»Islands of levity«

The solo flutist of the Staatskapelle, Andreas Kißling, is performing the flute concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg – a highly emotional, musical discovery.
10.02.2017

Mr. Kißling, with Mieczysław Weinberg flute concerto you are introducing a quite unknown composer during the 2nd Evening Recital …

That might be true, but I think that this is changing at the moment. Since the premiere of his opera »Die Passagierin« in 2010 with 42 years of delay at the Bregenz festival people have noticed that Weinberg’s music is worth being rediscovered. That is also the exciting part of our job. Especially when you are playing the flute the main repertoire is defined quite clearly and it is always a challenge to find something new.

Weinberg had a very changeable life. He was born in Warsaw, as jew fled from the Germans to Moscow and was promoted by Shostakovich …

It is very exciting that you can actually hear a bit of Shostakovich’s tone in Weinberg’s music. Still it also is very different, much more sentimental and melancholic. While Shostakovich’s music very often almost physically features his hate towards the Stalin regime, Weinberg choses a different sound. He is more introverted and his grief is omnipresent, but does not lead to anger but to melancholy

Maybe this is because he had to experience one of the greatest tragedies of humanity by losing most of his family in the concentration camps and because Russia seemed to be his salvation at first?

Of course one’s own history as well as the history of the world does influence a human being and therefor also his art. With Weinberg this becomes clear when he intentionally uses jewish music and Klezmer which has shaped him very much. Obviously it is clear that politics always become a part of the private life as well … 

… which even went on in Weinberg’s case. Later he was blamed by the Stalin regime to have propagated a jewish republic in the Krim region. Once again it was Shostakovich who took a stand for Weinberg in a courageous letter …

That is true, but I think that it is part of Weinberg’s art that one cannot simply read the historic details in his music. It is quite hard in general to find political and historical relation within a score. However, in Weinberg’s case these coherences are always present in a way.

Alright, then let us have a look at the score. What do you personally hear in Weinberg’s second flute concerto?

First of all the concerto seems tob e designed very unviruosically with regard to its technique. I would like to summarise the concerto as followed: It contains two slow and one very slow movement, but that is just the surface. At second view it appears that the narrative aspect is the actual virtuosic part of the work because the performer, more than in works of other composers, needs to discover the semantic level behind the score.

What do you mean with that?

I have read a Weinberg quote lately in which he mentioned his astonishment that children who have experienced the horrors of war would still be able – at least sometimes – to blank out their situation in order to live in levity. Having read that, my view of the concerto has changed once again. Especially when I listen to the first movement, which is incredibly beautiful and starts so homely, before it gets intense and the opposite of beauty appears. For me this work is an attempt to tell about the great chaos, but also include little islands of levity where our souls can rest. 

Are the Evening Recitals of the Staatskapelle in the Semperoper an ideal opportunity for programmes like that?

Absolutely! The Evening Recitals are a wonderful tradition and the atmosphere of the concerts is always very special. Maybe that is because all musicians are performing out of their passion and voluntary. I have performed here already when I was new at the Staatskapelle. Back then I performed Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s flute concerto. It is something very special to be soloist and know that all your colleagues are sitting in the orchestra to support you.

Es gibt also eine Kapell-Solidarität? 

So, there is something like a Kapell solidarity?

When you come to another orchestra as soloist it can definitely happen that they look at you searchingly and ask: »Who is that guy?« When you perform with the Kapelle it is absolutely the opposite – every musician is solidary. During the last concert the conductor asked during the reheardsal if wes hall play a passage more slowly, but one colleague immediately answered: »Nonsense, Andreas will be just fine – he can play it exactly the way you want it.« During the break he came to me and said: »No matter how you chose to play it, we will follow you.« Those are really special moments when you realise that your colleagues are so supportive so that you, as a soloist, can perform the music the way you want to. I think that this atmosphere in the orchestra is also transferred tot he audience.

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