A Musical Treasure Hunt

Jagdschloss Bickenbach
Sunday 20 November 2011
Raffi Geliboluoglu, Lynn Steiner, Susanne Schaeffer
A Musical Treasure Hunt – Romantic Rarities in Chamber Music

On a beautiful wintry Sunday afternoon my family went to a very intimate concert in Bickenbach at the Jagdschloss. We were to hear romantic pieces for cello and piano that were not played very often – indeed, when I looked into the  programme, none of the composers were familiar to me, but then I’m still at the beginning and have only been studying music for a little more than a year.


(c) Stella Lorenz

The Armenian cellist Raffi Geliboluoglu, who had to give up his career as a professional musician in his twenties due to a nerve inflammation in his left arm, is now occasionally giving concerts (either private or, like here, for a charity event) – and it’s a shame that such a gifted man had to give up playing for almost 30 years. On this evening, he was also suffering from a tendinitis but played beautifully and gracefully until the end.
Lynn Steiner, born in London, has studied at the Royal Academy of Music and is a highly talented pianist and teacher.
Susanne Schaffer, who works as a radio producer and editor, led through the evening with informative facts about the pieces and the composers.


Now to the actual pieces: The Trois Nocturnes from Frédéric Burgmüller, which he composed in 1840, were a real treat for the ears. This creative and original music with the typical bittersweet romantic character had actually been written for cello and guitar (a very unusual combination), but was arranged for the evening for cello and piano by the two artists.
Friedrich Kiel, another great but apparently quite solitary composer who loved hiking, composed his Reisebilder op.11 in 1858. Being an admirer of Joseph von Eichendorff, he also set his poem ‘Dämm’rung will die Flügel spreiten’ to music. Very accurately and picturesque we could hear hunting scenes, deer taking flight from the hunters, pub visits and gypsies playing their tunes.
The Three Pieces (1891) of Alexander Zemlinsky, Arnold Schönberg’s son-in-law, can definitely be counted as romantic works, but there’s also a hint of atonality – no wonder with this famous relative. His quite lively oeuvre has only been rediscovered a few years ago.
Another quite unknown composer was Robert Fuchs – teacher of geniuses such as Sibelius or Stolz. His Phantasiestücke op. 78 4-7 (1887) are practically oozing with schmaltzy but delicate romantic feelings, also including quite melancholic parts, which required a great dexterity from both the cellist and the pianist.
The final piece was Friedrich Dotzauer’s Introduction and Variation about a Theme from Vincenzo Bellini’s Opera ‘Norma’ which contained highly virtuous parts for piano. There also was a slight hint of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.14 op.27 No.2.

All in all the evening was literally a treasure hunt. I was really glad to have been there and have got to know so many great ‘new’ old composers and melodies. Also I was really impressed by Geliboluoglu’s and Steiner’s play, especially when keeping in mind that the cellist was practically in pain all the time.

The donations from the audience will be given to educational and humanitarian projects in Haiti, realised by the German-Haitian Association.


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