Alma Deutscher

Reviews

Reviews of Cinderella in San Jose, Dec 2017

“A twelve-year-old British girl has written an opera of astounding wit, craft, and musical beauty… Deutscher has an effervescent sense of musical humor. The resulting complications from the switched medical prescription are musically and dramatically hilarious… The sheer amount of orchestral and vocal invention is stunning. Deutscher’s most impressive accomplishment is her mastery of the classical tradition’s rich resources for expressing dramatic conflict…. A smart producer would mount Cinderella on Broadway. In addition to its comedic force, its score puts recent musicals to shame, whether from the Disney franchise or Andrew Lloyd Webber.” (Heather Mac Donald in The New Criterion, May 2018)

“a young talent’s sensational burst to prominence, and a buoyant production of the highest professional standard combined to make this the once-in-a-lifetime opera-going event that had audiences standing and cheering.” (Opera Today, 22.12.2017)

“In a time of doubt and suspicion, hate and war-mongering, to find a voice as original and as uplifting as Alma Deutscher’s, is more than a gift – it is hope. And the little child will lead them? Indeed. Alma’s original rendition of the classic fairy tale in music and song, is a chord to resound in our lives day after day. The variations in the story are more than mere variants: they are little stars themselves: a girl who has music that leaps into her head; a prince who doesn’t want political power but poetry; a group of people, alien and jealous and angry with each other, brought together by those very things. The stuff of dreams? Not in San Jose during this premiere week of Deutscher’s four-act “Cinderella.” It reminds, remands, renews joy in the theater, in music, in creativity, which we take out the door of the California Theater into the street, into the cars and buses, into our homes… . It makes for more than just a lively and audience-friendly experience: we are actually transported, from the conventional tale into a milieu in which we do care how things work out… The music itself lifts us from the start, the expressive and winding strings, the haunting clarinet capturing the darkness and isolation of the young “beggar girl” in its melancholy, the resonance of the brass and basses when they support it…   – music to fill heart and soul… (Opera Wire, 25.12.2017)

Review of Alma’s piano concerto in Vienna, April 2018

…The world turns in a circle, but always sprouts new, beautiful flowers, if one only lets them sprout. The enthusiasm and creativity of a young lady in her early teens is ignited by sound ideas which move in romantic regions between Mendelssohnian stylistic and Griegian emotions – this is not only natural but also absolutely legitimate. And just in case a natural skepticism creeps in about whether there is anything amiss – Alma Deutscher’s music, which she presents on the piano with full commitment and with palpable pleasure, is full of extraordinarily original ideas and genuine surprises, so that any suspicion that a good arranger could have helped out is immediately extinguished. Skillful contemporaries, who make a living by writing in this idiom, usually lack such imagination, an imagination that is wedded to a manifestly secure sense of harmonic and formal balance. Even just the transition from the cadenza to the coda of the first movement reveals the composer’s originality. And how, just before the final chord [of the first movement], she charmingly dissolves the harmonic knot which had been tied with a harmonic Coup in the first bars of the concerto – that mesmerizes. What dear god may still be planning with this girl? (Die Presse, Dr. Wilhelm Sinkovicz, 24.4.2018. German original here)

Reviews of Alma’s debut in Lucerne Festival, August 2018

“… that the strait-laced among the audience might find her classic-romantic style far too ‘retro’, doesn’t bother her in the least. She just composes what she likes: beautiful melodies, in stylistically confident harmonisations… She doesn’t want to write dissonances, just because it might be considered chic. And when one experiences her in Lucerne, one has to say that she is right. Why should she not use the talent that she has?” (Susanne Kübler, Tages Anzeiger, 31.8.2018)

“She improvises masterfully on four notes that members the public have drawn for her, and the public marvels.” (Gerda Neunhoeffer, Luzerner Zeitung, 30.8.2018)

Review of Alma’s recital in Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival, April 2018

“She made her appearance, and the fourth wall shattered. At 13, Alma Deutscher is a stick of dynamite”. (Le Figaro, Thierry Hillériteau, 3.4.2018).

