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By avoiding mannerisms, the focus was placed on the music itself
Waltrop:Cologne-based pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs made a guest appearance at the Kulturforum Kapelle in Waltrop, performing music of tremendous clarity.
For a long time I had not attended a piano performancethat so clearly placed the works themselves in the center of the audience’s attention as therecital entitled “Musica Colonia” bypianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs.
I was quite curious to see how Marie-Luise Hinrichs wouldproduce a modern piano arrangement of a monophonic song by abbess and teacher Hildegard von Bingen, based on the modes of Medieval Gregorian chant. For today’s ears, mostly accustomed to harmonic tonality, that monophonic tuneinduces a kind of mystical atmosphere when it is sung:it transports the listener into another world. Would a piano accompaniment manage to communicate that same flair? Indeed, it beautifully succeeded in doing so! Hildegard’s complex vocal line, brimming with written-out melismas, was deployed in the right hand. Marie-Luise Hinrichs added a few simple elements of accompaniment which, although sparse, exerted an impressive effect. Once the initial vocal phrase had been enounced, the work’s finalis (central note) sounded out in the lower register. That G was maintained as an ostinato until the work’s close: in sections of equal length, it was either present or absent, thereby imbuing the work with a contemplative, tranquilly swayingrhythm. As a further element of accompaniment, the pianist used the pauses in the bass note to cross over with her left hand beyond the “melody hand” in order to add delicate fifths – the “perfect” interval of the Middle Ages, thus serving as this work’s “heavenly” component. In the chapel of the Kulturforum, all of those elements worked together to createa beautiful, mystical atmosphere.
Colorful Russian piano music
As a contrast with Scarlatti, the recital closed with a world première:for the first time in public, Marie-Luise Hinrichs performed her own “Sonata Colonia”. One could describe its harmonies as Neo-Romantic, strongly reminiscent of the colorful repertoire of Russian piano music. All in all, this is a work brimming with contrasts: the four movements are quite different in terms of character. In this world première, Marie-Luise Hinrichs likewise remained true to her style: reserved, introverted, avoiding any sort of interpretativefrippery – not even in the first movement, Allegro appassionata, which might otherwise have been tempting in that sense. This was beneficial for the piece, and for the entire evening. Only in one aspect would I find that the performer’s reticent approach deterred from the live concert experience: I personally would have preferred for most of the final chords at the end of movements to have remained sounding a little longer. In my view, the performer should breathe more in tandem with the audience and enjoy the sound together with them as it fades away.
But again I insist: it was fabulous to hear Marie-Luise Hinrichs. One can only hope that in spite of – and because of – her reticent approach,she will be heard more often on today’s competitive classical music scene.
Waltroper Zeitung 29 May 2018 By Dr. Heinz Josef Mußhoff
Dr. Heinz Josef Mußhoff is mostly known in Waltrop for his political engagement.
A few years ago, a beautifully meditative CD with the title Vocation was published by pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs, who lives in teaches in Cologne. It featured compositions by the great Medieval abbess Hildegard von Bingen, arranged for piano by Hinrichs herself (I highly recommend that you listen to it; Igo back to it again and again!)
After further releases, she now surprises us once more – this time with a recording of her own pieces: Animal Portraits, a series of animal epiphanies set to music in contemplative, volatile, erratic or humorous ways. Fleas dance in the evening sun; sassy goats cackle at their observers; cats are wandering about with mischievous plans; puppies stretch their limbs. Even sea turtles become entrapped in musical notes and sounds. In terms of movement, rhythm and melody, they capture and retain the gist of every one of these animals.
Compositions such as these can be enjoyed and grasped by listeners of all ages, who can wistfully recall moments when they had the leisure to observe an animal and its special traits. Hinrichs has added three movements from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in D Major (KV 311) as an encore. It might seem strange, but it makes sense. All of a sudden we hear Mozart’s music as if it consisted of a series of animal portraits. But which animals might Mozart be evoking?
