A festival that brings Schubert back to life

A festival that brings Schubert back to life

For five full days, the spirit of Franz Schubert could be felt throughout The Hague. The Viennese composer’s chamber music was the common thread running through the Classical Now Festival. Among the festival’s highlights was the reconstruction of a musical soiree organised by Schubert in late March 1828 in memory of Beethoven. It proved to be a long, beautiful evening in the Nieuwe Kerk.

 

The French Quatuor Van Kuijk fulfilled its promise as a rising star with a passionate and theatrical performance. Almost taking on the role of a story-teller, baritone Tobias Berndt mesmerised the audience; every word clearly enunciated and charged with emotion. The same could be said for the Netherlands Chamber Choir, whose programme presented in the hours approaching midnight evoked the subdued atmosphere of nocturnal song.

However, the most impressive performance was that of the Second Piano Trio, in which Schubert allows the deceased genius of Beethoven to quietly blaze like the setting sun. Young Israeli pianist Ishay Shaer, violinist Liza Ferschtman and cellist Quirine Viersen held the audience spellbound in an almost hypnotic trance. The listeners were so enthralled that they even forgot to cough! Could they have been witness to the birth of a new piano trio?

Schubert’s instrumental music often conveys the impression of being based on a text - words that he may have erased at a later point in time. This notion holds true here, as well. The piano, violin and cello held passionate conversations, enjoying each other’s phrases and playing with the silence in between the notes. In the blink of an eye, Schubert was transformed into a magician, one about whom Grillparzer once wrote that he could transform poetry into sound and allow music to speak.

Review NRC - Joost Galema, concert 18 February at Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague
(Photo Joris-Jan Bos) 

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