Theresa Plut, soprano
Polona Gantar, organ
Musicologist: Katarina Bogunović Hočevar, PhD.
19:30 PRE-CONCERT CONVERSATION WITH THE PERFORMERS, led by musicologist Katarina Bogunović Hočevar, PhD.
Sacred songs by Hugo Wolf (1860–1903), arrangements for soprano and organ by Max Reger (1873–1916)
Hugo Wolf, arr. Max Reger
Nun bin ich dein (Now I am yours)
Die du Gott gebarst (You who bore God, you most Pure)
30 Little Chorale Preludes, Op. 135a, No. 4 , Aus tiefer Not schrei Ich zu dir (Out of the depths I call to thee)
Hugo Wolf, arr. Max Reger
Nun wandre, Maria (Journey onward now, Mary)
Die ihr schwebet (You who hover)
52 Chorale Preludes, op. 67, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, the voice is calling us)
Hugo Wolf, arr. Max Reger
Führ mich, Kind, nach Betlehem! (Lead me, child, to Bethlehem!)
Ach, des Knaben Augen (Ah, the eyes of the lad)
52 Chorale Preludes, op. 67, Jesus ist kommen (Jesus has come)
Hugo Wolf, arr. Max Reger
Herr, was trägt der Boden (Lord, what does this ground bear)
Wunden trägst du, mein Geliebter (The wounds you bear, my Beloved)
Poems by Eduard Mörike, Karwoche (Holy Week)
30 Little Chorale Preludes, Op. 135a, No. 1, Ach, bleib mit deiner Gnade (Oh remain with your grace)
Hugo Wolf, arr. Max Reger
Poems by Eduard Mörike, Schlafendes Jesuskind (The Sleeping Christchild)
Poems by Eduard Mörike, Gebet (Prayer)
30 Little Chorale Preludes, Op. 135a, No. 15, Lobe den Herren (Praise the lord)
In honour of the 160th anniversary of Hugo Wolf’s birth, Theresa Plut and Polona Gantar, in collaboration with ZKP RTV Slovenia, released a CD with sacred songs by Hugo Wolf arranged for soprano and organ by Max Reger.
Max Reger (1873–1916), composer, theorist, pianist, conductor, one of the greatest organists of his time and a worshiper of Bach’s art, expressed his admiration and respect for the art of Hugo Wolf in arranging and interpreting his masterpieces. Reger also instrumentalized songs by Brahms, Strauss, and Schubert, but by the number of adaptations, he was most sympathetic to Wolf. With his selection of Wolf’s fourteen songs (ten spiritual songs from the Spanish Songbook and four spiritual songs from Mörike’s collection), he may have wanted to emphasize their spiritual side. As an exceptional connoisseur of the organ’s expressive abilities, he significantly transferred the original chamber character of the spiritual content to the environment of sacral music.
In a peculiar flow of deeply tragic life, Hugo Wolf (1860–1903) managed to create works in two shorter but compositionally intense periods, with which he opened a new chapter of a German song (solo-song) and at the same time paid homage to the tradition of this (German) genre in the expiring 19th century. Until the age of twenty-seven, he was creatively known only to his closest circle of friends, as his first solo songs were not published until 1887. Before that as an avid Wagner fan, he disturbed many music circles with his music-critical records in the Vienna newspaper Wiener Salonblatt, thus gaining an unenviable reputation. In a tumultuous musical search, he was faithfully (humanly and materially) supported by selected friends, without whom his creative path would probably have been different. After the release of the first two volumes of solo songs at a small publishing house found by the composer’s friend Friedrich Eckstein, Wolf’s four years of feverish creativity unfolded. During this time (1887–1891) he wrote more than 200 poems based on texts by Mörike, Eichendorff, Goethe, Keller, and on Spanish poetry translated by Paul Heyse and Emanuel Geibel. In his literary pursuits, he did not look to contemporary poetry; he preferred to reach for the verses of the great poets of the German past, especially those not yet set to music by the composers (Eduard Mörike).
Wolf originally transferred the subtle and delicate attitude towards poetry to music. The concise expressiveness of his speech is constantly focused on the lyrical level of the verses. In an extended tonality, he tested post-Wagnerian declamativity (with a declamatory vocal melody he allowed considerable freedom of expression of poetry) and at the same time preserved some elements of the tradition of Schubert and Schumann’s solo songs.
Regardless of Wolf’s attitude toward religion, it is obvious that he was inclined to spiritual content. Thus, he placed twelve spiritual poems at the centre of the collection (1888) on Mörike’s texts, more than half of which were written after Wolf’s shocking experience of Parsifal in Bayreuth in August 1888. In the Spanish Songbook (1889) he went a step further: he separated spiritual poems from the profane ones, opened a new collection with them and rounded them up thematically. Wolf’s encounter with the Spanish Songbook was the result of a search for a story for an opera libretto. The Spanish theme also excited and attracted German and French romantics in the 19th century, and Wolf found a new source of inspiration in it, which he turned from high poetry to Heyse’s and Geibel’s translations or free adaptations of artistically simple Spanish Renaissance verses.
Ten spiritual poems portray the distinctly mystical atmosphere of the South; in the first two songs the sinner turns to the Virgin Mary in longing and request for God’s grace, and in the next four the time of Jesus’ birth and childhood is in the foreground (in the third Joseph gently encourages the pregnant and tired Mary on the way to Bethlehem, in the fourth Mary silently beggs angels to calm the roar of the wind in the palm leaves, in the fifth a tired soul on the way to Jesus in Bethlehem hopes and asks for salvation, and the sixth thematizes the search for God’s grace in the eyes of the Child). The seventh and eighth verses speak of salvation, and the final two are devised as a dialogue with Jesus in such a way that a repentant sinner wants to take upon himself his suffering in love for Jesus.
The common thread of all the songs is man’s awareness of sinfulness, repentant search for God’s grace, a meditation on the meaning of the incarnation and the death of Jesus. Wolf’s music ranges from the suggestive ethereality of church singing and prayer to a personal intimate and dramatic confession, musically realized between mystical fanaticism and internalized asceticism.
Katarina B. Hočevar (translation: Neville Hall)
The artistic career of soprano Theresa Plut has been marked by appearances at international venues under the baton of renowned conductors such as John Fiore, Alexander Joel, Alain Paris, Nicholas Milton, Emmanuel Villaume, and others. An artist of exceptional musicality, great emotional strength, depth and expressiveness, she became a member of the soloist ensemble of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf immediately upon completing her studies, giving her debut as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute. This was followed by the roles of Walter (La Wally), Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Rosina (The Barber of Seville), Casilda (The Gondoliers), Serpetta (La finta giardiniera), Gretel (Hänsel and Gretel), Olympia (The Tales of Hoffmann), among others. In leading roles, she has thrilled audiences on various opera stages, such as Pfalztheater Kaiserlautern, Theater Winterthur, the Royal Opera House in Bangkok, and at the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana. She has collaborated with celebrated directors, including Christof Loy and Philipp Harnoncourt, and performed with renowned orchestras, such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Opernorchester Stuttgart, Jenaer Philharmonie, Württembergische Philharmonie, the Bach Collegium Zürich, the Concerto Munich Baroque Orchestra, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. Her extensive repertoire ranges from early music to works by contemporary composers, and she has made an outstanding impression on concert stages in performances of Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Seasons, Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, Brahms’s A German Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. At the invitation of conductor Emmanuel Villaume, she performed alongside Anna Netrebko on the European tour of Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta, as well as participated in the recording of the opera for the label Deutsche Grammophon. In addition to her opera and concert activities, Theresa Plut has established herself as an outstanding interpreter of art song. At solo recitals in Slovenia and abroad, she dedicates herself to promoting the heritage of Slovenian art song.
Theresa Plut began her musical career at McGill University in Montreal and continued at the Hochschule für Musik Zürich and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Stuttgart. Her mentors were Marisa Gaetanne, Jane Thorner Mengedoht, Richard Miller and Janina Stano. Theresa Plut has been a prizewinner at several international competitions and has been awarded various scholarships. She has served as a visiting professor at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia and has received an honorary professorship from the Central National University of Beijing. She is employed as an assistant professor at the Ljubljana Academy of Music, and regularly conducts seminars in Slovenia and abroad. Theresa was born to Slovenian parents in Vancouver, Canada.
Organist Polona Gantar graduated from the Department of Music Education at the Ljubljana Academy of Music. At the same time, she studied the organ (concert course) at the Carinthian Conservatory of Music in Klagenfurt with Professor Klaus Kuchling, where she later graduated with distinction. In 2003, she completed her master’s degree in the organ at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna under Professor Peter Planyavsky. She enriched her education in Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands at numerous masterclasses for the organ and improvisation, led by Almuth Rössler, Olivier Latry, Jos van der Kooy, Peter Planyavsky, Michael Radulescu, Ewald Kooiman, Christoph Wolff and others. She gives solo recitals at home and abroad, collaborates with Slovenia’s most distinguished choirs, and performs in chamber ensembles with solo singers and instrumentalists. Polona Gantar regularly records for RTV Slovenia’s archive and record label, which has released her CDs entitled The Harp of the Fine Rain, and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In 2007, she recorded the composition Bolero by Austrian composer Peter Planyavsky for the German label Motette (Peter Planyavsky – Ausgewählte Orgelwerke). She has recorded several other CDs with various Slovenian choirs, and for the RTV Slovenia archive has, among other things, recorded the solo organ works of Primož Ramovš. In 2014, 2016 and 2018, she collaborated as an organist in CD releases by the international Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir for the Norwegian label Cantando Musikvorlag (conducted by Ragnar Rasmussen and Urša Lah). Polona Gantar is a music editor at Radio Slovenia’s Programme Ars, and writes professional music articles for the music journal Glasna. She also serves as an organist at the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation at the Three Bridges in Ljubljana.
Admission free. Free tickets can be picked up the last hour before the concert at the entrance to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. The number of seats is limited, so we advise you to arrive a little earlier.
Due to safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections, all visitors must wear protective facemasks, disinfect their hands regularly, and observe a safety distance of at least 1.5 m. Entry to the event is only possible with a ticket, visitors are asked to enter the venue individually, hostesses will accompany them to a vacant seat. To ensure safety, we kindly ask all visitors to strictly follow the instructions. If you suspect that you have come in contact with the coronavirus or are showing typical signs of the disease, do not attend the event. Let’s take care of ourselves and our loved ones.