Published on13 May 2018 by Hanns-Josef Ortheil
Tierbilder (“Animal Portraits”): a new CD by Marie-Luise Hinrichs
Marie-Luise Hinrichs, an internationally renowned pianist and composer based in Cologne, has released a new CD featuring her own works.Tierbilder (“Animal Portraits”) is the title she has chosen for 29 miniatures that vividly depict a series of daily scenes with her housemates: Mia, the cat, and Stella, the dog. She also looks out the window in pieces such as Der Schmetterling (“The Butterfly”) or Der Fuchs läuft durch den Wald (“The fox runs through the forest”). At times she even takes her imagination on a world tour: “The Penguin”, “The Kangaroos”, “Riding on a Camel”. Thus, Marie-Luise Hinrichs has written and gathered this cycle of Animal Portraitswith a great deal of original imagination – at times vaguely reminiscent of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf or Bartók’s Mikrokosmos.
With the Piano Sonata in D Major K311at the close of this CD, Hinrichs once more confirms the solid reputation she has acquired as an interpreter of Mozart ever since the onset of her career.
23 May 2018 Klassik Heute, Detmar Huchting
Siegener Zeitung, March 1st, 2016
Subtlety and elegance
Marie-Luise Hinrichs delighted the audience at Keppel Monastery with a gorgeous piano recital of Baroque, Romantic and her own works
Ever since her début performing Mozart at the age of 14, Marie-Luise Hinrichs has been an international soloist in high demand. She has made herself a name with a Mozart CD that won the Cannes Classical Award, as well as with her CD entitled “Vocation”, released in 2011, featuring piano arrangements of chants by Medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen.
Hinrichs was entirely in her element with three pieces by Frederic Chopin. Marked sostenuto in D Flat Major, the well-known Raindrop Prelude (No. 15, op. 28) takes its name from an ostinato note that reminds one of the sound of raindrops; George Sand had already made this remark to Chopin. Although he wrote the piece in the midst of a stormy winter on Mallorca, the composer rejected any attempt at a descriptive explanation. With her melancholy, emotional interpretation, Marie-Luise Hinrichs captivated the audience, intensely building up toward a climax prior to the prelude’s gloomy conclusion.
An unsteady camel ride featuring Oriental pentatonic harmonies and fifths, followed by a lively portrait of her niece Linda and the latter’s dog named Floh, provoked smiles as well as applause. The ensuing variations on a Schumann theme (the first of which was composed by the pianist herself) were also very much enjoyed. Hinrichs closed her recital with piano arrangements of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater: those grievous melodies sounded every bit as impressive on the piano as the ensuing Ave generosa by Hildegard von Bingen. Amply transcending the original simple psalmodies, these concluding “piano chants” acquired fascinating brilliance in Hinrichs’ piano versions, leaving a profound impression on the audience.
“She is a master of extreme clarity, of gorgeously resounding liveliness.”
“Transporting the audience to the stillness and isolation of a cloister, these delicate, meditative
‘piano chants’ immediately captivated the listeners with profound mysticism. A unique
“Her playing is passionate and accurate at the same time; the numerous mordents reminiscent of
Scarlatti were rendered with unpretentious elegance. It is a great pleasure to hear Antonio Soler in
“Cologne pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs offered the audience in St. Anne’s Chapel (Marienstatt) a
profound view into her own heart. Her ‘piano chants’ are new versions of melodies by Hildegard
von Bingen arranged for solo piano. In this new garb, the Medieval mystic’s compositions retain
their gentleness while gaining new intensity.
When Brother Gregor arranged a date for a recital with Marie-Luise Hinrichs for the Marienstatt
Music Circle, neither of the two was aware that only one week afterwards – next Sunday – St.
Hildegard von Bingen would be officially named ‘Doctor of the Church’: a fitting occasion for an
astounding recital. Apart from her own improvisations on the chants of the Benedictine abbess,
Hinrichs also performed works composed by another mystic, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, who
wrote his pieces in collaboration with composer-pianist Thomas de Hartmann.
Marie-Luise Hinrichs came in contact with Hildegard von Bingen’s writings for the first time in
2005 when she read the Book of Visions; she was immediately fascinated by the abbess’s great
wisdom. ‘During a full half year I repeatedly listened to the chant O virga mediatrix. This music has
healing powers. It embraces the entire cosmos and is like an echo of the cosmos, of the heaven
and the stars, here on earth.’ While transcribing the pieces for piano she felt as if her hands were
guided by something invisible, and she invented techniques she had not known before. In the
Anna Chapel she truly gave an extraordinary performance.
