Dortmund Konzerthaus celebrates György Kurtág in five concerts between 2 and 6 February 2020. The series Zeitinsel (Time Island) reviews the output of “the last living great composer of the 20th century.” Besides vocal and instrumental chamber music, the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Orchestra performs Grabstein für Stephan, a work for guitar and instrument groups, as well as Stele for big orchestra. Such experienced performers of Kurtág’s music will contribute as the Arditti String Quartet, playing four quartets by Kurtág, or Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who blends piano pieces of the Games with Bach. Caroline Melzer will sing Scenes from a Novel and other songs.
A special event is dedicated to Benjamin Appl, where the star baritone sings Hölderlin-Gesänge, an opus rarely heard, twice in one evening. Appl came to Budapest in early May to work together with Kurtág on the interpretation. The experience of the time spent with Kurtág was summarized by Appl: I got an impression of a universally educated and sophisticated man. He has all this knowledge in his pack, he has all the songs of the repertoire, and literature, and history present in his mind. And he expresses it all in just one line in music, or in an interval. And behind each interval, every single mark in the score there is a huge mountain. It was wonderful within these four days I could spend with him, to be able to open a door and to look behind it; not seeing the whole ocean of his knowledge but only seeing tiny glimpses of light coming through. I’m just thinking on a new program where I could put Hölderlin-Gesänge next to Kerner-Lieder by Schumann as I found out the Justinus Kerner was looking after Hölderlin for a short while in Tübingen. This coupling would mean that one has texts dealing with mental health by Kerner and texts by Hölderlin who was declared mentally ill but who probably understood more of life and universe than “healthy” people usually do.