Heidrun Holtmann was born in Münster, Germany, where she began her musical education at the age of four. Five years later she was accepted by the Music Academy of Detmold, where she worked with Renate Kretschmar-Fischer and completed her studies with highest honours. Holtmann's study with Kretschmar-Fischer is in continuation of the tradition of german pianists and their successive teacher-pupil relationship which stretches back to Ludwig van Beethoven.
She was awarded several prizes at national and international competitions. In 1979, she won the second prize ex aequo and in 1982 the first prize at the Concours Géza Anda in Zurich and within a few years had achieved recognition from audiences and critics alike. Appearances with conductors such as Antal Doráti, Iván Fischer and David Zinman followed, and she performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich as well as with many other symphony and chamber orchestras in Germany and abroad.
Heidrun Holtmann is a regular guest at international festivals, including Salzburg Festival, Festival d‘Automne à Paris, Festival d‘Estiú de Barcelona, Berliner Festwochen, Lucerne Festival, Settimane Musicali di Stresa, Festival Pianistico Intemazionale di Brescia e Bergamo, Ruhr Piano Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Bonn Piano Summer, MDR-Musiksommer, Lockenhaus, Kuhmo, Prussia Cove and has toured in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, the USA, Canada, South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
She has frequently been featured on radio and television programs, with an artist‘s portrait and a televised concert of Chopin‘s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg and Klauspeter Seibel as well as a documentary of two early Mozart Piano Concertos with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and Marc Andreae undertaken by Swiss Television in Lugano, which was later released on DVD by Euroarts.
Heidrun Holtmann‘s discography is wide-ranging, from the complete works for piano and orchestra by Robert Schumann with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the direction of Stefan Soltesz, to several recital discs with compositions by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Scriabin, Debussy, Martin, Holliger et al. Her latest release of Night Pieces (2CDs) contains works by various composers of the 19th and 20th century.
Her strong commitment to the music of our time, as for example demonstrated within the framework of her programme concept "Music as the Expression of Freedom", has resulted in projects such as the world première of Tzvi Avni's Piano Concerto with the Duisburger Philharmoniker conducted by Benjamin Shwartz.
Klavierabend Heidrun Holtmann im Jerusalem Music Center_Part1
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata in E Major op. 109
Josef Tal: Variations on Cum mortuis in lingua mortua
Klavierabend Heidrun Holtmann im Jerusalem Music Center_Part2
Tzvi Avni: In Spite of All That (world premiere)
Robert Schumann: Fantasiestucke op. 111
Gil Shohat: Kiss of Salome
Klavierabend Heidrun Holtmann im Jerusalem Music Center_Part3
Martin C. Redel: Captured Instants (world premiere)
Johannes Brahms: Fantasien op. 116
Frederic Chopin: Nocturne op. 27 no. 2
Between the composition of the two books of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s ›Well-Tempered Clavier‹ lie nearly two decades. He compiled the first during his years as Kapellmeister in Köthen in Saxony-Anhalt (1717 to 1723). Some of the pieces, or early forms of them, may already have been composed at the end of his time in Weimar. As Christoph Wolff notes, it was »probably his most revolutionary work for a keyboard instrument up to then«, in several respects. It was the first time a composer had written works in all the twelve major and twelve minor keys of the chromatic scale and put them together in a collection. In addition, the 24 preludes and fugues offered a compendium of the playing techniques, genres and forms of the piano music of the time. Not only that, they provided an overview of the art of composition and understanding of music. Bach also offers an introduction to the fundamentals of music playing, musical thinking and creativity.
Hans von Bülow termed Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier as the Old Testament of piano playing and these two volumes each containing 24 pairs of preludes and fugues are today still considered one of the great challenges of piano literature. The musical text offers great freedom as it is almost bereft of any dynamic and articulation markings. What is more, since Robert Levin showed in his hänssler recording that it can make sense to play the individual pairs of works on a variety of keyboard instruments (ranging from the harpsichord and fortepiano to the organ), we must ask ourselves even more intensely how the two parts can be performed on the modern grand piano.
Heidrun Holtmann interprets Bach's magnum opus with meticulous care, producing transparency in the contrapuntal voice structure and sensitivity in dynamic shaping, with coherent articulation and no hint of overstatement. In comparison with the eccentricities of Glenn Gould, she tends more in the direction of legato while however intentionally employing portato and staccato in her phrasing structure. Compared with Swjatoslaw Richter's tendency to cotton-wool romanticism interspersed by raging virtuoso interpretations, Holtmann provides a no less virtuoso version which is however less fraught. Her playing sounds far more natural than the style of Evgeni Koroliov, although possesses slightly flatter contours.
This new complete recording displays no symptoms of fatigue, even in Book II. Unfortunately, the booklet does not reveal how many days the award-winning pianist required to record the two volumes. On all accounts, Heidrun Holtmann has achieved a remarkable accomplishment.
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That much Bach's instrumental music lay ignored and had to be re-discovered means that performing traditions have been re-forming round it, giving performers a wide range of options. This quick survey of some recent Bach discs gives a flavour of the possibilities with Bach on the harpsichord, the piano and the grand organ of Notre Dame, as well as the violin.
Bach's complete preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier have been recorded on the Musicaphon label by the German pianist Heidrun Holtmann whose discography ranges from Mozart and Beethoven, through Schumann and Chopin to contemporary music. She brings great pianistic intelligence to the pieces, playing with clarity and affection. Her tempos are generally lively and fluent, with a nice dexterity in the fingerwork which brings out the individuality of the notes without quite veering towards the stylised effect that some pianists go for. The faster movements have a nice crisp separation of the notes. The slower ones show an intelligent use of pianistic legato, and some of the darker keys bring out a nice intensity in her playing. Similarly, the pedal is used discreetly. What I very much liked was the sense of very different character that she finds in each piece, rather than being dogmatic she uses an array of different pianistic techniques depending on context.
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