Reviews of Alma’s violin concerto in Linz, February 2018

The force of nature that is the child star of music. The admiration for the multi-talent with an already considerable list of works reaches from Austria to abroad. Vienna was astonished only last year about her opera, Villach about the violin and a piano concertos at the Carinthian Summer, and now it was Linz’s turn to be astonished at how Alma Deutscher mastered the entire art of counterpoint and laws of harmony. Here is the musical form perfectly maintained, there the melodies spring out one after the other, or a fugue is polished off effortlessly, and everything in the tone colours of a classical-romantic style, which let not only the composer’s ability shine, but also the instruments. (Volksblatt, Georgina Szeless, 19.2.2018)

Wunderkind carried us off into a Cinderella-dream world: The G minor Violin Concerto she composed when she was nine years old has two exceptionally tight movements in the style of Mendelssohn and bears witness to a great melodic talent, but even more to an expert approach to harmony. (Oberösterreich Nachrichten, Michael Wruss, 19.2.2018)

Reviews of Cinderella for children at the Vienna State Opera, Jan 2018

These 75 opera minutes sound really fantastic… In concentrated form, Deutscher hosts a firework of her catchiest ear-worms, and the twelve-year-old is a highly gifted melodist. Her cantilenas… convey bottomless grief or overflowing yearning as needed. Supported by accomplished orchestral writing, this Cinderella shines not least through an effective sequence of arias, duets, ensembles and speech scenes….To sum up, the State Opera has done well to secure this Cinderella, because it is not just an attraction for the Wunderkind-arena, but a good opera in itself. (Wiener Zeitung, Christoph Irrgeher)

What is fascinating about Alma Deutscher is that she really can do it all. Her composition is fully-fledged, but in a frame she has set herself: it has to be “beautiful”, and that means tonal. The German classics and romantics, spiced with a pinch of Italians – these are her role models. She creates arias that challenge the singers, and an instrumentation that makes you sit up and listen again and again. (Volksblatt, Renate Wagner)

Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella in the children’s version for the studio stage of the State Opera proves to be inventive and melodious. (Die Presse, Barbara Petsch)

The work of the twelve-year-old is entertaining and musically solid, with beautiful melodies strongly inspired by the Vienna classics. Actually a “Singspiel” in the best tradition. (Kleine Zeitung, Barbara Freitag)

 

Reviews of Alma’s piano and violin concertos, Carinthian Summer, July 2017

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 wins 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 always sounds familiar, but this is not meant in any way derogatorily, but rather it 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 and richly ornamented violin concerto no. 1 in G-minor, or the world-premiere of her striking and nuance-rich piano concerto in E-flat major: these are supple, powerful, sumptuous 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 blindly drawn notes. Kronen Zeitung, 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 in Vienna, Dec 2016

(see here for reviews in German)

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.

More reviews of Cinderella in: Daily TelegraphDie Zeit OnlineBBC


Conductor Zubin Mehta on Alma Deutscher

“One of the greatest musical talents today.” (Nov. 2016)

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle

“Alma really is a force of nature. I don’t know that I’ve come across anyone of that age with quite such an astonishing range of gifts. It’s natural for her, it’s play, and I think it was play for certain brilliant young composers, like Mozart, like Korngold. These are very unusual people who have this. There is a sense of phrasing which many people two or three or four times her age would be lucky to have. There is a sense of what the harmony does that seems to be completely inborn to her. This is not something you can teach. And I haven’t really seen anything like it.” (Aug. 2017, on the BBC Documentary Imagine… Alma Deutscher: Finding Cinderella)

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. 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 no: it turns out that Deutscher, in a wondrous display of stylistic understanding and taste, composed the trio herself. (Noam Ben-Zeev, Haaretz, 31.7.2013)