamba or traverso; pieces for violin or vocal music.
DB: How did you choose the repertoire for the competition?
EF: That took some time. At first I wanted to play a programme with a lot of stylus phantasticus pieces. That’s probably my favourite style at the moment. But there was no possibility to get a second early Italian harpsichord or an organ on stage. So I decided to choose pieces of different styles like French, Italian, English, German as well as Early Baroque, and contemporary music. It was a bit difficult to find those pieces for a 45-minute concert. I was very sure about playing Schmelzer and Breathless but for the other pieces I went to the library to find pieces in each style that had different characters.
DB: Please tell me about your ornamentation in the Corelli sonata. Was it by Geminiani?
EF: I wrote the ornamentation in the Corelli, myself. Of course, I listened to plenty of recordings, the one by Stefano Montanari especially impressed me. For many days I couldn’t stop listening to that recording. I read literature about ornamentation, studied the violin versions and worked on in with Dorothée and my accompanist at the University, Olga Watts. I also took Ornamentation classes at the Mozarteum with harpsichordist Florian Birsak. After processing all this information I learned the slow movements by heart and tried to improvise around the melody. It took a while to get used to it. Sometimes I got absolutely lost! When I liked an ornament, I wrote it down. After a while I had several versions and trying to put them together into one version was at times a bit like a puzzle.
DB: What other influences or insight can you give us about the interpretation of the pieces you performed in the competition?
EF: Many recordings and concerts influenced me – not only of the pieces I played. For example, listening to Francois Lazarevitch playing French music helped me a lot. Listening to smooth Jazz music as well, because you get an impression of liberty, flow and a more relaxed way of making music than I often do.
Another point that influences me a lot is my singing lessons with Prof. Otto Rastbichler. As an instrumentalist, I think there is the danger forgetting to work with our whole body. If you sing, you feel and hear it more directly if you don’t use the whole body or if you behave like you HAVE to practice. In summer we have three months of holidays and it’s great luck, that the nature in and around the city is very beautiful. When I feel like I can’t play anymore I go up to one of the two mountains near the city and just think about the music.
DB: What are next instruments that you’d like to buy?
EF: I’ve just ordered a Renaissance tenor by Monika Musch and another G-alto from Andras Schwob.
DB: What concerts have you done since the competition and what do you have planned for the future?
EF: In December I played some concerts with Hofkapelle München, directed by violinist Rüdiger Lotter. This year I will also be performing the Brandenburg Concertos and Pez concerto with them. I’m looking forward to playing more concerts with my ensemble Tempesta. Jonas Nordberg, theorbo, and Margit Kovács, harpsichord, who both accompanied me in the competition recital, are ensemble members as well as Anne-Suse Enßle (recorder) and Makiko Kurabayashi (Baroque bassoon and dulcian). I will also be performing with the la folia baroque orchestra in Germany, Austria and Slovenia.
DB: What recordings have you done and what recordings are you planning on doing.
EF: Last year I did a recording with Rüdiger Lotter and Hofkapelle München, playing Johann Christoph Pez’s Concerto Pastorale. I’m thinking about a concept for a recording with my newfound ensemble - after the Moeck Competition: with Jonas Nordberg (theorbo), Margit Kovács (harpsichord) and Dieter Nel (Baroque cello).
Interview with Kerstin Fahr
DB: Who were your teachers on the recorder and for how many years did you study with them?
KF: I studied in Freiburg with Agnes Dorwarth and Michael Form & then I went to Frankfurt to continue my studies with Michael Schneider (who is still my teacher). I also did an Erasmus exchange with Pierre Hamon in Lyon. I studied Violin with Gottfried von der Goltz & Petra Müllejans.
DB: What would you describe as your major influence in music?
KF: It is not easy to describe the major influence in music. It is a pleasure for me to play music and it is important for me to present music to other people in playing and teaching. Summing up, I would like to mention a quotation of Pierre Hamon in his interview for Tibia magazine (1/2010) in which he quotes the words of chanson by Guillaume de Machaut: "Musique est une science qui veut qu'on rie et chante et danse..." [Music is an art that likes people to laugh and sing and dance]
DB: Please tell me about how you chose the repertoire for the competition.
