You have to have guts for that: at a concert, first playing and/or conducting Weber's First Clarinet Concerto plus two of his own works, and then Mendelssohn's monumental Fifth Symphony. The devilish artist Jörg Widmann can and dares.
Struggle with matter
Yet Widmann's Versuch über die Fuge, which he conducts here in an arrangement for soprano, oboe and a chamber orchestra of strings and two bassoons, is about an atypical struggle with the material for the super-virtuoso composer. 'Versuch over…'; this is how textbook titles such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen began. A Versuch über die Fuge is a different story, but the piece, created in 2005 as the Fifth String Quartet, is what the strange title promises.
Mendelssohn's 'Reformation' Symphony
Widmann tentatively determines his relationship to a technique that, at least up to and including Johann Sebastian Bach, was the touchstone for a composer's craft skills. And it no longer works. The unapproachable contrapuntal order from the grand masters to Bach remains a distant memory or an unattainable dream. The biblical vanitas theme of the text refers to the futility of striving: Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas – all is vanity. It is typical of Widmann that he closes such a program almost ironically with the composer he reveres for whom the art of fugue is still the most normal thing in the world: Felix Mendelssohn.