Amberger Zeitung


A Musical Highlight in the Amberg Theatre

The " Berlin Philharmonic Violinists" earn storms of applause with their unusual programme.
For decades past the Berlin Philharmonic  has been amongst the finest orchestras in the world. Those allowed to play in this Ensemble must be exceptional musicians and have total mastery of their instruments. If ten violinists from such an outstanding orchestra come together in order to play out-of-the-way music then we are bound to expect excellence and outstanding interpretations.
Predictably there was hardly a free seat in the Amberg Theatre for the guest-appearance of the "Berlin Philharmonic Violins". Expectations were understandably extremely high.The Ensemble treated us to a programme of musical specialities and were rewarded with a standing ovation and enthusiastic storms of applause.
Even the programme planning was unusual, beginning with Pachelbel`s famous Canon, continuing with J.S.Bach´s "Double" Concerto for two violins and Basso Continuo and also containing the well-known "Hungarian Dances" by Brahms, as well as two modern pieces which have been specially composed for this Ensemble. The contrast between these works  and Prokofief`s "Romeo and Julia" Suite and Enescu`s "Rumanian Rhapsody" was particularly effective.
Warm Sonority
Apart from the Pachelbel and the two specially commissioned works the programme consisted entirely of arrangements in which the striking qualities of the Ensemble could be shown to their full advantage. A warm and  noble sonority, complete homogeneity where required and great sensitivity in their interreaction with one another was combined with a technique of apparently limitless virtuosity. It was quite simply a fantastic experience to be able to listen to these musicians.
On top of all this they had a pianist  whose exceptional adaptability often provided the sonorous foundation for their music-making, and whose  brilliance was equal to that of the violinsts.
The Pachelbel  was quite wonderful  with its transparency and ever-increasing intensity.  The Bach "Double" Concerto was  brilliant in its musical layout, a paragon of classical balance, highlighting the themes, exhibiting dynamic virtuosity, brilliant musicianship and a particularly rich sound. Then came the first specially commissioned work, the " Transformation of a Baroque Theme " in the presence of the composer Herbert Baumann (born in 1925) . This moderately modern music is  elegant but spirited, with appealing sonorities and compelling rhythms ,  the  variations  unexpected and spellbinding but whose creativity and originality waned towards the end. The "Berliners" however, played it in such a thrilling way that the audience was captivated and roused to ovations for performers and composer alike.
Never-ending Suspense
The Brahms "Hungarian Dances" were to be heard in the rich romantic, velvety sound which has long been associated with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Prokofief`s "Romeo and Julia" Suite was a particular pleasure. The musical portrayal of the characters in this intense, fascinating" programme music" built up a mood of never-ending suspense and was brought over by the musicians with stupendous force and life.
The second commissioned work was the "Suite for Ten Violins and Piano" by Klaus Sonnenburg. This abounded with sonorities reminiscent of Debussy and melodies which seemed to "swim". It did not aim to be spectacular but was nonetheless highly effective.
The "Rumanian Rhapsody" by George Enescu,  which  finished the programme, invited us to relax - a work full of violinistic and pianistic brilliance, happy in its dancing freshness, evoking the gypsy music of the Balkans, and altogether ideal for these breathtaking violin-acrobats. It was an "Hommage" to the audience and was followed, naturally, by a resounding, standing ovation and two encores. 
Helmut Fischer        Amberger Zeitung    March 2004                                                                                            (  Translation :  Jonathan Alder  )