Hinrichs seemed entirely absorbed in a world of gentle sounds, enlivened by the power she drew
from Hildegard’s music, transmitting that energy to the audience. Her hands floated across the
keys, occasionally halting in mid-air as if trying to grasp the hovering sounds. Not only did she
play on the keys, but she also reached inside the piano frame to pluck the strings like a harp. The
audience in Marienstatt succumbed to the quasi-meditative effect of Hinrichs’ music; remaining
intently silent even between one piece and the next. Many concertgoers closed their eyes and
listened in rapt concentration. The applause was all the more resounding, and Hinrichs concluded
her Piano Chants recital with an encore.”
“A revelatory experience awaited concertgoers at the third late evening recital in the Weilburg
Castle Concert Series. With her sensitive, mystic touch, Cologne pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs is
regarded throughout Germany as a truly exceptional performer. She plunged her audience into a
state of relaxed meditation – especially since the recital’s chosen motto was ‘Music To Dream
By’. Hinrichs introduced her nocturnal visitors to mystic aspects of music. These were not only
evident in works by the great Medieval mystic abbess Hildegard von Bingen, but also in the
sonatas of the Spanish priest Antonio Soler (1729–1783), whom Hinrichs has practically
‘The devil in monk’s garb’, that is how Padre Soler was labeled in his time: having reportedly
composed a total of 320 sacred works and 120 sonatas, he was a monk truly possessed by music.
‘The chance to express oneself through music is a great joy’, as Hinrichs affirms, and she
accomplishes this with a sensitive flair for the meditative qualities one can find in music. An artist
with a charming personality, Hinrichs made a previous appearance in the Weilburg Castle
Concert Series fifteen years ago, and one could tell that she was thrilled to have been re-invited.
Her goal as a performer is not to flaunt virtuoso effects for their own sake; instead, Hinrichs
radiates tranquility, gentleness, musical flair and sensitivity – as in Mozart’s Sonata K570, also
featured in Hinrichs’ recital. Written in Vienna in 1789, the B Flat Major Sonata weaves a musical
tapestry from simple motifs, a perfectly fitting style for nocturnal music.
Hildegard von Bingen’s writings are aglow with mysticism and visions, and the same effect can be
noted in her hymns, antiphons, sequences and responsories. Marie-Luise Hinrichs presented her
own piano arrangements of three plainchants by Hildegard: O virga ac diadema, De confessoribus and
Ave generosa. This all left a tremendous impression on the audience, just as the last piece in the
recital: Bach’s organ chorale prelude Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ in a piano arrangement by
Ferruccio Busoni (1886–1924). In sum, this recital was a highlight in the current season of
Weilburg Night Recitals, fittingly concluded by Hinrichs with the Brahms lullaby Guten Abend, gut
Nacht performed as a ‘piano song’. Thundering applause inspired her to return to the stage with a
“Soler wrote hundreds of secular sonatas: with their astounding sensuality, they still sound
modern today. [...] the works of Soler are always original and inspired. His music is also veiled
with a light patina of melancholy, as is quite often the case in truly significant composers,. Here,
on another entirely individual level, we are confronted with a long-ignored yet characteristic
Scarlatti trait: that brooding, almost depressive tendency to circle around certain motifs, figures
and harmonies in a style which practically foreshadows certain moods and patterns of minimal
If today we have once more become aware of these pieces’ bold modernity, it is thanks to pianist
Marie-Luise Hinrichs, who has now released her second CD with works by Soler. The ten
sonatas she has selected concretely cover a wide range of colors within Soler’s varying worlds of
expression: widely contrasting with one another, often broodingly wandering in Rembrandtesque
chiaroscuro. The sonatas in F Sharp Minor and C Sharp Minor are unusually long, leading us into
obscure harmonic labyrinths. On the other hand, the concise, rapid Sonata in F Minor develops
true dramatic drive, and the E Flat Major Sonata, with its swaying, panoramic tendency, almost
sounds like Classical Arcadia. A vast musical landscape opens up before our eyes.”
“Pleasant ‘night music’ is truly what Marie-Luise Hinrichs had in store for those who attended
last Saturday’s late night recital at the Weilburg Castle Lower Orangerie. If anyone in the audience
fell into a reverie, then they were missing out on music which, in itself, was beautiful as a dream.
From her instrument this pianist coaxed a truly unique sonority, far removed from the sound one
has come to expect in piano concerts. With Hinrichs’ fine nuances and wide variety of timbres,
the mighty grand piano radiated gentle brilliance. She devoted her Weilburg Castle Concert
programme to the two composers with whom she is most closely associated as a performer:
Padre Antonio Soler (1729-783) and Hildegard von Bingen (1089-1179).
Marie-Luise Hinrichs has already devoted two acclaimed CD releases to the Spanish priest’s
sonatas. Furthermore, since 2005, she has been delving ever more profoundly into the music of
the abbess from the banks of the River Rhine. Hinrichs is now convinced that Medieval
polymath Hildegard’s chants can produce a healing effect similar to the medicinal methods
practiced by the abbess and described in her famous writings. The three selected pieces Hinrichs
performed at the Lower Orangerie are obviously modern arrangements for piano. As she
recounts in the jacket notes to her CD, Hinrichs went about arranging the chants mostly by
singing them herself. In so doing, she also ‘taught’ her instrument to sing, as the audience in
Weilburg could attest.
Hinrichs began the evening with four Soler sonatas. Their gentle, placid tone soon created a
meditative atmosphere. Variety of tempo and dynamics were never lacking, however, since Soler
tends to focus freely or more intensely on themes which he treats with an astounding degree of
For the audience, Hinrichs’ interpretation was naturally in the foreground, as she managed to
breathe new life into these 18th-century works with her own particular piano touch and musical
flair. One can observe the importance of a pianist’s personality in interpretation by comparing
the next piece she performed – Mozart’s Piano Sonata in B Flat Major K570 – with a version by
Alfred Brendel, for instance. Marie-Luise Hinrichs highlights the themes’ melodiousness and
handles faster tempi with caution. The themes’ contours are by no means obscured, but their
effect is consciously held back. Many members of the audience closed their eyes, listening
intensely as the music took form under the pianist’s gentle hands. They were subsequently able to
hear her arrangements of Hildegard’s compositions, and, remarkably, an entirely different musical
atmosphere immediately set in: church interiors, sacred chants and the plain elegance of Medieval
music all emerged in our mind’s eye. The pianist herself also metamorphosed and seemed to
enter into close contact with Hildegard herself. In spite of the elaborate tasks she had to
accomplish at the piano, Hinrichs was visibly free and relaxed – a feeling she also conveyed to the
members of the audience, who could not get enough of this music. After the concert, what a
relief that one could purchase Hinrichs’ CD Vocation in order to take these ‘piano chants’ back
“Marie-Luise Hinrichs skillfully pairs Medieval Christian chants with Oriental piano pieces. Both
share a basically meditative atmosphere, while a further exotic timbre is introduced by the
additional Arabian melodic touch in the Gurdjieff pieces. [...]
Cologne pianist Hinrichs approaches these works with full, well-rounded, melodic touch; her
legatissimo playing in the monophonic chants enables her to achieve something close to
polyphony. She uses the entire span of the piano keyboard, sometimes switching octave registers
in the melody, and enhancing the usual keyboard sonority with well-dosed instances of plucking
on the piano strings. That is how these intimate ‘piano chants’ take form.”
“With the presentation of Debussy’s complete 24 Preludes, the Rheingau Music Festival featured
one of the most outstanding works of the entire piano repertoire on two successive evenings in
the Fürst-von-Metternich Hall of Castle Johannisberg. In the first recital Marie-Luise Hinrichs
performed the 12 preludes of the cycle’s second volume.
The young artist approached this portion of the musical cosmos with spectacular dexterity,
finding her way with sensitivity into the finely woven network of sounds in the introductory
prelude Brouillards – a progressive piece way ahead of its time – and in Feuilles mortes. She
highlighted the Spanish color in La puerta del vino with a pronounced habanera rhythm, and traced
Debussy’s reverential bow to Charles Dickens in the solemn, later distortedly grimacing quote
from ‘God Save the Queen’ in Hommage à S. Pickwick.
Hinrichs played Les tierces alternées in best virtuoso form; then, her energetic, determined hands
transformed the last piece Feux d’artifice into a brilliant finale with a well-controlled, bouncy
This talented pianist’s playing is impeccable; her control of sound and touch is admirably and
wisely conceived, sublimely illuminating the clarity of every note.
In the first half of the recital Hinrichs performed 12 sonatas by Spanish composer Antonio Soler
(1729-1783). In these musical miniatures one could clearly make out the influence of his teacher
Domenico Scarlatti thanks to their improvisational character, the style of the cadences and Soler’s
use of decorative ornaments.
