Greetings from the Biedermeier times
PERSONAL NOTES by the artists
What was your first encounter with “historical” instruments?
Sheila Arnold [SA]: Everything began in the late 1990s, attending a masterclass at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. There I met a handsome young guitarist from the class of Pepe Romero. The young guitarist, for his part, was not entirely uninterested in an Indian pianist from the class of Lev Naumov. Pepe soon realized what was going on. He gave Alexander the score of a piano/guitar duet and said: “Go and find a pianist!” The title was full of innuendo: “Papageno wants a sweetheart”.
Alexander-Sergei Ramirez [AR]: No sooner said than done! At least sometimes I did what my teacher told me.
Many years went by as a couple until we actually started making music together. The guitar and the piano are entirely autonomous harmonic instruments that do very well by themselves, or combine ideally with melody instruments.
SA: Our musical approaches are nonetheless quite similar. Eventually we did try out that duet by Mozart/Beethoven/Carulli – but on our modern instruments. Due to their entirely disparate sonorities, the musical liaison was doomed to fail. The piano had to play softly all the time, or not play at all; the guitar was constantly forced to sound as loud as possible. That couldn’t turn out well. Neither of us could elicit any trace of musical charm or start to make nuances in terms of timbre.
It became clear that these works were not conceived for the instruments we were playing
AR: Indeed! They were written in the early 1800s for fortepiano and Romantic guitar, also called “Biedermeier guitar”. Instruments in the 1810-1850 period were built much more intricately and minutiously than their more voluminous siblings of today.
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Sheila Arnold belongs to a new generation of pianists who feel as much at home on the modern concert grand as on the fortepiano: the symbiotic feedback between the two instruments never ceases to inspire her. Her repertoire spans keyboard music ranging from the 1700’s to world premieres of contemporary music.
Very early on, her triumph as a finalist at the Clara Haskil Competition in 1995 and the Mozart Prize awarded by the Wiesbaden Mozart Society at the Salzburg International Mozart Competition reflect her special affinity with that composer: Sheila Arnold’s Mozart renditions have always been euphorically acclaimed by reviewers and audiences worldwide.
Ms. Arnold studied under the guidance of Heidi Köhler and Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, and went on to garner a considerable number of first prizes and successes at German and international competitions. She was also selected for a series of scholarships and awards, leading to extensive worldwide appearances since her youth. Many of them were recorded for radio and television broadcast, as well as on CD.
Renowned music festivals have invited Ms. Arnold to perform in Europe and the US. She has collaborated with well-known orchestras such as Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of Bonn Beethovenhalle and Prague Chamber Orchestra, and with conductors such as Jesús López-Cobos, Marc Soustrot, and Michael Hofstetter. Her chamber music partners include the likes of Nina Janssen, Sergio Azzolini, Wilhelm Bruns, Ralf Manno, Guido Schiefen, Michael Faust, Isabelle Faust, Alexander-Sergei Ramírez, the Mandelring Quartet, and many others. Inspiring encounters and collaborations with renowned musician colleagues have taken place at the Spannungen Chamber Music Festival (Heimbach), and at the Music Festival in Hambach (Neustadt). Sheila Arnold’s CD with works by Brahms and Schumann was released in 2010 and featured as a CHOC selection in Classica, the French classical music magazine. In 2006 Ms. Arnold was appointed piano professor at Cologne Musikhochschule; she is also frequently invited to give international masterclasses.
After having studied dance and theatre in Berlin and in Spain, Friederike v. Krosigk founded her own theatre company, the Ensemble Theatrum, in 1996, and settled in the 800-year-old castle of Hohenerxleben in Saxony-Anhalt.
Friederike v. Krosigk performs theatre productions in churches and theatres all over Germany, including the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Her unique performances on the concert castanets (in classical music, world music, and jazz) have impressed audiences in several European countries.
She has performed with the Gewandhaus String Quartet, with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and with the Young Philharmonic Orchestra of Venezuela under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.
Her art of castanet playing has likewise been featured on European broadcast television (ARTE).