Heinz Holliger: Aschenmusik

June 30, 2014

In his triumphant new album, Heinz Holliger explores and revists "Romancendres," and other significant works by composer Robert Schumann.


Heinz Holliger

Heinz Holliger (photo by Priska Ketterer)


Composer, conductor, and oboist Heinz Holliger has repeatedly claimed Robert Schumann as "the true center of my thoughts." In Aschenmusik, he allows his thoughts to return to the German romantic. He grounds the album in his own "Romancendres"  (the lost Cello Romances), but frames them around Schumann's most beloved pieces.

Holliger's "Romancendres," refer to the "Cello Romances" that Clara Schumann burned on Brahms’s advice. Still haunted by this destruction, Holliger reimagined this "music from the ashes" in 2003, and brilliantly revists it here, more than a decade later. Ultimatley, Aschenmusik is a contemporary portrait of Schumann, packed with quotations, projected like a lifetime passing through the mind of a dying man.

The “Romancendres" are prefaced by Schuman’s "Romances for Oboe and Piano," masterpieces which have been a celebrated part of Holliger’s repertoire for 60 years, and by the rarely-played "Studies in Canon Form" which find Holliger on the oboe d’amore.

The album closes with a unique twist on Schumann’s first sonata for violin and piano: substituting a cello for violin. This twist is something that stays true to Schumann's own vision as a composer. Holliger notes that "Schumann himself thought it could also be played on a cello. I find it grandiose with this combination of instruments."

At its core, Aschenmusik is a celebration of life. As he enters his 75th year (and in time for his birthday), Heinz Holliger, together with cellist Anita Leuzinger, and pianist Anton Kernjak stir new life into Schumann's ashes.


Tune in to 99.5 WCRB all week to hear Aschenmusik by Heinz Holliger.

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor