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Chantal Akerman and Sonia Wieder-Atherton

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Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Here's some news about an interesting collaboration in -- where else? -- Paris. Cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton (winner of the 1986 Rostropovich Competition) asked her old friend, the filmmaker Chantal Akerman, for permission to give a recital with pianist Laurent Cabasso in conjunction with the screening of sections of her film D'Est (1993). This concert, D'Est en Musique, took place on December 13 and 14 at the Cité de la Musique in Paris. A review by Armelle Héliot (Chantal Akerman, musique en images, December 12) in Le Figaro relates what happened (my translation):
"I made D'Est," the novelist and filmmaker recalls, "in 1992 at a time when Eastern Europe had just thrown off the communist yoke, not even three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the «Velvet Revolution» in Prague, all those events that had given these countries something to float on as they remade themselves. It was these images of a floating world that I wanted to take, or rather that I sought to let the world float in these images." [...] Chantal Akerman created the spatial arrangement of the concert, in which works of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Janáček, and Schnittke will be heard, and chose the images. Sonia Wieder-Atherton dreamed up the black tulle that separates her from the audience and on which the images are projected.
Eric Dahan also wrote an article (Un «D'Est» céleste, December 13) for Libération (my translation):
On a large veil of black tulle are shown images from this "film-voyage" through eastern Europe, the day after the fall of communism. Behind, barely lit, Sonia Wieder-Atherton and the pianist Laurent Cabasso are playing sonatas "as if the musique could transform the cars rolling through the snow into light ballerinas; as if it protected the women gathering potatoes in a field, but also adding menace to a building hidden behind some trees at night." Haunted by these vision of crowds reminding her of the USSR of her student years, the cellist could not stop watching the videotape of the film and responding to the mute images, long fixed scenes, and wanderings. Witness to the first "musical settings" of her images, Akerman claims she was "all choked up" by a dance scene, "full of people relaxing and dancing to bad rock music," transformed into a moment of grace by Prokofiev's Adagio.
Here are links to Sonia Wieder-Atherton's two most important and recent recordings available in the United States.

Chants Juifs, Sonia Wieder-Atherton
Chants Juifs: Jewish Songs for Cello and Piano, Sonia Wieder-Atherton and Daria Hovora (2001)
En Sonate, Sonia Wieder-Atherton
En Sonate, Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2004)

Sonia Wieder-Atherton's upcoming concert schedule has only one appearance here in the United States, a chamber music concert with Da Camera at Houston's Wortham Theatre on May 5 and 6. Then, from May 13 to 17, she will give a concert and make a radio recording of works by Ionarts favorite composer Lera Auerbach, in Cologne.

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