During the penultimate press briefing for the current Malta International Music Festival organised by the European Foundation for the Support of Culture, artistic director of the Foundation and of the Festival Alan Chircop introduced the last soloist to be performing with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra under Sergey Smbatyan. Clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer is first clarinettist with the Berliner Philharmonic and well on the way to a brilliant career. A short video featured Andreas Ottensamer in concert performing a variety of music genres following which Ottensamer said that he was impressed by what has been happening during the past two weeks and he felt honoured to be participating in the final concert. He has read the Festival brochure and he has been kept up to date with what has been happening by his friend, violinist Ray Chen. This Festival, he said, is different from other Festivals since artists do not just come and straight go back . They are given the opportunity to stay and soak up the atmosphere of the Festival. He is eager to see the work in process when he will be rehearsing with the orchestra the next day. Playing the clarinet is different from playing other instruments. It is at the same time more simple and more challenging. He tries to put something different into any project that he undertakes even if it involves a work that has been played very often. The clarinettist does not have at his disposal the vast repertoire of other instruments such as the piano and the violin so he tries avoid limitations about what he performs. He likes to widen his repertoire with new works as will be happening in the concert the next day. While he considers himself as primarily a classical musician he also finds it necessary to explore other music genres. The clarinet is a very versatile instrument, equally at home with classical music and folk music, jazz and more. The challenge is to know exactly what one can do while continuing to explore other genres. In this way it becomes easier to make people have access to your instrument. Once the clarinet features so prominently in Armenian folk music conductor Smbatyan was asked whether he has plans to ask Andreas to work on some project together with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. Smbatyan replied that in fact they have already started talking about this. Ottensamer said that having grown up surrounded by operatic music in Vienna he could not help being influenced by his familiarity with the operas of Verdi in his approach to the work by Alexey Shor he will be performing the next day. Verdiana, as its name implies has many quotations from Verdi. The music of Shor is very lyrical; there is not much that one needs to actively change, but one has to remain open and see all the different allusions. Asked how he makes music accessible to young people like him Ottensamer said that it is important to show them that he is a normal human being, interested in other things besides playing his instrument. The social media are an excellent tool to achieve this. The next day’s concert will be presenting works by two Maltese composers, Charles Camilleri and Alexey Shor, both of which are replete with rich melodies. Smbatyan was asked whether he saw any connection between the two. He replied that in spite of the strong melodic element in both works it was obvious that the two composers had a completely different way of thinking. Asked to explain the reference to the “Crystal Sound” in the title given to the concert Alan Chircop said that the phrase tries to describe the sound of Ottensamer’s playing and its effect on the listener. On his part Ottensamer said that he does try to create a special sound with his playing. At the end of the conference Aan Chircop thanked the artist for being present at the conference and Maestro Sergey Smbatyan particularly for the long session he and the Orchestras had yesterday when in the course of an afternoon they performed six piano concertos for for the final session of the International Piano Competition that required each one of the six finalists to perform a concerto with the orchestra. This was the climax of a process that started a year ago with eleven different piano competitions held in different countries. He also thanked the conductor and the orchestra for the support they gave for the young soloists. At this point Alan Chircop listed the prize winners whose names were announced at the end of last night concert. These were: Anna Ulaieva from the Ukraine who won the first prize of €100,000 Shion Ota from Japan who won the second prize of €50,000 Uongqiu Liu from China who won the third prize of €25,000 and the special prize of €5,000 for the best performance of a Maltese composition Gen Li from China, who was placed fourth, Ben Holzman from Israel who was placed fifth, and Hiripsime Aghakaryan from Armenia who was placed sixth prize, each getting a prize of €6000. The ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 32 years. Mr Chircop said that the Foundation was very satisfied with the process of the Competition that had run very smoothly. The judges had been unanimous in their decision and there was a general consensus even among the participants about the results and the way points were awarded. The finalists had supported one another, they were happy with their own personal results and the final results of the competition. The Foundation was very pleased to be giving this opportunity to the young pianists. Finally Mr Chircop reminded of the evening’s concert at the Mediterranean Conference Centre when two brothers, Narek Hakhnazaryan and Tigran Hakhnazaryan would be performing as solo cellist and conductor respectively with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.
The Crystal Sound of the Clarinet