|Chamber Music Festivals: Kammermusicwoche Schloss Elmau|
Leaving Garmisch Partenkirchen , a short train journey through the Wettersteiner Mountains brings you to Klais, Bavaria's highest station. From here it is a five minute taxi ride to Schloss Elmau. I made the excursion from my base at Garmisch last week to hear an extraordinary artist. Here is my festival report of an evening at Kammermusikwoche.61
Schloss Elmau is an Alpine resort hidden away in rural Bavaria, 60 miles south of Munich. In the uber-swish hotel, that will host the next G7 summit, the lighting is subdued, the lounge room musak is of a superior laconic quality and the book shop is full of weighty tomes on science and politics. You wouldn't be surprised to see Frau Merkel in the corner de-stressing after a week of keeping the show on the road at the Reichstag.
Live music is a major feature and during a week in January, the hotel assembles an A list roster of star classical performers for a week of concerts to please and soothe the pains of guests after a heavy day on the slopes or at the eye watering spas. This year, Dutch violinist Janine Jansen appeared here before her sold out recital at London’s Wigmore Hall. I made an excursion to hear the celebrated counter-tenor Andreas Scholl perform not the German Baroque repertoire for which he is best known but a programme of English songs.
|Scholl Halperin at Schloss Elmau|
The lachrymose programme opened and closed in the Renaissance. The pathos of a pair of tear stained lute songs by John Dowland mingled with mirth of a Jacobean ditty by Thomas Campion. After the cleansing sorbet of a Bach Prelude sensitively played by pianist Tamar Halperin, came the serenity of Purcell’s, Music for a While and Evening Hymn. Benjamin Britten’s arrangements of familiar folksongs included WB Yeats’ The Salley Gardens. The gentle songs were wrapped around poignant sentiments of regret and despair in settings by Haydn of poems by Anne Hunter from his London sojourn. Scholl throughout had a genial stage manner speaking to the audience in German. For an encore he gave us another bite of Britten in the simple ‘I Will Give My Love an Apple’ . A photograph in the hall reminded us that Benjamin Britten and counter tenor Peter Pears performed here in 1959.
The countertenor voice is a musical high wire act, an enthralling blend of strength and fragility. The impossibly beautiful tones of Herr Scholl, seemed to drop effortlessly down from another world entirely to a rapt audience in the Konzertsaal at Schloss Elmau and music did indeed ‘for a while, all our cares beguile’. Wunderbar!
(Most of the programme can be heard on the Grammy nominated Purcell album ‘O Solitude’ 2010 and English Folk Songs and Lute Songs (1996)
No Irish dates listed but several London dates in 2015).
Scholl wasn't the only class act at the schloss that evening. In the Al Camino lounge jazz pianist, Tim Allhoff was quietly impressive as he worked through a set of complex improvisations on standards (including a version of the Danny Boy) accompanied by an occasional cocktail shaker for percussion.
Set List Scholl
Dowland Flow My Tears
I Saw My Lady Weep
Campion I Care not for these ladies
Bach Prelude in C
Purcell Music for a while
Britten Folksong arr. The Ash Grove
Haydn Despair/ Recollection/ The Wanderer
Haydn Piano Solo Minuet and Finale Piano Sonata in A
Britten Salley Gardens/ Greensleeves
Robert Johnson Have you seen the bright lilies grow
Encore I will give my love an apple