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Pianistin Marie-Luise Hinrichs

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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 opened her recital at Keppel Monastery with the Prelude, Sarabande and Minuet from J. S. Bach’s Partita No. I BWV 825, winning over the audience with her warm, subtly nuanced tone and restrained use of the pedal. Thus the highly expressive Sarabande acquired a slightly Romantic touch. The audience was likewise thoroughly pleased with her fine-spun rendition of four Scarlatti sonatas, brimming with trills and mordents. […]

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.
After the intermission, Marie-Luise Hinrichs performed a series of miniature animal portraits, lightheartedly explaining that they stemmed from her own observation of animals (it was therefore fitting that the concert proceedings went to the Society for the Protection of Animals). Thus, in intriguingly brief, memorable portraits, she offered musical characterizations of her own dog named Stella and of her neighbors’ cat Meo, along with a series of rabbits, mice, birds, butterflies and a fox.

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.
Siegener Zeitung, March 1st, 2016


“She is a master of extreme clarity, of gorgeously resounding liveliness.”
Guido Fischer, Piano News

“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 experience!”
Monika Salzmann, Der Westen

“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 Hinrichs’ hands.”
Rafael Sala, Piano News

“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.”
Larissa Schütz, Rhein-Zeitung, 2 October 2012

“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 rediscovered. ‘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 second encore.”
Willibald Schenk, Nassauische Neue Presse, 24 July 2012

“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 music. 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.”
Gerhard R. Koch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 September 2008

“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 versatility. 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 home.”
Klaus P. Andriessen, Weilburger Tageblatt/Wetzlarer Zeitung, 24 July 2012

“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.”
Mario-Felix Vogt, Fono Forum, January 2010

“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 touch. 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.”
Richard Hörnicke, Wiesbadener Tagblatt; 18 July 2008

“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 unique experience!”
From a review by Monika Salzmann, Der Westen, 21 April 2008

“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.”
Thomas Krumm, Lüdenscheider Zeitung, 21 April 2008

“... 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.”
Wolfgang Schicker, Bayrischer Rundfunk, 14 March 2010

“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.”
Rafael Sala, Piano News, December 2008

“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”
Robert Nemecek, Piano News, December 2009

“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 help...”
DIE ZEIT, November 2011



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