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Visitin Japan with Bach

After the highly acclaimed concert tour in 2014, where Hansjörg Albrecht and the Munich Bach Orchestra performed the “Six Brandenburg Concertos” by Johann Sebastian Bach in ten concerts in front of over 15,000 listeners, fall of 2017 marks the reinvitation to the ‘land of the rising sun‘. With a suitcase filled with two virtuosic and versatile Bach programs, this year’s tour will lead to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagano, Kobe, and other places in Japan. In sixteen concerts, the musicians will perform in architecturally and acoustically breathtaking concert halls that Japan is known for.


Don Giovanni in Dubai

As part of an exclusive program showing the three Da Ponte Operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the new Opera in Dubai, Hansjörg Albrecht conducts “Don Giovanni”. With an international and young singer ensemble that was cast specifically for this project, along with the choir and the orchestra of the Teatro di San Carlo Napoli, an opulent, Neapolitan Opera extravaganza has been created, inspired by Commedia dell’arte and directed by Mariano Bauduin.
The ultra-modern Opera building that is shaped like a traditional Arabic boat was inaugurated in 2016 and constitutes the cultural center of the Dubai Opera District, nearby the world-famous Burj Khalifa, the highest building on earth.


The Unbroken Fascination of Concert Hall Organs

The world of concert hall organs, often presented in magical illumination, continues to draw people in time and time again. This fascination is not only caused by the perceptible closeness in sound to the orchestra, but also by the acoustic transparency and brilliancy that concert halls provide as they allow the listener to experience virtuosic organ music quite differently than in churches.
In addition to elect instruments in the cathedrals of Rotterdam, Munich, Zurich, and Moscow, Hansjörg Albrecht also gives concert in 2017 where he plays the organs in distinguished concert halls as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Budapest Palace of Arts, the Hamburg Laiesz Hall, as well as the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, the Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall, the Kyoto Concert Hall, and the Osaka Izumi Hall.


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That Hansjörg Albrecht is becoming increasingly involved with conducting, ever since his highly successful Braunfels orchestral songs, is no longer a secret. In the following recording, which was produced live in Weimar, he has turned to Richard Wagner’s Ring.
He has once again selected the Staatskapelle Weimar (Weimar State Orchestra) for this task, an ensemble whose history extends all the way back to the year 1491. Thus this orchestra has one of the richest traditions of any ensemble in the world, and is more than familiar with the works of Richard Wagner.


War Requiem

In the course of a large-scale project with 300 contributors, Hansjörg Albrecht is developing Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem“ at the “Musikhochschule Rostock“ in January 2017. The completion of the project will be formed by two concerts in the Hamburg “Hauptkirche St. Michaelis“ and the Rostock “Konzertkirche St. Nikolai” on the 28th and 29th of January on the occasion of Auschwitz Memorial Day.
Inspired by the tonal range of the new Cathedral Coventry and in honour of the dedication ceremony of that very cathedral for which the piece was created, Britten developed his thought-provoking Requiem for three groups, spatially and instrumentally separated. Furthermore, he put the medieval, Latin text of the requiem in contrast to modern, English poetry by Wilfred Owen, who was killed shortly before the end of World War I while fighting in the frontline and who portrayed war without any feeling of justice and glory in his poetry. This composition continues to be a timeless expression of human protest against the slaughter committed in war.


Mozart, Favorite of the Gods

2017 is going to be a “Mozart Year” for Hansjörg Albrecht. The year starts in Italy, where Hansjörg opens the concert season at the Teatro Lirico Cagliari with the Requiem. In spring and summer, the Jupiter Symphony can be heard as a transliteration in different organ recitals, whereas the fall season is mainly dominated by two opera debuts. As part of the Opera Festival at the new opera in Dubai, Hansjörg Albrecht conducts “Don Giovanni“ with the ensemble of the Teatro di San Carlo Naples before directing “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (The Abduction from the Seraglio) at that very same time-honored Italian opera house. Among other places, Hansjörg will conduct Symphonies and the Requiem as part of different concerts in the concert halls of Hamburg, Munich, and for the first time also in the Great Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic.


