Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival 2022



My musical box of chocolates

And again it’s festival summer. Every year, months in advance, my anticipation rises for the release of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival programme. Every year I try to put together a concert mix of the familiar and the new. In 2022, more than 200 concerts with around 3,000 participating musicians will be offered.

The concert season between the seas reminds me of the famous movie quote from “Forrest Gump.” Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. At SHMF, you very often get exactly the chocolate you love and everything is perfect. Sometimes your favorite concerts are already sold out and you decide to go to a concert that could still fit quite well. Like the chocolate that isn’t your first choice in your box, but then surprisingly tastes fantastic. And sure: there’s also the kind you don’t actually like that you end up putting in your mouth and you’re not surprised it doesn’t blow your mind.

Starry Night  – Percussion heaven on the culture property Hasselburg

Indeed, a chocolate from my box that lured me because of the daring mix of the announced pieces: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and the “Lullaby” by Brahms. How – for heaven’s sake – could that ever fit together? Gut Hasselburg offered itself on this 2nd of July in the summer sunshine exactly as the festival guest loves it. In rich green and brick red, stately yet casual. People with picnic baskets everywhere on the green spaces between the cavalier houses.

Hasselburg Buehne

In the barn, Alexei Gerassimez and the SIGNUM saxophone quartet demonstrated musical versatility and a love of experimentation. They led the audience through the “Starry Night” and strange galaxies. However, the project definitely demanded patience and a portion of curiosity from the audience. During the first piece “Rebirth” I thought the musicians were still tuning their instruments. Later I read the subheadline, which reads “Exploring Chaos” and many things became clear to me.

The next piece, “Connectom,” dealt with the question of what might happen once human consciousness is uploaded to a cloud. The piece, consisting of three movements, reminded me at times of Arnold Schoenberg’s atonal phase. But uploading a consciousness will certainly not work without occasional crashes, which is why this psychedelic composition by New Zealander John Psathas was quite thought-provoking. The following “Lullaby” by Johannes Brahms, to whom this year’s composer retrospective is dedicated, and John Williams’ “Cantina Band” from “Star Wars ” delighted the auditorium, as did Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” “Thunderstruck,” by the way, fit perfectly into the program. Fascinating how the AC/DC piece does completely without Angus Young’s famous guitar riffs. Percussion at its best!

Festival atmosphere with Baltic Sea view

I certainly did not want to miss the prelude to the eleven concerts in the Lübeck Music Festival series. The listed Art Nouveau building of the Atlantic Grand Hotel and especially the ballroom provided the stylish setting that made it easy for me to mentally travel to the Vienna of Johannes Brahms’ time. The stucco on the ceilings, the magnificent chandeliers and the unique view of the Baltic Sea created in my mind’s eye elegantly robed ladies and gentlemen swaying in a waltz.

Waltzes were not offered, Brahms was the focus of the concert evening with the String Quintet in G major op 111 and the Piano Quintet in F minor op 34. Masterfully performed by Daniel Hope and his friends, including the world-famous violinist Pinchas Zukerman, already mentioned in the same breath as the greatest violinists of the 20th century during his lifetime, and whom Daniel Hope has admired since childhood: “The music seduced my ears, my heart and my soul,” Hope said. I was enthralled by the Piano Quintet, which had an almost symphonic feel, was full of energy, and resulted in a passionate dialogue between piano and string instruments. Grandiose!

Atlantic Ensemble

For free, there was simply everything that makes a great concert evening for me: the shiny patent leather shoes of Daniel Hope and the silver stilettos (of course they caught my eye) of the Canadian cellist Amanda Forsyth, who played on a cello made by the Italian Carlo Giuseppe Testore in 1699. The music turner who assisted Shai Wosner on the piano. The soft coughing in the pauses between sentences from the auditorium. The nodding of heads with which the musicians coordinated among themselves almost unnoticed. At the end there was a standing ovation from the guests in the sold-out hall. This evening was like a noble truffle with a fine chili note.

Early and late at the Carlebach Synagogue in Lübeck

This Sunday afternoon was again dedicated to Johannes Brahms. I know…. His Cello Sonata op. 99 and the Piano Trio in B major were heard. The piano trio is my marzipan praline: not too sweet, with a proven blend of light and dark fine cocoa chocolate. The trio is a true classic from the first creative years, which Brahms completely revised at the end of his life.

Synagoge Trio

The choice of the Carlebach Synagogue as the venue underlines the fact that “thinking outside the box” remains one of the festival’s leitmotifs to this day. The Lübeck synagogue was built between 1878 and 1880 on the model of the Berlin New Synagogue in Oranienburger Straße. During the Reichspogromnacht in 1938 it was devastated inside, but the building itself was spared. The richly decorated façade in Moorish style, including the magnificent dome, was torn down by the Nazis. What remained was a plain brick building. After the end of the war, the synagogue resumed its function. I just find it tragic that the Lübeck synagogue needs round-the-clock police protection and that there are only very rare opportunities to visit it. What a joy, therefore, to be able to enjoy the Sunday concert in the prayer hall with a view of the Torah shrine.

But now I really need a contrast programme. My choice fell on the concert of Danger Dan on August 9 at the Werftquartier, who is considered a reflective rebel and self-critical rapper. I hope that you have become curious and are now eagerly delving into this year’s program. There are definitely still tickets available!

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written by:

Barbara Schwartz