Sunday Delight | Sonntagsvergnügen

Kölner Philharmonie
Sunday 12 January 2014 | Sonntag 12. Januar 2014
Gürzenich Orchestra, Eivind Aadland / Alban Gerhardt (cello)
Nordheim – Schumann – Prokofiev

(c) Sim Canetty-Clarke

Some of you may say that there are better ways to spend a Sunday morning than to get up at 6am and travel to Cologne to see a concert with a fairly normal programme. Under other circumstances I’d agree but there were three things that convinced me to sacrifice my lazy weekend brunch:

  1. I love Cologne and I’ve never been to the Philharmonie
  2. The last time I heard Alban Gerhardt play it was amazing – this guy is genius.
  3. It was so worth it.

Despite having Nordheim’s Nachruf for Strings in the programme, it all fit surprisingly well with a (made-up) theme I’d like to call “Dreams & Drama”. The Nachruf – an impressive, floating work from 1976 – was marvellously interpreted by the Gürzenich Orchester. What I loved most about the piece was the desperation which was in no way raging but rather silent – a haunting, eerie sound continuum of resgination and depression. Norwegian guest conductor Eivind Aadland did a great job leading the orchestra in an unagitated and precise way, making the whole programme sound sincere and honest (and never forced or artificial!)

When it came to Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto (1850) and the flawless encore of Bach’s Prelude to his Cello Suite No. 4, Alban Gerhardt proved once more that he is quite rightly one of the most famous cellists of today. Playing by heart as always he managed to give the admittedly uber-infatuated Schumann a sense of serious emotion and energetic emphasis. His Goffriller cello stood out and yet merged with the orchestra sound so well, the audience was completely taken by this outstanding, lively performance. I sometimes thought that Beethoven might have looked the same as Gerhardt when he played the piano, being all taken up in the music. Schumann would have loved this interpretation.

For the second half, Aadland had chosen some excerpts from the Romeo and Juliet Suites (1935) by Prokofiev. The ambitious performance demanded a lot of the musicians but they succeeded in every possible way – they were highly motivated, played to the point and earned themselves a huge applause. (I particularly loved the fact that Alban Gerhardt snuck in and played with the other cellos – honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another soloist do that – how cool is that?)

All in all – I’ve had one of the best Sunday mornings I had in months! If you want to witness this lovely experience, there will be two more performances tomorrow and on Tuesday. Klick here for more information.

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