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Patricia Kopatchinskaja - Time & Eternity - BBC Music Magazine

Concept programmes are meat and drink to the Moldovan-born violinist’s boundless musical curiosity. And she’s not one to duck the big issues. In its string orchestral reincarnation, Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet is spliced with Dowland, Kurtág and Byzantine chant. She’s tackled the biosphere and global warming; and in ‘War ‘n’ Chips’, aspects of contemporary detachment – the latter her first ‘staged concert’ with Camerata Bern, who accompany her here on this latest foray into the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Two works stand at the centre of Time and Eternity. Karl Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, a 1939 protest against Nazism, and Frank Martin’s Polyptyque, inspired by a 14th-century Siena altarpiece depicting the Passion of Christ. Since Martin chose not to represent the Crucifixion itself, Kopatchinskaja interpolates a duo for violin and timpani with bells by Lubo Fi er commemorating the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring. Into the mix, too, goes John Zorn’s meditation on Kol Nidrei, prayers, folksong and arrangements of Machaut and JS Bach. It all keeps listeners on their toes, even if the chorales interleaved with the movements of Polyptyque propose an enhancement that is perhaps at odds with Martin’s original intentions. The Hartmann in particular is an ideal vehicle for her interrogation and she exacts every ounce of expressive mileage. The Allegro molto’s implacable drive scorches as she energises her Bern players (almost like Shostakovich on speed!), and Martin’s portrait of Judas is spikily febrile. Piquantly thought out, suavely executed and impeccably recorded, Kopatchinskaja’s latest project is a thought-provoking winner.

BBC Music Magazine
01 October 2019