Thomas-Michael Auner & Maximilian Flieder

217 - Works for cello & piano by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Cerha

Photo: Julia Wesely

The program presented here by cellist Thomas-Michael Auner and pianist Maximilian Flieder spans a good two hundred years. It offers a wide stylistic arc of suspense through which the chamber music duo present themselves masterfully.

The Beethoven Duo Wien (Vienna) presents an exceptionally thrilling mix of old and new: musical pieces by two Viennese masters serve as chronological bookends for the young ensembles‘ debut CD. Beethoven’s second cello Sonata op.5,2 is an early example for the cello’s emancipation, which – at one time merely relegated to the position of bass reinforcement in the still weak piano forte sound – became an equal partner in Beethoven’s early sonatas. And more than equal: the Sonata op.5,2 underscores each individual instrument’s role, though here and there, the specter of “daddy Haydn“ still lurks behind a corner. Not a grumpy misanthrope is revealed here, but instead the epicurean side of Beethoven, who indeed could also enjoy the happier and more entertaining sides of life, shines through. A good two hundred years later, Friedrich Cerha composed five movements for violoncello and piano, five pointed miniatures in which the recently de-ceased Viennese master dares a suspenseful arc between tradition and modernity. And of course, staying true to Cerha, humor also does not come up short.

Bracketed by the historical and the modern are two Romantic pieces: Robert Schumann’s folk music-inspired pieces and Johannes Brahms‘ Sonata op.78. Schumann’s works are reflections of his inner life, or, as the composer himself put it, they are “delicate, fragrant flowers which do not seek to lead a triumphant march through the salon but which will revive the mind in a quiet circle.“ What makes these miniatures so appealing are not just the wonderful cantilenas performed by the cello, but also the Hungarian, Nordic, and other “folksy tunes“ which Schumann adapted into finely sophisticated dialogues of imagined folklore. Placed next to these miniatures, Brahms‘ Sonata op. 78 appears even more massive. Originally written for violin and piano, it was later rewritten for violoncello. Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, a friend of Brahms, described the effect of his music as follows: “The last movement spins round the listener, and the sentimental content is positively overflowing, making you wonder if one feels moved by this particular musical piece in G minor or if there was something else which, subconsciously, has taken such a hold of your innermost feelings.“

The Beethoven-Duo Wien was founded in the Beethoven year 2020 and has set as its goal the complete interpretation of all works for violoncello and piano written by this master from Bonn. Thomas-Michael Auner and Maximilian Flieder can look back at many years of shared concert experiences. The have performed several times at the Vienna Musik-verein, as well as the Brucknerhaus Linz, at the Sommerkonzerte Wienerwald, the Schubertiade Atzenbrugg, and elsewhere. They have launched successful careers with their respective instruments.

Maximilian Flieder comes from a Vienesse music family and began playing piano at age five. When he was eight years young, he won his first piano competition. From then on, Flieder developed an active concert practice, which has since brought him not just to frequent performances in the largest concert houses of Vienna but also to countries near and far. Already at age nine, he was accepted into the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna. He graduated cum laude and continued his studies at the Musikhochschule Hannover and Munich with Prof. Matti Raekallio and Prof. Antii Siirala. In addition to his studies, Peter Frankl, Marino Formenti, and Sir András Schiff had a defining influence on his musical training. Maximilian Flieder has become increasingly

dedicated to the Kunstlied (art song). Since October 2019, he has been teaching at the institute for piano at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna. He has also received the soloist advancement award by Steinway & Sons Munich.

Thomas-Michael Auner began showing his musical talent very early, and at age four, began learning to play instruments with the help of his parents: his mother Irina taught him piano, and his father Diethard violoncello. On the violoncello, he became successful at a young age, winning many national and interna-tional competitions. Among other prizes, he won the first prize at the international cello competition in Liezen when he was only 15 years old. From 2010 to 2015, he was a student of Gustav Rivinius‘ at the HfM Saarbrücken and in 2018 completed his master studies cum laude in the class of Natalia Gutman at the MUK in Vienna. Already during his studies, he received numerous awards and studies. In 2016, he was given the advancement prize of the Mozartge-meinde Wien Stiftung Margaretha Schenk as an Austrian emerging artist. Thomas-Michael Auner can already look back on many solo experiences and performances with several orchestras, such as the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, the Sinfonietta Baden, the RTSH Orchester Tirana, and the orchestra of the NUK Vienna.

“Next, the audiences were enthralled by the performance given by young cellist Thomas-Michael Auner. With Tchaikovsky’s variations, he conquered the hearts of his listeners.“

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