Celebra dieci anni di carriera il duo BartolomeyBittmann, e lo fa con un album intitolato “z e h n” che uscirà venerdì, proprio il giorno del loro primo concerto a Trieste, al Teatro Miela alle 21.30. Matthias Bartolomey al violoncello e Klemens Bittmann al violino e mandola, propongono una musica difficile da catalogare, dove la classica incontra i generi moderni. Non amano, però, l’etichetta “crossover”, per cui per identificarsi hanno coniato l’espressione “progressive strings Vienna”. Le loro alte formazioni accademiche partono dalle università di Vienna e Graz, ma le loro performance non sconfinano mai nel mero virtuosismo.
«Ora che collaboriamo con un’agenzia italiana – raccontano – suoniamo più spesso in Italia e abbiamo l’impressione che la nostra proposta sposi bene i gusti del suo pubblico. Il nostro è un mix tra acustica, strumenti classici e progressive con elementi di rock, pop e metal».
Che concerto portate al Miela?
«Sarà il live di presentazione del nostro quarto disco “z e h n”, che uscirà il giorno stesso. Il titolo significa dieci in tedesco ed è, appunto, una celebrazione dei nostri dieci anni assieme. È il lavoro più maturo finora, abbiamo raggiunto una forma di dialogo musicale forte. Suonare questo repertorio dal vivo è appagante, è a quella dimensione che la nostra musica appartiene».
Come si trova l’equilibrio in duo?
«È importante capire quando devi imporre il tuo flusso creativo e quando invece devi seguire l’intuizione dell’altro, questo vale per qualsiasi attività di squadra».
Qual è il ruolo di innovazione e tradizione per voi?
«Il legame tra le due è uno degli elementi centrali del nostro duo. Suoniamo strumenti che sono vecchi duecento, trecento anni. La nostra idea era di portarli fuori dalla loro tradizione classica profondamente radicata e condurli su sentieri nuovi e avvicinarci ai generi musicali con i quali siamo cresciuti: rock, jazz, pop. Il nostro obiettivo è sempre stato sviluppare un repertorio unico per i nostri strumenti senza paura di superare confini di genere».
Il vostro progetto nasce a Vienna. La città ha influenzato il vostro suono?
«Sicuramente ha avuto un impatto sul nostro modo di scrivere e comporre. Questo non vuol dire che troverete citazioni di Johann Strauss o di Lanner nei nostri pezzi: l’influenza viennese è più astratta. Non arrangiamo mai pezzi classici, la nostra filosofia è di creare e diffondere composizioni originali».
Che peso date a intelletto e anima nel processo creativo?
«Cerchiamo di raccontare storie, che certamente vengono dall’anima. Da quello stesso spirito che è responsabile della nostra determinazione. Ma senza la parte intellettuale, nella musica come nella vita, e senza la disciplina nel lavorare a qualcosa che sia stimolante per noi e il pubblico, sarebbe piuttosto noioso. A volte ci dicono che alcune parti delle nostre composizioni sono complicate: noi non pensiamo sia così, anche i passaggi più difficili da interpretare, per noi sono naturali».
«Il focus del 2022 sarà la presentazione del nostro “z e h n”, il calendario è bello pieno, a maggio per la prima volta terremo due date in Sicilia, e poi Cello Biënnale ad Amsterdam, molti palchi in Germania e Austria, un tour in Romania e nel 2023 per la seconda volta in Giappone. Inoltre, siamo entrambi felici di insegnare alle università Mozarteum di Salisburgo e KUG di Graz. Lavorare con i giovani è sempre grande fonte di ispirazione, e ti fa avere prospettive nuove per il futuro».
Elisa Russo, Il Piccolo 21 Aprile 2022
So you’ve performed in Italy many times what do you know/think/like about our country and do you know of any italian artist/musician/band?
Matthias: Italy has become one of our favourite destinations for concerts!
It is a mixture of many things: We have fallen in love with the people, the venues, the cities and last but not the least the amazing food. We are very much looking forward to discover more and more of Italy and hopefully meet more and more of its amazing musicians and bands.
You will be in Trieste soon. Have you already played here?
Klemens: We have not played in Trieste before, so we are very happy to play our music in front of the public in Trieste for the first time. Since a couple of years we are working together with an italien music-agency, therefore we are playing now more often in this beautiful country of culture and famous music history. We love Italy and we definitely have the feeling that our BartolomeyBittmann music somehow fits with the italien music taste. I have the impression, since playing quite some concerts in Italy, that cultural interested people in Italy like our mix between acoustic, classical instruments and progressive new music with elements of Rock, Pop and Metal.
What can fans expect to see at your Trieste show at Teatro Miela on April 22nd?
Matthias: Our show on April 22nd will also be incidentaly the official release concert of our 4th Album z e h n.
It is the date that the record will be released everywhere. This will make this concert even more special to us and we will mainly perfom pieces and compositions from our current album.
What can you tell me about your last album “Zehn”?
