Monday, 20 May 2013

Great Festival in Salzburg

Well today was Pentecost Monday and it is the last day of the Pfingstfestspiele in Salzburg under the direction of Cecilia Bartolia. A brilliant success, we saw some wonderful performances by great artists, orchestras and great conductors.

Today was started the day at 11am with a concert with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre orchestra, violinist Vadim Repin in a piece by Sofia Gubaidulina composed in 1981 Offertorium, we listened to her revised version of 1986. Program Notes were prepared by our friend David Nice a broadcaster and lectured on BBC Music Magazine and on the Arts Desk. Thank you David for those helpful and interesting notes on this work.

Vadim Repin violinist and Maestro Valery Gergiev

The second piece played at the Felsenreitschule was Dimitri Shostakovitch Symphonie no.13 Babi Yar with bass Mikhail Petrenko and the chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre. A powerful piece heavy in criticism of the USSR based on poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. It was wonderful a stunning piece, very moving. Sung in Russian by Petrenko, such a voice.

Mikhail Petrenko, basso

I will pass on the afternoon offering with the Hagen Quartet and Alfred Brendel, boring is all I can say of this piece The Seven Last Words by Haydn. Very poor indeed.

This evening we went to the Grosses Festspielhaus to listen to the Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms with the chorus Wiener Singverein and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a creation of Maestro Daniel Barenboim. Soloist Cecilia Bartoli and René Pape.  A beautiful work, very well done.
The funny moment in this rather serious work was when it became quite apparent to us in the front rows that Maestro Barenboim was loosing his pants. He was trying to tug them up desperately at one point he said something to Cecilia Bartoli and she gave him a funny smile. Something had gone wrong with his suspenders. In the end all ended well and no ones dignity was damaged. The Wiener Singverein a choir of about 100 members first performed this work on its debut in 1869.

Cecilia Bartoli, René Pape and Maestro Daniel Barenboim in Salzburg.

A standing ovation was given for this great work and the artists involved.

We returned to the Bristol for dinner in the Sketch Bar.
Sketch Bar at Hotel Bristol Salzburg.

Czar fillet of Salmon with tomato emulsion, salted chocolate square and balsamic vinegar

Leek tart with bouquet of salad and garlic cream and chives.

Filet mignon with pan seared goose liver paté and black truffles in an emulsion of Balsamic vinegar and red onions sautéed in red wine.
Decaf espresso

We had an excellent Austrian Red Wine by Zull,  Cuvée Schrattenthal 9.

Tomorrow we take the train to Fussen in Germany, it appears that rain is in the forecast.



  1. Looks like you're having a great time! Bon appetit!

  2. These two concerts were unbelievably wonderful!

  3. Iremember seeing Mr. Barenboim when I lived in Chicago. He and the orchestra had terrific battles.
    As For Herr Pape? I want to bear all his children.

  4. What did you make of the Gubaidulina? I imagine it is spellbinding in concert (I've only heard the second violin concerto, In tempus praesens, in concert with Anne Sophie Mutter). I can't imagine Bartoli singing the soprano solo in the Brahms, though. But all in all, a great treat, it sounds. And the food is not incidental. Did you have the Salzburger Knockerl?

    1. David, I would not have appreciated as much the music of composer Sofia Gubaidulina and her violin concerto played by Vadim Repin had it not been for your program notes. It is not an easy piece and requires a virtuoso violinist to be able to play the different tones, colours and moods of it. I have to say that I did not know of the composer prior to seeing the program. It is also a piece that speaks in a difficult language of historical events close to us but at the same time far away. I think that given the difficulty of the piece I would have to hear it again to gain a better appreciation of it. I was not indifferent to it but simply found it difficult to absorb, I was trying to understand the emotions expressed, maybe I need coaching, being no expert on music.

      I am somewhat slow at understanding a piece of music being unusual or new to me and need time to reflect upon it. I think that this piece will require that I look it up again and sort it out in my mind.

      On the other hand Symphony no. 13, I simply loved and was taken away by the strenght of the text and the music. Ir certainly went very well with the Shostakovich complimenting each other. Shostakovich is one composer I discovered some 25 years ago by reading his biography and then became fascinated with his time and work and how someone like him survived the harsh regime under Stalin. I probably would have to read her biography to gain a better undestanding of her music. I remain always open to learning new things.

      As for Cecilia Bartoli singing in the Deutsches Requiem, Will was not sure that her voice carried all the way to the back of the hall. René Pape has a great booming voice and she had a little voice, though the part is very small. In Norma she was perfect for the role and I will remember that performance for years to come. I enjoyed hearing her in D.R. and she certainly got a big ovation. The fact also that Barenboim was loosing his pants was the source of distraction and hilarity. What can a maestro do, he could not just walk off stage in the middle of the piece. Ah la vie d'artistes!