German violinist Carolin Widmann has maintained a top-flight career in central Europe and in Britain, manifesting a strong commitment to contemporary music while offering choice, connoisseur-label interpretations of mainstream repertory works.
Widmann was born in 1976 in Munich; her brother, Jörg Widmann, is a noted clarinetist and composer. Widmann's training was fully international, taking place under Igor Ozim in Germany, David Takeno in England, and Michèle Auclair in the U.S., at Boston's New England Conservatory. Widmann first attracted attention in 1998 by winning the Prix du President at the Concours International Yehudi Menuhin in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. She followed that up with several other prizes including the notable Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Recording Critics' Prize) in 2006.
Reflections I That prize was for Widmann's first album, Reflections I, which had an ambitious program for a debut: it focused on music from Ysaÿe to Boulez to Jörg Widmann, that reflected on its own influences. That recording was made for Telos, but the majority of her recordings have been made for the contemporary-music-oriented and semi-audiophile ECM label. Her 2012 ECM album of Schubert violin works won critical plaudits for its inward interpretations, and in general Widmann has brought fresh perspective to Romantic repertory. She has also recorded music of such contemporary composers as Wolfgang Rihm, Morton Feldman, Olivier Messiaen, and Salvatore Sciarrino.
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert SchumannWidmann teaches at the Felix Mendelssohn University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig and has organized her own chamber music festival, the Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker. Her touring schedule, however, has been increasingly demanding and prestigious, including, in the 2015-2016 season, a performance of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto with England's Philharmonia Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi. She has commissioned new works by Rihm, Julian Anderson, and other composers. Widmann has also experimented with historical performance, using gut strings in performances of older music and leading the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin in performances in 2014-2015. Widmann released a recording of violin concertos by Mendelssohn and Schumann, conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe from the violin, on ECM in 2016.- James Manheim.