Last composer standing – it's the rising clarinet

Last composer standing – it's the rising clarinet


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2010

The esteemed firm of Schott (Mainz and London) has submitted its most performed works of the past ten years. Well, not quite the last ten years since anything that happened before the computer was installed in 2004 is distinctly sketchy. Probably kept in a drawer as scaprs of paper with a lock of Beethoven’s hair.

Still, the returns demand serious attention because every single work on the list is strictly highbrow – no concession here to Classic FM style.

I’ll present the Schott list verbatim and submit the final analysis tomorrow. Here goes:

1  Jörg Widmann Hunt Quartett (No.2) (2003) – 74 performances
2 Henri Dutilleux Correspondances (soprano and orchestra)  (2004) x 56
3 Peter Eötvös Zeropoints (orchestra) (2000)  x 55
4 György Ligeti Sippal, Dobbal (mezzo and 4 percussion) (2000)  x 44
5 Jörg Widmann Choralquartett (No.2) (2003)  x 34
6 Peteris Vasks 2nd Symphony (2000) x 32
7 Jörg Widmann Versuch uber die Fuge (SQ No.5) (2005)  x 30
8 Jörg Widmann String Quartet No. 4 (2003)  x 29
9 Mark-Anthony Turnage Scorched (for jazz soloists and orchestra) (2001)  x 27
10 Peter Eötvös Snatches of a Conversation (trumpet and ensemble) 2001  x 26

This is a terrific result for Widmann, 36, a Munich-born clarinettist who has become a favourite of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. With four out of Schott’s top ten he leapfrogs his teacher Wolfgang Rihm as Germany’s most sought-after composer of the decade.


This is also a good result for the rising Hungarian, Eotvos. I am, though, perplexed at Mark Turnage’s relatively poor showing. He’s one of the few composers around with a sound all his own and a reach beyond the staid concert audience.