Bach und die Romantik Ė Bach and the Age of Romanticism
14 - 23 May 2004

My day at Bachfest: 18 May 2004

This was the day of ĎEmergence of starsí, the highlight being the evening concert of Lara St John. In the morning, I attended Karen Lehmannís lecture at the Sommersall of the Bach-Archiv. There was a special lunch for the Press people, a rare opportunity to appreciate what kind of feast Bach had in 1716 in Halle.

No.25: Workshop at Bach-Archiv, Sommersaal, 11:00


ĄSein Spiel wird mehrmals undeutlich und entbehrt einer gewissen guten Sangweise.ď- Mendelssohns Wiedergabe der Chromatischen Fantasie

Vortrag von Dr. Karen Lehmann

In the morning, I attended Karen Lehmannís lecture on Mendelssohnís interpretation of Bachís Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, with the performance on both fortepiano and harpsichord. The seminar itself was well attended, and Lehmannís talk was very informative and illuminating. The performance demonstration was disappointing, however: the performer clearly was unfamiliar with the early instruments; there were simply too many slips in the performance.  
Dr Lehmann lecturing in the Sommersaal

No.26: Orchestra concert in Gewandhaus, Mendelssohn-Saal, 20:00


J.C. Bach: Symphony in G minor, op.6, no.6
Mendelssohn: Concert in D minor, WoO (2nd version)
J. S. Bach: Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
Mendelssohn: Symphony no.8 in D major, WoO (the version with brass)

Lara St. John (Violine), Gunnar Harms (Konzertmeister), Neues Mendelssohn Kammerorchester Leipzig
Leitung: Eckehard Stier

This was one of star events of this yearís Bachfest, featuring Lara St John, a dazzling violinist from Canada. When I arrived the Gewandhaus 30 minutes before the concert was to start, there was already a long queue outside the hall. This is perhaps enough to describe the huge expectation the audience had that night.

Photo (J.C. Bach) by Gert Mothes

  The opening piece, J.C. Bachís symphony, was a refreshing performance with very tight ensemble by the New Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, and it looked as if the conductor seemed redundant.

Photo (Mendelssohn) by Gert Mothes

And with the Mendelssohnís violin concerto appeared on to the stage the star of the night. Her dynamic playing was all clear to see and hear. Yet her tuning was not very stable and accurate tonight; her intonation good but not very consistent. The orchestraís highly disciplined accompaniment should be noted.

The main item of the day was Bachís A-minor violin concerto: St Johnís playing was now much better: she was sensitive, fully aware of harmonic shifts and turns, even though her intonation problems were still noticeable. Her communication with her own ensemble (as it was without conductor) was very effective and assuring. As for the orchestra, the reliability of the continuo section was particularly worth noting (with the exception of harpsichord). It would have been better if they treated syncopations with imagination and freedom.

The last piece of the night was Mendelssohnís symphony. It was a tightly shaped performance with good solos from flautists: ff was a little rough, but the repeated passagework was handled brilliantly. Overall, I was very impressed by the responsiveness of this young ensemble group.  
Photo by Gert Mothes

Yo Tomita

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