2019 Johannes Brahms
The second edition of the Februari Festival presented the music of the German composer Johannes Brahms, best known for his grand work Ein Deutsches Requiem. In addition to Brahms’s music, the festival also featured works by his contemporaries and stylistic peers Dvorák, J.S. Bach, Röntgen, Amy Beach and Johann Strauss Jr. With lectures, public masterclasses and a preview concert at the residence of the Austrian ambassador, this festival was a true experience.
Artist in residence
The ensemble in residence for this second edition of the festival was the Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, consisting of the famous Hugo Wolf Quartet, flautist Silvia Careddu (Wiener Philharmoniker) and clarinettist Alexander Neubauer (Wiener Symphoniker). Rooted in the Viennese musical tradition that fits Brahms and his contemporaries so well, these performers offered a preview of the festival at the Austrian ambassador’s residence.
One of the Februari Festival’s objectives is to bring together young, talented musicians. Pianists Nikola Meeuwsen and Thomas Beijer performed a selection of Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances for four-handed piano. The festival also saw Meeuwsen, who recently received the Concertgebouw Young Talent Award 2019, perform with violinist Hawijch Elders for the first time. Elders won second prize at the Netherlands Violin Competition 2018 in the Oskar Back category, along with the Audience Award, which she won overwhelmingly.
For violinist Simone Lamsma, it was a dream come true to perform Brahms’s Horn Trio in E flat major with her Dutch peers Thomas Beijer on piano and Rob van der Laar on horn. The chemistry between the three musicians was immediately evident during the very first rehearsal, and the festival guests were treated to a spellbinding performance of this challenging piece.
Unique festival ingredients
The programme featured two particularly accomplished works by the American composer Amy Beach (1867-1944), a contemporary and great admirer of Brahms. For many in the audience, this was their first encounter with Beach’s oeuvre. Also performed were adaptations by Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern of various waltzes by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss Jr, whom Brahms greatly admired. Due to their unique instrumentation, these pieces are rarely performed on stage.
Overview of musicians & ensembles
Alban Berg Ensemble Wien | Florian Berner | Sebastian Gürtler | Régis Bringolf | Subin Lee | Silvia Careddu | Deirdre Angenent | Animato Kwartet | Pieter de Koe | Tim Brackman | Elisa Karen Tavenier | Nikola Meeuwsen | Huib Ramaer | Barbara Kozelj | Hannah Strijbos | Thomas Beijer | Ishay Shaer | Quatuor Van Kuijk | Emmanuel François | Nicolas van Kuijk | Sylvain Favre-Bulle | François Robin | Peter Nilsson | Dirk Luijmes | Simone Lamsma | Robert Kulek | Rob van de Laar | Hawijch Elders | Nikki Treurniet | Renate Arends | Hans Pieter Herman | Jeroen de Vaal | Maja Bogdanović