Scottish Ensemble : In Schubert’s Company with Maxim Rysanov

Eden Court, Inverness

21st October 2015



I myself enjoy most genres of music, however classical is a new concept to me; I have very few pieces of classical in my musical collection. Whilst looking through the Eden Court program, my partner highlighted Schubert as an excellent choice of music for a good night out.

In Schubert’s Company (2013) was written by Sergey Akunov, who put together a competition for musicians to write a contemporary new piece of music structured on Schubert’s own work.

Maxim Rysanov won with this very impressive musical score which involved an intro of violins and violas being plucked, with lots of undertones and overtones including the build up of cellos and bass, a very pleasant melody. The whole performance was very thoughtful and rousing. Maxim describes his music as “I understand that contemporary composers often have extended annotations to their works which explain how to understand their music. Many years ago I wanted also to be smart, to have smart ‘concepts’… But as I got older, I decided not to say anything more than the listener can hear in my music. The ideas in my music are obvious. This can probably be called my ‘concept’.”

thKV33UT3QAt Maxims request Sergey Akhunov wrote Der Erkonig who “wanted this sort of fast and demonic music, but connected in some way with a Schubert ballad”. Taking Schubert’s 1815 Lied of the same title as inspiration, Akhunov’s new interpretation duly mirrors the structure of the chilling Goethe poem that forms the songs text, which depicts a child being chased by a shadowy supernatural being – the Erlkonig – who finally kills him. This is a very gripping piece of music, which is fast based, played with lots of base notes and playing techniques to incorporate the required sound for the music.

The next piece, written by Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828), Sonata in A minor, “Arpeggione”, D.821 (1824) was an excellent addition to the evening, & was played in four ways;

1.Allegro; 2. Moderato; 3. Adagio; 4. Allegretto

The arpeggione instrument was invented between 1823 and 1824 by Johann Georg Stauffer, a bowed instrument with six strings and frets, held between the knees, it was a cross between a cello and a guitar. I found the music very enjoyable, putting a smile on my face as well as the musicians. The music evoked imaginations of dancing in fields, star crossed lovers illicitly dancing in secrecy and intrigue, openly dancing in corn fields.

I have to say I enjoyed the first performances before the break for ice-cream and refreshments a lot more to the more traditional high and low contrasts developed in the Franz Schubert string quartet in F minor, ”Death and the Maiden”.

To conclude all the music was played in a very colourful, visual and contemporary style with a final score being much darker and traditional. I much preferred the Maxim Rysanov modern contemporary adaptions to Schubert’s compositions and would look for his name more than Schubert per se.

Reviewer : Richard Aitken

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