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Recorder31 — Day 21

Recorder31 — Day 21

For Day 21 of Recorder31, we caught up with recorder player Anna Stegmann and discussed her brand new release with Jorge Jiménez, entitled ZENITHClick here to buy the album from Anna's website or click here to stream.

Read on to find out more about ZENITH as well as Anna's advice for choosing recorders and more!

Please introduce yourself to any of our readers who haven't yet come across your work!

I’m Anna Stegmann, a German-born recorder player. I’m passionate about teaching the recorder, for instance at the Royal Academy of Music where I teach a small and enthusiastic group of future recorder professionals. Or at week-long gatherings of 100+ recorder enthusiasts where you encounter players of all ages and levels, such as the Recorder Summer School. The other half of my time I spend performing with my own ensembles such as Ensemble Odyssee and The Royal Wind Music (keep an eye out for the Royal Wind Music's Recorder31 Day 22 showcase tomorrow!). During the pandemic I have created my own online recital series “Fantasy & Design”, which has encouraged me to play more solo concerts (something I thought I’d never do – until I did!). Since 2019 I have collaborated with violinist Jorge Jiménez – possibly the most adventurous programming I’ve done thus far.


Your new album "ZENITH" with Jorge Jiménez was released earlier this month. Tell us a little bit about your collaboration and the music you make together.

One of the most exciting things about our collaboration is that there is nearly no original repertoire existent for recorder and violin. Almost everything we play has to be created from scratch, arranged, and commissioned. What felt scary at first has become our strongest side and makes working together a really fun and creative process. Even more so: I feel this obvious lack of original repertoire has challenged us to rethink the concepts of our live recitals and programming: Which musical journey do we want to take our audience on? Which supporting themes can let them imagine the musical world we envisioned and make for a meaningful concert experience? How can we connect short pieces and different musical styles to tell a fluent musical story?


The album features music by composers who aren't often associated with the recorder, such as Béla Bartók, Chick Corea and Erik Satie. How do you go about selecting the music you play?

Our programmes include anything from mediaeval repertoire, improvisation, own compositions, arrangements… you name it. Next to a few original compositions, for instance the modern piece "Nadir" by Christos Hatzis, we have experimented a lot with works originally composed for keyboard instruments, such as Corea’s Children’s Songs. The sound world of those short gems felt natural to adapt, hardly any “arrangement" was needed at all. With the possibility of our two different musical voices interpreting this music originally thought for one homogenous sounding instrument, a whole new wealth of colours unfolds. Ultimately we want the music to touch the listener and become part of a programme where different musical styles and extremes are allowed to exist next to each to serve one narrative.


Which recorders did you choose to play on the album?

I usually try to make use of many different sizes and styles of recorders and also in ZENITH you will find anything from a drone played on a beautiful renaissance Rafi bass build by Francesco LiVirghi to a fast bubbling soprano recorder. But in the end I always try to find an instrument which serves the sound of a piece, blends with or distinguishes itself from the violin, and offers me the best possibilities for expressing the music. I love the process of searching for the perfect sound match and for ZENITH this turned out to be very often a tenor recorder. Next to an original piece for viola, tape, and tenor recorder, you will hear me play a very melancholic Bartók piece on a dark sounding Ganassi-style tenor and Corea and Ciconia on a Rafi-style renaissance tenor recorder. 


Do you have any advice for our customers who might be looking to buy a new recorder? What do you look out for when choosing a new instrument?

That is difficult to generalise. I would advice to try a few instruments before buying one (instead of for instance ordering one instrument online or without comparison to other instruments). That is also true for some of the factory made instruments you potentially could easily order online. We are very lucky today that there are so many fantastic makers around that build in different styles, often according to very different sound philosophies. Every player has their own way of blowing; and what suits one doesn’t need to be a good choice for another. So I would advice to try an instrument in person, maybe in a shop, at an exhibition or by means of having a selection of recorders send to your home. It can be helpful to have a more experienced player or teacher listen and advice. But in the end, next to some objectives of course, an instrument needs to sound good on you and feel good in your hands. 


Do you have any other projects on the horizon which we should look out for?

As well as finally touring ZENITH with Jorge starting this autumn, I’m hugely looking forward to present my solo programme “Fantasy & Design” in Australia to a real audience at the beginning of 2023. I wouldn’t have imagined myself performing a solo recital like this two years ago, but I now love the challenge and are glad that promoters still see potential in having someone play solo recorder on stage. There are plans to bring both ZENITH and my solo programme to the UK as well. Hopefully you can hear us perform live soon!

And finally, tell us how we can buy and listen to the new album!
We would love if you buy the album from us (for instance via my website, but of course you can find it on all the usual platforms and online shops as well. So give us a listen and if you like, please share your thoughts with us!
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