Klemens: It’s title is the celebration of our last ten years of cooperation, “zehn” means “ten” in German. As being composer and musicians at the same time, we have the feeling that our newest album “z e h n” is probably the most consistent and most mature recording and live-program. I have the belief that after ten years of continuously working together Matthias and I have found a strong form of musical dialogue. When it comes to composing as a duo and as a team, it’s most important to realize when to lead the creative process and when to follow and support the ideas of your companion. I believe that on the album “z e h n” we found a strong story of sound and of playing. So we love to play this repertoire, especially live, because that’s where our music really belongs to, BartolomeyBittmann gets alive on stage.
Can you talk a little bit about the roles of old and new, tradition and innovation, in your work?
The releation between tradition and innovation has been one of the core elements of BartolomeyBittmann since the beginning of the duo. We play instruments that are between 200 and 300 years old. It has been of of the main ideas of our Duo to lead our instruments out of their deeply rooted classical tradition to new musical pathways and approach them with the musical genres that we grew up with. You will therefor find elements of Rock, Jazz and Pop music all over our pieces. The main goal of BartolomeyBittmann has always been to develope and establish a unique repertoire for our instruments without the fear of crossing the borders of different genres.
What was the music that influenced you and shaped your own vision?
Klemens: There are many different influences, Matthias and I are artistically coming from a generation where groove orientated music and rhythm is an important factor. We both definitely love the baroque and the classical field. Somehow we will always stay very much connected to our music history and to these fantastic eras when playing a cello or a violin. But of course our generation background like Jazz, Rock/Pop or Metal music is a big element of what we want to compose and play on stage. For us there is no border between these rather unusual styles for classical instruments and the possibility to create these sounds or grooves on our rather old instruments. The cello and the violin were build in the baroque era and my Mandola has it’s instrumental-roots in the renaissance time. To name a couple of important ensembles that always will be inspiring for us: EST Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Radiohead, Bach, Mozart & Schubert, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sting, but there are so many more…
What do you personally consider to be incisive moments in your work and/or career?
Matthias: Celebrating our 10 year Duo anniversary we are definitely lucky to have had many incisive and memorable moments in our career so far. But the true incisive moment for both Klemens and me was the beginning and founding of BartolomeyBittmann itself. Back then we met at the right time at the right spot, ready to dedicate our main focus and energy to this new ensemble.
What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
Klemens: That’s very much depending on the musical era and style. In our BartolomeyBittmann music we try to tell and compose stories and for sure these stories are coming out of our souls. The soul spirit that Matthias and I share is also responsible for our determination to work and create together. Our philosophy when it comes to music we want to play is very much relying on that shared inner core of soul. But without the intellectual part in music and basically in life and without the discipline to work continuously on something that is also challenging for us and for the public, it would be boring. We are often confronted with feedback to our music that tells us that some parts of our compositions are “complicated” or “demanding”. We do not feel this way, but maybe we are too much into our music, so it is hard for us to tell. For sure we never try to compose something complicated, we compose as musicians, as instrumentalists. That means that it has to be “playable” and good “in our hands”, even if it is hard to play, it should not be only intellectually demanding.
I read that you define yourself “progressive strings vienna” and otherwise you don’t like the definition “crossover”. What else can you tell me about the genres you play? And how much Vienna influenced your sound?
Matthias: Progressive strings vienna tries to incorporate the vision and the spirit of our duo. We covered the ‚progressive’ part in question Nr.5 — vienna has been the cradle of our ensemble and has definitely had and impact on how we write and compose our music. Especially in the beginning vienna was where it all happened. You will nevertheless never find for instance any Johann Strauß or Lanner quotes in our pieces so you have to think about the viennese influence in a more abstact way.
It is true, we try to avoid the term ‚crossover‘ since it had inicially been used for more shallow musical projects that take a little bit of classical music and maybe add a drum breat or anything else that would make it ‚different‘ and more ‚accessible‘.
As BartolomeyBittmann we are taking our endeavour quite seriously and very conciously never arranged anything classical. Our philosophy lies within the creation and developement of our own sound, our own compositions and our own repertoire. Therefor we take inspiration from the music that we grew up with. After all that is was culture and culturall exchange in general is all about: You soak up what surrounds you and eventually make it your own.
What’s happening next, is there anything upcoming and in the works already?
Klemens: The main BartolomeyBittmann focus in 2022 is on presenting our album and our program “z e h n”. Touring and playing our music live has always been the central thing in our cooperation besides composing. We are happy that our booking calendar is already well filled with interesting concert dates, including two concerts in Sicily in the end of May for the first time. There will be concerts at the Cello Biennale Amsterdam, many stages in Germany an Austria, a tour in Romania and in 2023 our second tour to Japan. Apart from that Matthias and I are happy to teach at music universities in Mozarteum Salzburg and KUG Graz. The work with students and young string instrumentalists is always inspiring and giving our duo work lots of new perspectives for the future.