Quintets by the score

German soprano Mojca Erdmann is newcomer to Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival.

Felix Broede (photo credit: Courtesy)
Felix Broede
(photo credit: Courtesy)
According to Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival founder and artistic director pianist Elena Bashkirova, this year’s program is dedicated mainly to quintets – those by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak, Schumann, Brahms, Franck and Shostakovich, together with lesser-known but equally great compositions by composers such as Bartok, Elgar and Ligeti.
Other highlights of the festival include music by Hindemith in commemoration of 50 years since his death, as well as pieces by Britten and Lutoslawski in a celebration of the centenary of their birth.
The roster of artists features the festival’s veteran musicians, both local and international, as well as new names such as renowned German soprano singer Mojca Erdmann.
“I really enjoy being an opera singer,” says Erdmann, who makes her Israeli debut on September 3 and 4 in concerts laden with crowd-pleasing German lieder. “I started singing in a children’s choir, and I also played violin. But when I did my vocal studies and realized that I could become a solo singer, I immediately made up my mind. Because when you sing, there is nothing between you as an artist and your audience, which makes your selfexpression richer. I also enjoy acting, jumping into another personality, and opera is an ideal combination of the two.”
Erdmann became the Komische Oper, Berlin, soloist at only 21 but later launched a freelance career as well.
“It gives me a lot of freedom,” she says. “I perform some 30 evenings a season and about 30 evenings in recitals. For me, it is an opportunity to collaborate with various artists and to create concert programs of my own, not limiting myself to traditional repertoire but also performing contemporary music.”
Erdmann’s operatic career has taken her to the world’s best stages, such as the Metropolitan Opera (New York), Teatro Real (Madrid) and Staatsoper Berlin.
Erdmann confides that Mozart is her favourite composer.
“I grew up on his music from my early childhood. I think it is very honest and reaches straight to your heart,” she says.
But Sophie from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier is no less dear to her than Mozart’s characters.
“The opera in general and the role in particular have been familiar to me since I was eight, when I sang in the Hamburg Opera children’s chorus,” she says. “Sophie is far from naïve, and she stands up to her father, who wants to marry her off to a man she does not love. That was far from usual at the time.”
But above all, she is partial to the title role in Lulu by Alban Berg, with which she debuted in Staatsoper Berlin under the baton of Daniel Barenboim.
“Lulu is such a complicated character,” she explains. “There are many questions about her – what happened to her in her early days, why did she kill a man or did he kill himself because of her? It was the first time I sang Lulu, and I was so lucky that it was with Barenboim. He was simply fantastic.”
Erdmann devotes about half her time to performing recitals.
“Most of my repertoire is classical and romantic, but quite often I finish my recital with a very good contemporary piece because that is probably the best way to reach the audience, which is not so fond of music of the here and now and would probably never go to a recital of contemporary music,” she says.
Aside from musical matters, Erdmann says she is thrilled to be going to Jerusalem for the first time.
“Although I will not have much time for leisure, I am looking forward to seeing the amazing city,” she says.
August 28 – September 4, YMCA in Jerusalem. For more details: http://www.jcmf.org.il For reservations: (02) 625-0444