In early October 2020, the renowned Label CAPRICCIO in cooperation with Deutschlandfunk Kultur published a CD with works by Mieczysław Weinberg: The piano soloist Elisaveta Blumina, the GCO Ingolstadt and its principal conductor, Ruben Gazarian are the interpreters of Weinberg’s Piano Quintet op. 18 (arranged for Piano and String Orchestra by Mathias Baier). This release is based on the GKO subscription concert of June 6th 2019 at the Festsaal of the Ingolstadt theater and was also broadcasted back in June 2019 just days after the concert.
Five years after Shostakovich premiered his quintet to turbulent success in 1940, his new 24-years young friend Weinberg premiered one of his own. For the premiere on March 18th, the 27-year old Weinberg got the String Quartet of the Bolshoi and a 30-year old pianist, already famous then, by the name of Emil Gilels. The Quintet op.18 is one of the unequivocally great chamber pieces of that time and it is a superb entry-point into the world of Weinberg. As with any truly great masterpiece, a work like the Piano Quintet benefits and indeed demands many and diverging interpretations. This also includes different versions, such as this arrangement of the quintet for chamber ensemble. The idea is hardly far-fetched: Weinberg arranged several of his own works for chamber orchestra; his friend Shostakovich’s string quartets have popularly lent themselves to such arrangements. It suits the treatment naturally – and the orchestral version, therefore, gives us just one more way to discover and enjoy one of Weinberg’s ingenious gifts to his belated but finally eager public.
The ten concert halls where the WCO performed during its China-Tour 2019 (Photos: Hans Georg Fischer).
As a genuine touring ensemble, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra also leaves its sound traces with an international audience. In February-March 2019, the orchestra was once again on tour under the direction of its former principal conductor Ruben Gazarian, with ten concerts in various regions of China. After stops in Beijing, Huanggang, Changsha, Hefei, Ma’anshan, Nanjing, Zhuhai, Dongguan and Huizhou, the final concert took place in Shanghai. The program of the tour included works by Edvard Grieg, Nino Rota and Gustav Holst.
“Even purists would give in,” wrote the Berliner Zeitung in 2017 about Asysa Fateyeva’s then release “Bachiana,” on which she arranged Bach compositions for the saxophone (together with the WCO Heilbronn and Ruben Gazarian) – an instrument that did not even exist during Bach’s lifetime. On her latest CD, the soloist takes unusual paths once more. This time, again joined by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Ruben Gazarian, she explores the world of carnival, its dramas, characters and ever-surprising human entanglements. According to Fateyeva, the saxophone is perfectly suited for this: “The title ‘Carneval’ describes the spirit of the saxophone. It likes to dress up, try things out, explore different styles and slip into the roles of other instruments.”
After the award ceremony in Berlin (left to right): WKO-Managing Director Madeleine Landlinger, Kathrin Christians and Ruben Gazarian
- For her first CD with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester (WKO) Heilbronn and its artistic director, Ruben Gazarian, flutist Kathrin Christians has received the OPUS KLASSIK award as Newcomer of the Year. The recording was released by Hänssler CLASSIC in 2017.
- OPUS KLASSIK is the new award for classical music in Germany, successor to the Echo-Klassik. The first award ceremony took place at the Konzerthaus in Berlin on Sunday, October 14, 2018.
- In the award-winning recording, the flutist performs concertos by Jindřich Feld und Mieczysław Weinberg and the Adagio by Mikis Theodorakis in an intimate dialog with the Orchestra and its chief conductor. With this recording, the musical partners Christians, Gazarian and WKO Heibronn have brought to life (again) rarely heard items from the flute repertory.
The accolade aired by the German SWR2 radio channel speaks of “joy of making music, virtuosity, and a delirium of sound,” and pizzicato magazine stresses the flutist’s intensity and the excellence of the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn.
For more information, see www.opusklassik.de (in German only)
After sixteen seasons as the artistic director and principal conductor of the WKO Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian conducted his last subscription concert in this capacity on June 13, 2018. It was an all-Beethoven program. Besides the Third Piano Concerto with Lilya Zilberstein as the soloist and – as the crowning conclusion of the evening – the Third Symphony, “Eroica,” the Grosse Fuge, arranged for string orchestra, also occupied a special place in the program: “From the outset of our planning for this significant concert, I knew I would want to include a work in any case that was exclusively written for strings – that is, for the regular forces of the chamber orchestra. The work should not only showcase the WKO in the homogenous glory of its string sound but also be understood as a tribute to the chamber orchestra that had been an integral part of my musical life for so many years. For me, it was a heartfelt joy and honor to direct this nuanced powerhouse of an ensemble,” says Ruben Gazarian.
At the end of the musical part of this memorable evening, the orchestra and its conductor were celebrated with extended standing ovations. In the subsequent official part of the evening, Ralf Peter Beitner, president of the WKO board of trustees, looked back in his speech at Ruben Gazarian’s tenure in Heilbronn. He was followed by Konstanze Felber-Faur, chair of the musicians’ council, who in the name of the ensemble directed moving words at Gazarian. Numerous personal encounters between the grateful audience and the leaving artistic director of the WKO in the lobby of the Harmonie concert hall rounded off a long concert evening.
Here are a review (in German) and a photo gallery of the concert
On June 11, 2018, Ruben Gazarian was awarded the Golden Coin of the city of Heilbronn in a solemn ceremony in the great hall of Heilbronn’s city hall. Lord Mayor Harry Mergel praised the merits the conductor had earned during his sixteen-years’ tenure as artistic director and principal conductor of the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn.
Here is a report from the Heilbronner Stimme daily (in German)