Monday, November 18, 2019

"Wind & Transience" - readings of poems of Thomas Bernhard together with music performed by Manuela Maria Mitterer and Valentin Malanetski at the Willy Brandt Center, Jerusalem

Valentin Malanetski (photo: Rima Shahin)
Manuela Maria Mitterer (photo: Rima Shahin)

“Wind and Transience”, taking place at the Willy Brandt Center, Jerusalem, on November 11th 2019, was an evening of poetry of Thomas Bernhard presented with music by the two young artists of the “Reverse Universe” duo - Manuela Maria Mitterer (recorders, readings) and Valentin Malanetski (live electronics, keyboard, percussion). The event was a collaberation between the Willy Brandt Center and the Austrian Cultural Forum, Tel Aviv. Mr. Arno Mitterdorfer, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Tel Aviv, welcomed artists and audience, opening the event with a few words on Thomas Bernhard. With 2019 marking 30 years of the writer’s death, Mr. Mitterdorfer spoke of Bernhard’s important role of “rubbing salt into the wounds” of Austria’s past and as an extraordinary example of the power of art bringing the past to the future.  


Novelist, poet, and playwright Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) was one of the greatest German-language writers of the latter half of the 20th century. Writing just a few years after the end of World War II, he became known for his outspoken criticism on society and politics; his controversial plays triggered some of the biggest cultural scandals of the 20th century. He began his career in the early 1950s as a poet. Over the ensuing ten years, he wrote thousands of poems, publishing four volumes of intense- and increasingly personal verse with such titles as “On Earth and in Hell”, “In Hora Mortis” and “Under the Iron of the Moon”.  Bernhard’s poems are rooted in the Austrian countryside where he and his ancestors were born, lived and died. As his poems saw publication and recognition, Bernhard seemed to be on the verge of joining the ranks of other young post-war poets writing in German, but his writing ran into strong condemnation in his home country for its biting criticism of Austria’s role in the rise of Nazism. He consequently denied permission for his work to be published in Austria until the copyright ran out, which was long after he had died.


“We know nothing” opens the event, with Mitterer’s first notes recorded and echoed by Malanetski, as the artists take the listener into the bleak inner world of Bernhard’s mind, set against the background of the Austrian countryside. “I am destroyed. Let me die now and blow in the wind” is followed by recorder-blown effects suggesting howling winds accompanied by ghostly rattling effects produced by the recorder keys, to be joined by a dark, disturbing electronic background sound punctuated by the sound of the cymbal.  “When snow and wind come too late” prompts modal music, wonderfully shaped on sopranino recorder and organ. Articulate and eloquent, Mitterer’s reading of English translations of several of Bernhard's poems (two were read in German) offer haunting and evocative representation of the writer, a man burdened by waves of self-pity, fury at a callous universe, burdened with a lack of faith in human relationships and estranged from his country. Threaded in between the readings we hear works of Guillaume de Machaut, Giorgio Tedde (b.1956), Hitoshi Nakamura (b.1967), Malanetski and Malanetski-Mitterer as well as improvisations inspired by the poems and the composed musical works. Mitterer is as at home with early music as she is with the most contemporary of styles and its myriad of techniques and effects. Moving from recorder to recorder, her playing literally illustrates the poems, as Malanetski skilfully merges an understated, economical use of percussion instruments and live electronics to create canons, clusters, ostinatos and soundscapes, drawing together all the threads of the evening’s contents into a rich, disturbing but captivating journey. Polished and profound, the young, go-ahead artists offered the audience the rare opportunity of experiencing the poetry of brilliant (and disruptive) Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, widely regarded as one of the most innovative and original authors of the 20th century, together with its repercussions in their own unique musical language. 


Recorder player and baroque oboist Manuela Maria Mitterer regularly performs both solo- and chamber music in concerts taking her to Russia, Slovenia, Croatia, Great Britain, Spain and Italy. She plays the recorder in the La Folia Barockorchester (Robin Peter Müller) and Baroque oboe in the Croatian Baroque Ensemble (Laura Vadjon). Alongside her expertise in early music, new music also plays an important role in the projects and repertoire of her work as a young musician. In 2014, she won the International Music Competition (Slovenia). Mitterer studied under Dorothee Oberlinger, Walter van Hauwe, Matthijs Lunenburg and Andrea Guttmann at the Mozarteum University (Vienna) and is now taking studies in Baroque oboe with Andreas Helm at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna. The Lyra Foundation (Switzerland) has awarded Manuela several scholarships. 


Valentin Malanetski’s artistic projects range from piano and harpsichord performance (solo, chamber music) to live electronic music productions and composition. Studying piano, harpsichord and music pedagogy at the multifaceted Mozarteum University in Salzburg, his interests lie in a multitude of musical styles, from choral Renaissance- to contemporary electronic music. He seeks to put together interesting and engaging programs, mainly by collaborating with colleagues on unusual repertoire or performance formats. Trained in the classical music tradition, he still regards classical music as central to his musical being and the starting point for his own music. In developing his compositional style, he combines the influences of contemporary- and folk music (also jazz/rock) with the clarity of musical styles of the past. Malanetski integrates acoustic sounds with vocal- and recorded elements, with electronic effects and sounds, in order to create physical, visual and auditory sensations.


No comments: