Reviews of Alma’s piano and violin concertos
Flying fingers, grand music. Jubilation at the opening concert of the Carinthian Summer. She has everything required from a Wunderkind, and even a little bit more: Alma Deutscher, who at 12 is not just a double instrumental virtuoso, but composes in the style of the great masters. And above that, she captures in a moment the hearts of the public with her grace and charm. So was it on Sunday in the Congress Centre Villach.
The opening concert of the Carinthian Summer, with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra thoughtfully and engagingly conducted by Joji Hattori, turned into a triumph of creativity. The music that Alma presents with her fingers flying over strings and keys sounds familiar, but this is not meant in any way derogatively, but rather demonstrates her extensive musical knowledge and highly developed aesthetic sensitivity. Alma wants to write ‘beautiful music’ for people, as she often declares herself. And beautiful music was indeed to be heard, bound to the Classic and above all Romantic, and following the great models of Mozart, Mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky. Whether it is her overture ‘Dance of the Mermaids’ from 2015, or her sparkling violin concerto no. 1 in g-minor, or the world-premiere of her delightful and nuance-rich piano concerto in E-flat major: these are agile, powerful, festive tones, with which this (still) child, with her evident and sometimes mischievous lightness of being, creates musical wonders. Alma thanked the audience for the great applause with an improvisation on notes blindly drawn out (from a bag). Kronenzeitung, 18.7.2017, Andrea Hein.
Amazing sounds of a miracle child. Composer and soloist Alma Deutscher (12) caused jubilation at the opening of the Carinthian Summer Festival. Alma Deutscher thrilled with enormous virtuosity and self-assured maturity.
She is only twelve years old. At the tender age of two she began playing the piano, with three the violin, with four she began to compose. Among other works, she wrote the opera “Cinderella”, premiered in 2016. And so it did not take long for Alma Deutscher to be receive the epithet “Wunderkind”. Zubin Mehta even described her as one of the greatest musical talents. Now one could experience the British girl as a composer and as a soloist at the opening concert of the Carinthian Summer in the sold-out Congress Center Villach. Her music is tonal, very catchy, and sounds very romantic and reminiscent of Mozart, Mendelssohn etc., but is exquisitely crafted. She herself emphasizes in her interviews that she wants to write “beautiful” music and calmly takes into account that she will be called old-fashioned. After her pretty overture, “Dance of the Mermaids”), one listened to the revised violin concerto, in which Deutscher also played the solo violin: sensitive and clean is her playing, but it can also be absolutely gripped with energy. Her enormous virtuosity and self-assured maturity surprised. In the end, she could be heard as the pianist in the premiere of her first piano concerto: here too, many fine tones and a surprisingly advanced technique. She was accompanied very carefully by the Viennese chamber orchestra under Joji Hattori. And because the jubilation of the audience did not end, Alma gave a pianistic encore – and what an encore! She let different members of the audience draw notes from a little bag. And she began to improvise over these four tones, and the sparks were flying. Kleine Zeitung, 18 Jul 2017, Helmut Christian
Reviews of Cinderella
Eleven-year-old Alma Deutscher sparkles with her first opera. World Premiere of “Cinderella” at the Casino Baumgarten in Vienna: The opera of the eleven-year-old British composer Alma Deutscher sparkles with original ideas. Vienna – This evening at Casino Baumgarten, Alma Deutscher is almost everywhere. She accompanies Cinderella from the piano, suddenly stands on the stage next to the main character, and plays on the violin delicate second voice to the fairy tale character. Then Alma Deutscher also sings in one scene and during the break gives autograms quite cheerfully. Amazingly relaxed is this amazing girl who wrote this amazingly good opera herself. Stylistically Cinderella moves carefree between Viennese Classic and earlier Romantic. From this inventory of music history, however, emerge remarkable inspirations, which understand the psychological corset of the characters. Here, someone with a great deal of empathy moves into the characters. And she also understands how to build scenes, keep them in tension, and orchestrate dense atmospheres. Alma Deutscher proves talent for the humorous as well as the melancholy. Ljubisa Tosic, Der Standard, 12/2016.
The opera is indeed astonishing. So astonishing, that Zubin Mehta assumed the patronage of the production in Casino Baumgarten in Vienna. To be sure, the opera does not engage with the music of our time; rather, Alma soaked the various currents of the later 18th and 19th century. It all sounds a bit like Mozart, or Schubert, or Tchaikovsky. But never in such a way that one feels one is greeting anything too familiar. Everything has its own originality. And, above all, Alma Deutscher has processed her ideas in a highly professional manner; the instrumentation is stupendous, the dramaturgy is right. Despite the almost three hours of length (with break), there’s not one moment of boredom. Gerhard Persché, OPERNWELT, 02/2017.
Perhaps opera, which has so often been pronounced dead, can now finally gain a new life force, when it returns to melody. The brilliant child Alma could have a contribution to that. Robert Schediwy, Der Standard, 1/2017.
There are always miracles: The Renaissance of the German Singspiel. Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky are her favorite composers, and one hears it in her music, although the celestial opening of Alma Deutscher’s “Cinderella” makes one think also of the first measures of Strauss’s Danube Waltz, as well as the waves in Wagner’s Rheingold. What follows is, so to speak, the resurrection of the German Singspiel, an opera rich in melodies, strongly influenced by Viennese classics, whose fine orchestration is interspersed with spoken dialogues. Such references to the composer’s reliance on the past do not deflect from the intense amazement with which she was greeted during the Viennese premiere at the beautiful Casino Baumgarten. On the contrary, the composer, who also played the violin during the performance, accompanied the piano and also briefly jumps on the stage as a singer is – with her mere 11 years of age – undoubtedly a miracle…. It soon became clear: Deutscher’s “Cinderella” is far more than a children’s opera. Enjoyable and at the same time of high musical quality, it is presumably not a work that will disappear after the premiere. Stephen Burianek, Orpheus Magazine 02/2017
Alma Deutscher’s musical role models come from the Viennese classics and the 19th century. What is really perplexing is that the composer can capture wonderfully different moods of the soul. The sad ballad of Cinderella, which is a constantly recurring in leitmotiv, the despair of the unworldly prince-poet, who shows no interest at all in the affairs of government, the evil of the ladies’ trio: everything is congenially cast into music. It all sounds truly inspired – and also in the instrumentation, as if the artist always knew exactly what she wanted to do. There is nothing arbitrary or left to chance. Karl Masek, Der neue Merke 12/2016.
Conductor Zubin Mehta on Alma Deutscher
“One of the greatest musical talents today.” (Nov. 2016)
Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter on Alma Deutscher
“It is absolutely extraordinary what this young girl has managed to achieve on the violin, the piano, and in her compositions. Her musical sensitivity and her powers of expression already at this age underline her exceptional talent.” (Mitteilungen der Anne-Sophie Mutter Stiftung, Dec. 2015)
Composer and Clarinettist Jörg Widmann on Alma Deutscher
Q: What impressions did you form from your first meeting with Alma Deutscher?
JW: Alma is an extraordinary phenomenon and at the same time such a lovely girl. When she smiles, your heart wants to laugh too…
Q: Have you ever met a talent like Alma Deutscher?
JW: Not in this extreme degree. At the moment she composes in the style of the past and swims there like a fish in water. Her talent on the piano and the violin is also striking. She has everything. (Mitteilungen der Anne-Sophie Mutter Stiftung, Jul. 2016)
Musicologist Ron Weidberg on Alma’s compositions
Alma’s most important talent is the perfect connection between her inner world and the melodies she creates, which are so beautiful because they stem directly from this inner world. Few composers can write such tunes, which from the first moment are immediately impressed upon our memory, and thus turn into the possession of all those who listen to them. Alma is one of these composers, and this is why we are confident that the melodies Alma is writing now will remain with us even when we grow up, and when we ourselves no longer remain the same as we were. (June 2015)
Review of Alma’s début concert with a symphony orchestra, in Oviedo
Then Alma Deutscher came onto the stage, with a violin in her hands, and her face lit up with happiness, dressed entirely in white, airily radiant as a cloud. Throughout the whole concert there had persisted a kind of hazy noise, an unavoidable murmur from some of the hundreds of young children in the auditorium who were getting restless. But when Alma started to play her little 200 year old Italian violin, that haze of noise dissipated as if by a magic art. More than 500 speechless children stared at her. It’s truly incredible that the two movements of her violin concerto, which she premièred in Oviedo, and the Dance of the Solent Mermaids, are so accomplished, also in their orchestration…. Those of us who play a string instrument were stunned by her playing. If this is the first time she has played with an orchestra, we can’t even imagine what the next performances will be like. All children have a soul, Alma, in addition, has a soul for the stage (in Spanish: alma means ‘soul’). She was born with it. (Joaquín Veldeón, La Nueva España, 25.1.2015)
Review of Alma’s performance at the Voice of Music Festival in the Galillee, 2013
If someone had accidentally entered the first half of the opening concert, he would no doubt have assumed that the Piano Trio was composed by a major composer, probably Viennese, from the early years of the nineteenth century. The participation of the little violinist Alma Deutscher (born 2005), playing with captivating sound, would have perhaps surprised him a little, but would not have challenged the stylistic identification. But no: it turns out that Deutscher, in a wondrous display of stylistic understanding and taste, composed the trio herself, and before it she played – this time on the piano – a sonata that she wrote as well, here in eighteenth century style. (Noam Ben-Zeev, Haaretz, 31.7.2013)