Diary from Landsberg am Lech – the 19th Landsberger Summer Music Festival,
3 July – 8 July. 2017
Apprentices: Joachim Rødbergshagen, violin, Edvard Erdal, violin, Ragnhild Kyvik Bauge, violin, Mikael Grolid, viola, Mirjam Kammler, cello
Mentors: Christoph Hartmann, oboe, Luiz Coelho, violin, Walter Küssner, viola, Øyvind Gimse, cello
Monday, 3 July, all apprentices, along with Kari, Bjørn and Erling were gathered in Landsberg. The boys were lodged with the parents of Christoph Hartmann (Elke and Gerhard). Elke is the General Manager of the Festival – assisted by her husband and the rest of the family (daughter Carmen and her husband Arne) and other close friends. The ladies stayed at the cloister, where most of the other musicians were housed, together with the 7 or 8 nuns who still run the cloister. The Abbess, Antonie, was there for all of the events that took place in the cloister, from cooking, setting the table, washing up and carrying beer. Kari, Bjørn, Randi and Erling were given their own holiday flats (at our expense).
Monday night, everyone arrived together to a simple supper in the cloister, and the ties between us began to be tied. In addition to our five apprentices, there were also four young musicians (two from Italy and two from Bayern) who played the oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. The other musicians were professionals from Iceland (horn), Norway (cello and violin), Austria (violin), Hungary (flute), Italy (C bass clarinet) and several others from Germany.
Tuesday, 4 July, rehearsals started in earnest. The apprentices were spread throughout the diverse programme – a programme that presented a variety of works that are not usually played. It was a good, real-life test –to practice and present in concert with only one or two rehearsals. The conclusion is clear: Our apprentices passed the test with flying colours!
On Tuesday evening, we took a long hike in the beautiful countryside around Landsberg. We were going to a restaurant by the river, which had a lake nearby-and this restaurant was the only house for miles around. The place lay inside a gorge, which was called the Devil’s Kitchen, and hence the name “Teufelsküche”. The food we ate was also devilishly good. After a good and cheerful meal, we wandered home in the dark, but the way was lit by thousands of fireflies. We heard wild boar, luckily fenced in, but deer wandered and grazed in the forest clearings. A beautiful evening.
Wednesday, 5 July was spent on further rehearsal. In the evening, everyone met in the Cloister Garden (famous melody from the request concert. Music – A. Ketelby, 1875–1959. Often whistled). In the garden, friends of the Festival had arranged a large, evening barbecue, and an official photograph was taken of all the contestants in their smart, light-blue t-shirts. The food was professionally prepared. The drinks were unlimited, both with and without, and the Abbess made sure that there was enough for everyone.
Thursday, 6 July, those of us who were not playing took a trip to a small village south of Landsberg. There, they had restored a duplex from the 1600s. We had an interesting guided tour, and then we had a good, Bavarian lunch. It was especially fine being met with a glass of sparkling wine in honour of Erling’s 71st birthday.
The musicians put the finishing touches on the programme they were going to play the same evening. Then the sponsors, official guests and volunteers were invited to a “vorspiel” with catering. It was a great example of what the apprentices and the others had accomplished in three days. The programme was a concert. The next few days (the official concerts) had different programmes.
The concert started with lush Wiener music led by John Fleischmann (Wiener Phil). The Mayor and the County Governor mentioned the unique collaboration between the Berlin Philharmonic, Christoph Hartmann and the Vinterfest Festival in Røros. It was mentioned that Christoph is going to be the Artistic Director next year, and that many people from Landsberg were going to travel there. They also pointed out the unique collaboration that Winter Festival in Bergstaden (WiB) has got with the Berlin Philharmonic and the KonstKnekt project. Cheers from the audience! It was truly an achievement to play so well with the temperature outside over 30 degrees, and inside even higher.
Friday, 7 July was the run-up to the first public concert.
The opening included all strings and wind players – the Overture to Rossini’s opera “the Barber of Seville”. We realised immediately that we had some of the world’s best musicians. It continued with Rossini’s Bassoon Concerto, and Poulenc’s Sextet for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. After the break, we had a nonet with motives from Verdi’s “Sicilian Vespers” and Gounod’s “Little Symphony”. Yet another great success.
