Press Reviews and Other News…

I would like to share two mentions in recent concert reviews, as well as some thoughts on the music I played.

French Program with Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Just ten principals are required for Jean Francaix’s Dixtour, but these are not just any front-desk players, they are SCO front-desk players, not excepting guest leader Sophie Wedell who was outstanding all evening. 

Vox Carnyx, concert in City Halls, Glasgow, on February 25th, 2022

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In February 2022 I traveled to Scotland to play with Scottish Chamber Orchestra as guest concertmaster. Working with this fantastic, versatile orchestra and its chief conductor Maxim Emelyanychev was a deeply inspiring experience for me.

The program was a mix of well-known audience favourites and works that you probably don’t hear very often, such as the aforementioned Dixtuor by Jean Françaix. I absolutely love his music, it is so sparkling and mischievous and lifts my mood every time I hear or play it. Françaix dedicated the piece to the Linos-Ensemble, whose beautiful recording I have added here.

Matthew Passion with the Orchestra of the 18th Century

The big violin solo in the aria „Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder!“ sounded very beautiful as well, interpreted not only authentically but also extremely musically by Sophie Wedell. She succeeded in playing cleanly without distorting the tempo, a miracle in itself… 

De Nieuwe Muze, concert in the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw on April 9th, 2022

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In April 2022 it was finally time to go on tour with J.S. Bach’s Matthew Passion with my own orchestra, the Orchestra of the 18th Century. 

The tour was originally scheduled for Easter 2020 but was postponed by two years due to all possible restrictions for audiences and large choir performances during the pandemic. Even though I had adopted a certain „I’ll believe it when I see it“-mentality over the course of the last couple of years I was hopeful this spring that it would finally happen. Playing this wonderful piece again after such a hiatus was very moving and I enjoyed the tour immensely.

Rehearsing the aria in De Doelen, Rotterdam
Photo: Diederik Rooker

I had the pleasure of leading the second orchestra, which meant playing one of the two arias with solo violin in the second half, „Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder“, accompanying our fabulous bass soloist Peter Harvey.

This virtuosic aria means a lot to me. I find the character of Judas in the piece and in the gospels very puzzling. I often ask myself, what makes him betray his friend and mentor? Why is Peter forgiven, but Judas has to hang himself?

I wonder if Bach himself thought that the narration could have taken a different turn here. The text of the aria, written by Christian Friedrich Henrici, also known as Picander, references the Parable of the Lost Son, who returns home when he regrets his choices and is warmly welcomed by his father – quite a contrast to Judas’ lonesome suicide.

Whenever I play this music, I sense a strong feeling of despair about the fact that his regret and attempts at bargaining are apparently not enough to make treason come undone.

A very old and a very new violin

In both these projects I was supported by my instrument companions – it often feels like my violins deserve half the credit!

For the Matthew passion I played on the violin by Gioffredo Cappa that I currently have on loan from the Jumpstart Jr. Foundation. You can read more about the instrument and its history here and here.

Some of the halls we performed in (such as De Doelen in Rotterdam) were very large. While violins in modern setup are built for these venues, baroque violins were originally intended to be played in smaller settings. With an early setup it can therefore often be challenging to produce a sound that projects enough to fill the space, while at the same time conveying intimacy and subtle colours. 

With the Cappa, however, I feel very much at ease in these situations. Its sound is profound, dark yet clear, and travels effortlessly even across long distances, making it a real joy to play in these halls. 

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work with this special violin. In 2020, I recorded my debut album with Ensemble Arava on it, to be released on July 1st this year. Once the CD is available, I will place some parts of the recording on this website so you can hear how it sounds.

In Scotland I got to experience the other end of the spectrum, if you will.

I recently decided to commission a modern violin from Amsterdam-based violin maker Matthieu Besseling. The instrument will be probably be ready by the end of this year, and until then I am borrowing one of his other instruments. It is a beautiful Guarneri copy built in early 2021 that had not been played much before, so I used my quiet month of January to get to know it better. The gradual awakening of a new instrument is a truly amazing process! It already sounded very promising when I picked it up, but the more I played on it, the more over- and untertones appeared, meaning the sound became more and more rich and colourful. 

The concerts in Scotland were my first time performing on one of Besseling’s instruments, and I am happy to say that not only did I feel very comfortable, but also truly inspired by it.

I look forward to my commissioned instrument being built and will likely share more about the process here towards the end of 2022.

Upcoming CD Release

Ensemble Arava
Nora Matthies, Einat Aronstein, Avinoam Shalev, Sophie Wedell
Photo: Salar Baygan

Meanwhile, the coming months are filled with preparations for the release of Ensemble Arava’s CD „The Habsburg Garden of Eden“ with Brilliant Classics. After eight years of traveling, concerts and competitions we are incredibly excited to finally share our first album!

Ensemble Arava has been my musical home for quite some time now and it is a great privilege to be working with such close friends, not to mention all the wonderful repertoire for voice and violin…

We will launch a crowdfunding campaign at the end of May. Via the crowdfunding page you will be able to order the album as well as many special thank-you-perks, so be sure to check this space for updates! 

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