Dominik Wollenweber once said that he had plenty of time to listen. When everyone is quiet in the orchestra - at the beginning of the Largo in Dvořák's "From the New World" or when the shepherd comes at the beginning of the third act of "Tristan und Isolde" - then he plays. And everything becomes even quieter. And people take out their handkerchiefs.
Dominik Wollenweber is the English horn player in the Berlin Philharmonic. And he is – not only because he measures 2.04 meters, Gräfelfinger, born in 1967, has to constantly endure the joke – what is not on any other instrument: the greatest. You want to put your cor anglais in the corner, which would be a shame, when he starts. Everything is round about this sound, everything floats, everything is inspired. An enormous calm settles over the Philharmonie.
Wollenweber started with the flute. He stuttered as a child. Music was a kind of therapy for him, a sonic speech that never faltered. At the age of 14, Wollenweber switched to the oboe and has continued a family tradition ever since – his father was an English horn player in Munich. Then everything happened pretty quickly. Since he was 22, since 1989, he has been hovering over the Berlin Philharmonic as solo cor anglais when they are quiet.
The cor anglais has little to do with England and much to do with its historical arch-enemy. Cor Anglais was the French name for the alto oboe. What could come from "anglé" (an earlier expansion stage was salvaged, the metal attachment on which you put your double reed is still curved) or from "Ange", because angels in pictures like to play instruments that resemble English horns.
The cor anglais is tuned a fifth lower, it is a third longer than the oboe. Due to the pear-shaped bell at the end, known as the "love foot", the English horn sounds more human, gentler and more melancholic than its high sister instrument.
Dominik Wollenweber once said that English horn players always have to be sad – that was a joke. It's totally true that every note, especially when it sounds the way Wollenweber plays it, is extremely hard work, as he once said. But with Wollenweber you never notice it.
He hesitated for a long time for his first solo album. There isn't that much original literature. In fact, there is next to nothing. A concert by Donizetti. Very pretty chamber music by Beethoven for oboe trio. Wollenweber had to come up with something when he finally allowed himself to be persuaded to do "The Art of the English Horn".
Of course, apart from the solo in the Sinfonie Fantastique, all the cor anglais hits are played there – Dvořák, of course, and Sibelius’s “Swan of Tuonela” and Wagner’s shepherd’s song from “Tristan”. But he had a three-movement cor anglais concerto composed of Bach's Easter Oratorio.
And he threw himself headfirst into Jean Françaix's comical, not at all sad English horn quartet, to banish all the rumors about the depressed cor anglais player. For this album he now gets the Opus Klassik in Berlin as instrumentalist of the year.
On October 9th, the Opus, the most important German award for classical music, will be presented in Berlin. WELT AM SONNTAG readers can vote for the audience award for the best classical video clip. More than 50 proposals were submitted. Our classical music experts Manuel Brug and Elmar Krekeler have put together a shortlist from which you can choose your favourites.
Go to www.welt.de/klassikpreis and watch the artists' six videos. You can then vote for the post you liked the most. Fill out the participation registration and with a little luck you could win an unforgettable classical music night in Berlin. Legal recourse and cash payment are excluded. Employees of Axel Springer SE and the partners involved in the competition are excluded from participation. Participation only possible from Germany and permitted from the age of 18. The winners will be drawn from all participants. The closing date for entries is September 25th.
You can win five times two tickets (own arrival and departure) for the ceremonial award ceremony of the opus on October 9th in the Berlin Konzerthaus. Moderated by Désirée Nosbusch.