The dinner was served in the cloister’s banqueting hall, where we established a Norwegian table. Sue and Jan Fridtjof w/two friends, Kari, Bjørn, Randi and Erling + their friends (Sigrunn and Odd from Stavanger) made up the corner every evening. The excellence of the food that was served was on par with the excellence of the concert.
Now, a brief orientation about the organisation. The Festival is organised in its entirety by Christoph and his mother, Elke. They do this in such an outstanding way. Even though we (Bjørn, Kari and Erling) have been high and low, during rehearsals and concerts –these days have been very easy. The few questions that came up in connection with the apprentices were solved by Bjørn in his usual way, fast and effectively.
Bjørn and Erling had a good meeting with Christoph concerning 2018, and there has been fine progress. Also, we got together with Øyvind about the plan for 2017–18 for the apprentice group weeks and especially about who will be recruited. That was clarified, with inquiries to be made personally in August.
Saturday, 8 July, there were more rehearsals for the evening’s concert. For those of us who were just guests, the possibility to cool off at the Inzell Water Park in the city centre was very welcome. A great bathing and park facility in the middle of the city. The others had a final run-through of the evening’s programme.
It offered two premiere performances: a Clarinet Quintet by Christian Ludwig Mayer (1974–) and our own apprentice Mikael Grolid (1997–), as well as a brand new Duet for two violas (Mikael and Walter Küssner). Tremendous acclaim for both works. Otherwise, we got to hear a Quintet for Piano and Winds by Walter Gieseking. (Yes, he was a fantastic pianist, who played one of the finest interpretations of Grieg’s A minor at the end of the 1930s.) Otherwise, there was a performance of Per August Ölander’s String Sextet in A major. This work has been part of our repertoire for the apprentices. A fine work that is reminiscent of Mendelsohn and that Dvorak followed up in his chamber music. As a grand finish, we had a piece by a contemporary of Franz Schubert: Franz Krommer’s Octet, op. 71 in E-flat.
After the concert, there was again dinner in the cloister’s banqueting hall, and that evening, friends of Elke and Carmen prepared the food. Again, there was a great atmosphere around the “Norwegian table”, and our apprentices mixed with their colleagues around the tables, as effortlessly as when they played.
Sunday, 9 July was the final day, and a demanding programme was scheduled for the musicians.
The concert opened with the beautiful String Sextet “Capricio” from the Richard Strauss opera by the same name. Then Beethoven’s Octet for Winds in E-flat, Op 103. , A phenomenal performance. One evening, I (Erling) told Christoph that it was so nice to hear that an ensemble of wind players could play in tune together. He looked at me with his little mischievous smile and said, “Yes, that actually happens some times”.
Ralph Vaughn William’s Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass was also a great experience, especially thanks to the pianist Angelika Merkle. And then came the finale! Peter Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, op. 48 for String Orchestra. And what a string orchestra! Four first violins (including Ragnhild and Edvard), three second violins (including Joachim), two violas (including Mikael), three cellos (including Mirjam and Øyvind, who, incidentally, played the entire serenade by heart) and a bass player (who might come to Røros next year). That was an exceptional performance. At times, both musicians and the audience were moved to tears by the music’s immediate beauty and the intense and warm interplay. One could not find a better finish for that week’s musical experience.
Of course, the concert was followed by dinner and a party, and how long it lasted, only the individuals know. What we do know is that they left Landsberg for their next destination. For Bjørn, Kari and Erling, this was, of course, a week filled with great experiences. But it was also a week where we made connections with outstanding musicians – not only from the BerlPhil, but also from the Wiener Phil (John Fleischmann, an amazing violinist with a specialty in Wiener music), Albert Bocini (Italian C. bass clarinet virtuoso), Clemens Weigel (cellist from Munich, who has been in Røros. Gabriella Pivon (fantastic flautist, lives in Berlin) etc., etc.
It was a memorable and worthy finish to the first season of the KonstKnekt project.
We must again thank our owners, the Kavli Foundation, the Vinterfest Festival, as well as our collaborators Talent Norway and Dextra Musica for the generous contributions that have made this adventure possible.