The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester is back! For the first time after more than two months' break due to the Corona pandemic, the orchestra played a concert again in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall – albeit still without an audience, and with a safe distance between the musicians. Under the baton of Antonello Manacorda and together with world-famous violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, the programme featured works that can be successfully performed with a smaller-size ensemble.
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
Frank Peter Zimmermann violin
Stefan Wagner violin
conductor Antonello Manacorda
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Contrapunctus 1 / aus: Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080
Arvo Pärt (*1935)
Darf ich ...
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Violinkonzert G-Dur KV 216
Franz Schubert (1797–1828)
Sinfonie Nr. 5 B-Dur D 485
The rostrum was occupied for the evening by Italian conductor Antonello Manacorda, known as head of the Postdam Chamber Academy for his eye for detail and his stylistic flexibility.
Exceptional violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann was back at the Elbphilharmonie as soloist: a good friend of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Zimmermann made his last guest appearance here in late February. As it turned out, this was the last concert given by chief conductor Alan Gilbert and his orchestra before the Elbphilharmonie had to be closed because of Corona – but no-one could guess that at the time.
Sacrifices, uncertainty and hope are also the subjects of the music that was on the programme. A fugue for example, such as Johann Sebastian Bach composed archetypically in his collection »Die Kunst der Fuge« (The Art of the Fugue), proceeds along quite similar lines to life in the Corona era: everyone is completely independent and has to help himself. Everyone does the same thing, but with a time delay – under no circumstances must they come together. OK, except for the closing chord. The principle consists in avoiding each other in accordance with strict rules: the Latin word »fuga« means »escape«.
The uncertainty about what is allowed in everyday life and what isn't can largely be reduced to one question: »Am I allowed to?« Estonian composer Arvo Pärt gave this question musical form in his 1995 work »Darf ich?« for solo violin, strings and bell. Of course he was not referring to Corona back then – the question asked by the title is meant more generally, with regard to humanity and social interaction.
The musicians on the Elbphilharmonie stage answer this delicately phrased question, which Arvo Pärt clothes in cautious, tentative music, in the next piece with a clear »Yes!«. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his Violin Concerto for his own use at the tender age of 19, when he was employed as leader of the Salzburg court orchestra. The work met with a good reception at the time - »It went down like oil«, the composer wrote to his father – and is nowadays one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire.
Franz Schubert's Fifth Symphony, which brings the concerto to an end, can likewise be seen as a work of true relief. With lively and a harmonious sense of togetherness, it embodies everything that is missing from our lives in the Corona era, and which we hope to enjoy again soon.