KF: With my program I wanted to show the different periods of music for the recorder (Medieval, Baroque, modern) as well as the different styles of the Baroque period. I chose the Paisible sonata because it combines both the English and French styles. The newly discovered sonata by Hasse is very interesting because it has a lot of elements of the Galant style and is an original sonata for the recorder. In this sonata, as well as in the sonata of Marcello, I was able to add Italian-style ornaments for the slow movements. I also felt it important to present works that were originally written for the recorder (Hasse, Marcello, Paisible, Eggert).
DB: Can you give me some more information about the beautiful Hasse sonata that you performed in the competition?
KF: the Hasse Cantata is published in the Edition Musiklandschaften Hamburg, the manuscript is in the New York Public Library and belongs to the collection of the Duke Harrach (1669-1742).
DB: What is the next recorder(s) that you'd like to buy?
KF: I'd love to own my own sopranino in 415'.
DB: What concerts do you have coming up in the future?
KF: Before Christmas I will play Brandenburg 4 with Concerto Grosso Heidelberg and later Telemann’s double concerto for recorder & traverso. In 2012 I will also be giving my final degree recital and will also continue some chamber music projects that I started this earlier this year.
Interview with Yi-Chang Liang
DB: Who were your teachers on the recorder and for how many years did you study with them?
YC: I studied in Taiwan with Mei-Chuan Lin for one year, with Shu-Huei Chen for four years, with Min-Chung Wu for five years and I have now been studying in Amsterdam with Erik Bosgraaf for the past years and a half.
DB: What or who would you say is your major influence in music?
YC: I would say the major influence in my music is by my second teacher Shu-Huei Chen. She taught me when I was in the elementary school, and often, she brought me to concerts with her which enriched my musical knowledge and let me have chance to experience many different kinds of music, including big orchestra, strings ensemble, opera, music theater, jazz band...and so on, which really opened my eyes and had a broader imagination of music and helped a lot with the musical sense at a very young age.
DB: What was the basis for your choice of repertoire for the competition?
YC: Firstly, I wanted to present a variety of repertoire and recorders and based on this thinking, it came out my program finally. For most contemporary pieces, they were suggested by my teacher, Erik Bosgraaf. However, I wanted to play some van Eyck's pieces as well, so I picked up two pieces from his collections which were "Comagain" and "Stil, stil een Reys".
DB: Please tell me something about the electronics that you used in the concert.
YC: Studio 2a was written by Emanuele Casale in 2000 for tape and bass recorder. The counterpoint between the solo part and the recorded is sometimes together and at other times acting upon each other; a dialog between human and machine. That is the idea I wanted to present. For the electronics itself, I used amplification for the recorder and the sound of the playback coming out through the speakers. I did not use any effects, just the recording and the recorder.
DB: Tell me what influenced you most in your interpretative choices.
YC: I play a lot of contemporary pieces. I especially have a lot of feeling for the two Japanese pieces that I played, East-Green-Spring by Maki Ishii and Vertical Song by Toshio Hosokawa. Because of my Asian background I certainly feel something in my blood which recalls a lot of images or senses for those two pieces. I not only want to show the pieces of how technically difficult or complex they are, but what I want to do most is to express the spirit and meaning of the pieces in my oriental language of playing and understanding which I think is the most fascinating and interesting to see. So, what I want to do basically is, through the recorders, to present a full, complete story for the audience to experience and let them feel the beauty of the East.
DB: What's the next recorder(s) that you'd like to buy?
C: Ganassi recorders: a G-alto and a soprano at 415 by Monika Musch.
David Bellugi, adjudicator for the 2007 Moeck/SRP recorder competition, has performed extensively as soloist and as conductor/soloist with orchestras over several continents and has premiered various works written for and specifically dedicated to him by a wide range of contemporary composers. He has recorded film music for Italian composer Ennio Morricone and American composer Michael Galasso. Bellugi's discography includes his innovative CD Landscapes, a virtual orchestra of recorders, described as “a technological and musical tour de force”, many recordings made with the Berry Hayward Consort (Paris, France) as well as other innovative and spirited CDs with Italian accordionist Ivano Battiston. David teaches Recorder and is chairman of the Early Music Department at the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Music in Florence, Italy.