Technically flawless and applying well thought-out structure throughout, Hinrichs offered a clear,
precise rendition – also mastering the arpeggiated fiorituras with brilliant aplomb. Hinrichs is always on the lookout for works outside the usual repertoire. This has led her to study
the music of Hildegard von Bingen, the Medieval abbess of Rupertsberg (a cloister lying on the
outskirts of the Rheingau region). Written in the 12th century and surviving only in the form of
plainchant melodies, Hildegard’s music has frequently been instrumentally and vocally expanded
in modern arrangements. Hinrichs, in her version, places a pedal point in the left hand, crosses
over to the upper registers to add a glittering cluster, and lets the right hand play out the
monophonic chant melody in the style of a sacred antiphon. After enthusiastic applause at the
end of the recital, she added a further chant by the famous cloister abbess in her own adaptation
as an encore.”
“Framed by Beethoven, Bach and Prokofiev, the evening’s two true discoveries were the sonata
gems of Father Antonio Soler and the melodies of Medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen
arranged for piano by Marie-Luise Hinrichs. Delicately and movingly transcribed for the
keyboard, the chants by the influential abbess transported the audience into the very heart of the
Middle Ages. [...]
The three selected one-movement sonatas by Soler are true gems. They depict the most varied
atmospheres and reflect a wide range of emotions, from cheerful to reflective moods.
With true empathy Hinrichs unearthed these buried, profusely ornamented sonata treasures
written by a monk who was one of the great Spanish figures of his age. Hinrichs then offered a
final touch of Gregorian chant in her personal, entirely unique handwriting: her own arrangement
of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ave generosa. Transporting the audience to the stillness and isolation of
a cloister, the delicate, meditative ‘piano chant’ captivated them with profound mysticism. A truly
“Marie-Luise Hinrichs has recently made herself a name with a series of CD releases: here she
performed three gorgeous sonatas by the Spanish monk whose pieces – meditative, at the same
time thrilling – are much too seldom performed.
A rarity was presented with the second work of the evening: Hildegard von Bingen’s Ave generosa
arranged for piano by Hinrichs herself. As opposed to the current esoteric colonization of the
Medieval mystic’s oeuvre, here there was no need to cry ‘Hands off of Hildegard!’, since the
result of Hinrichs’ experiment is certainly worth hearing. Here the music of the 11th century is
convincingly grafted onto a keyboard instrument which was invented much later.”
“... the piano version results in something profoundly moving; one pictures oneself on a musical
journey that transcends any sort of period or time barrier. [...] Hinrichs is not only the performer
in this case, but also the composer. Although each of these ‘piano chants’ contains an original
melody by Hildegard von Bingen, Hinrichs adds modal accompaniment parts resulting in a quilt
of sound that not only harks back to Medieval organum chants, but also reminds one of the
impressionist piano pieces of Debussy, or of Erik Satie’s Gnosiennes.”
“Pianist Marie-Luise Hinrichs has made Soler’s keyboard compositions a mission for life. ‘I heard
Soler for the first time when I was 16, in Spain, and the music deeply moved me. Back then I was
already certain I would later be playing lots of his music. Improvising church modes, the Dorian
in particular, is something I find fascinating.’
One feels that close connection in every fiber of her performance. Her playing is passionate and
accurate at the same time; the numerous mordents reminiscent of Scarlatti are rendered with
unpretentious elegance. It is a great pleasure to hear Antonio Soler in Hinrichs’ hands.”
“At the point when Hinrichs made the wide arcs of Hildegard’s hymn O virga ac diadema resound,
the auditorium seemed to transform itself into the interior of a cathedral”
“In her piano transcriptions she takes the barren monophony of cloister chants and enriches
them with gently flowing additional parts. Like a cautious painter-restorer, she adds chosen dots
of color to the original drawing, as in Hildegard’s hymn O frondens virga.”
Matthias Corvin, Kölner Rundschau, March 2008
Excerpt from an interview with German author Hanns-Josef Ortheil:
What objects disturb you or assist you when you are writing?
“... [What helps when I am writing is] well-chosen music: never vocal or orchestral, exclusively
solo instruments and slow, soft, meditative pieces. I find that the chants of Hildegard von
Bingen, played on the modern grand piano by Marie-Luise Hinrichs (Vocation) are a marvelous