Susan Salm Plays Brahms
Mutations and Other Fairytales
Im Augenspiegelblick
Beethoven Sonata Op. 102
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Susan Salm plays Brahms Susan Salm plays Brahms
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Mutations and other Fairytales Mutations and other Fairytales
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Special Report from the 2008 South Africa Tour  
  World Premiere of "Epigramme" for Cello Solo
by Rainer Bischof

Ten variations for Violoncello Solo composed for and dedicated to Susan Salm (2005)


Susan Salm | Recordings: Epigramme
Recorded live at the World Premiere at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York on March 30, 2006.

Performed by Susan Salm, cello

Manuscript by Rainer Bischof (> enlarge)
Epigramme - Gouache by Friedrich Danielis (> enlarge painting)
  To Perform a Work for the First Time
by Susan Salm

To perform a work for the first time—for the first time in its existence—is a great opportunity. Daunting as this may be for a performer, it is also the ultimate challenge, and satisfaction: to convince listeners that this very piece, never before heard, is valuable, special and—yes, beautiful. When the composer has managed to write something truly original, our task is far easier. To be able then to have chosen the composer, to have a piece written for one’s self and then to have time, to delve, to get close to those thoughts and concepts, to learn this new language—is a rare privilege.

It is this concept of a new language that concerns us with Rainer Bischof, a language we are not accustomed to hearing or understanding, and which yet holds tremendous emotional power. Bischof’s music is exceptionally difficult to execute; whoever has performed it is aware of that. And yet there is always a fascinating, magnetizing joy in practicing, learning, and conquering the problems one has to solve. As with any truly great work of art, it remains interesting at every level, all the time - - even becoming moreso as we spend more time with it. There is emotional intensity, honesty, delicacy, strength, extended lines that stretch over long phrases– and a love for the expressiveness that can be drawn from the instrument. Every emotion is touched, every possibility explored. New sounds are created and expand our awareness and abilities. Bischof presents challenges that seem insoluble, demands that require a new way of thinking and hearing and even of touching the cello.

Whenever I felt overwhelmed by the technical and interpretive problems – first in Mutations, an unaccompanied cello piece composed for me in 1995, he reassured me over and over: “I know for whom I wrote this. It’s not just for anyone, it’s for you.” His confidence in me as well as the technical challenges and the music itself gave me tremendous strength. This was also the case with the Epigramme. Once again I heard Bischof saying to me “I know for whom I wrote this…” And now I feel so close to these solo pieces that I take pride in knowing they were indeed meant to be “mine”.