United in Music
Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony, op. 4
Dmitri Shostakovich : Cello Concerto No. 1, op. 107
Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 2, op. 22: “Romanza”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in g minor, KV 550
Misha Quint (cello)
Orchestra of the Interharmony Festival Academy, Andrzej Grabiec (violin and conductor)
Summer is my favorite time of the year. Not only because the sun shines and the weather is warm, but mainly because it is festival time with lots of unusual venues or programs to discover. There are the big, well-known music festivals like Salzburg, or Bayreuth or Luzern to name a few. But then there are the countless small festivals, each one offering a specific angle on music, which you might not get from a big, well established festival.
The Interharmony International Music Festival in Sulzbach-Rosenberg in Bavaria, is one of those hidden gems. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the festival, initiated and organized by Russian born, New York based cellist Misha Quint. For two weeks an impressive roster of artist teachers worked with students from all over the world. Almost every night there was a concert either by the faculty or by the students. This year’s highlight was certainly a lecture by the incomparable Alfred Brendel on Schubert’s piano sonatas. The festival culminated in the final concert of the Festival Academy.
Andrzej Grabiec and the festival orchestra, comprised of music students from literally all over the world, opened the evening with Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony. It was immediately apparent that Grabiec, besides being an excellent conductor, is an experienced educator who knows how to get the best out of the young musicians of the festival academy. The sound was lush, the pizzicato of the second movement precise despite the difficult acoustics in the church, and the finale definitely was frolicsome.
Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto stood in sharp contrast to the lighthearted Britten piece. Misha Quint set the mood with the first notes of the recurring DSCH motif: deep, dark and powerful. Quint played the outer movements with breathtaking bravura, offering a deeply introspective and personal interpretation in the second movement leading into the expressive cadenza. Quint, like Shostakovich a native of St. Petersburg, offered an intense and touching interpretation of this devilish difficult piece.
Conductor Andzej Grabiec took up the violin for the Romanza from Wieniawski’s Second Violin Concerto in d-minor. His warm violin tone reflected the equally warm personality with which he guided the young musicians throughout the concert.
The concert, that brought together aspiring musicians from all over the globe, closed with Mozart’s eternally beautiful Symphony No. 40 in g-minor. These 50 highly motivated young men and women who might not even speak the same language were united by the universal language of music.
The orchestra responded to the enthusiastic applause with Rossini’s abundantly joyful overture to Il signor Bruschino.
The festival’s website
Misha Quint’s website