Live Broadcast from the “Weimarhalle“ Concert Hall

On the 9th of October, 2016, the State Orchestra “Staatskapelle Weimar“, directed by Hansjörg Albrecht, presents Richard Wagner’s ”Ring” (nonverbal), edited by Lorin Maazel. Prior to that, baritone Stephan Genz is going to sing three orchestral songs composed by Walter Braunfels using texts by Hölderlin and Hesse. Deutschlandradio Kultur will broadcast the concert live, starting at 8 pm.
Wagner and Braunfels – neither one of them could defend himself – not Richard Wagner as his work was being abused by the National Socialists, nor Braunfels as he was barred by the Music Chamber of the Third Reich from all public musical activities. Both of their lives merged almost seamlessly: Wagner died in 1883, one year before, Braunfels was born in Frankfurt am Main.


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Braunfels saw himself as a late-romantic traditional composer in succession of Berlioz, Wagner, and Bruckner. During the time of the Third Reich, Braunfels was ousted from all his offices due to him being considered a “Half-Jew” and performances of his works were prohibited. Following World War II, representatives of the musical Avantgarde movement regarded the style of Braunfels as no longer seasonable, slowly causing him to be forgotten. Since the 1990s, the international music world has been rediscovering Braunfels´ lifework, putting in back on the world’s cultural map in a wonderful renaissance.
“Orchesterlieder Volume 2” is yet another Braunfels CD from Hansjörg Albrecht that will be released by the record label Oehms Classics in September of 2016. In addition to the “Konzerthausorchester Berlin”, three world class soprano singers make their musical contribution to the CD: Camilla Nylund, Ricarda Merbeth und Genia Kühmeier


Tour through France

In fall of 2016, the Munich Bach-Choir will go on a tour through France together with the Berlin “Camerata“. This journey will take them to the great cathedrals of Southern France – from Nice to Albi, Montpellier, Aix en Provence, Perpignan, and all the way to Toulouse – as well as to the Cathedral Saint-Pierre in Geneva. Their program for this tour: Händel’s masterpiece “The Messiah“.


Sofia Gubaidulina’s 85th birthday

In honor of the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, Hansjörg Albrecht created two concert programs that will be performed in Munich and in Hamburg (October 2016 and February 2017). The “Bachpreis“ laureate Gubaidulina often references Johann Sebastian Bach in her works, e.g. in ”Reflections on the theme B-A-C-H“ or the choral meditation ”Vor Deinen Thron tret ich hiermit“ (Before your throne I now appear). In addition to these works and others, the audience will also get to hear her famous “Canticle of the Sun” (“Sonnengesang”) for choir, violoncello, celesta and percussion. The concert in Hamburg is presented under the patronage of the violinist Gidon Kremer.


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Antonio Vivaldi, musical avant-gardist, extravagant violin virtuoso and ingenious composer, was in great demand all over Europe. He travelled to cities including Rome, Prague, Vienna and Amsterdam – but the “red-haired priest” never saw Dresden. Despite this, his music was very much present at the Dresden court: the Saxon royal seat was considered the centre of the German cultivation of Vivaldi. Hansjörg Albrecht has now recorded pieces of Vivaldi on the Silbermann Organ of the Court Church in Dresden, including his famous masterpiece The Four Seasons.


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Walter Braunfels had his breakthrough as a composer in the 1920s with the opera “Die Vögel“ (The Birds), inspired by Aristophanes. Shortly after that, he was considered one of the most distinguished and most often played German opera composers, joining the same league as Richard Strauss. His extremely versatile compositional creations consist of numerous operas, orchestra works, chorals, songs, chamber music pieces, and works for piano. He was celebrated as forward-looking representative of the New Music.
Hansjörg Albrecht has been delving into the life of Braunfels for many years and was able to enlist the help of State Orchestra Weimar, as well as the star soloists Michael Volle, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Valentina Farcas for his latest CD project. The record label Oehms Classics has just released the aforementioned CD “Orchesterlieder Volume 1”.


Lectureship at the “Mozarteum“ Salzburg

In the summer semester of 2016, Hansjörg Albrecht accepted a lectureship at the “Mozarteum” in Salzburg. In the vocals department he devoted his efforts to the subjects Oratorio and Sinfonia by working with the students on scores of the romantic repertoire, especially Robert Schumann’s oratorio “Das Paradies und die Peri“ (The paradise and the Peri).
This composition will sound in the fall of this year in Salzburg and Munich as a cooperation with the “Mozarteum” and the Munich Bach Choir. During its world premiere in 1843 in Leipzig, this large-scale worldly oratorio was celebrated greatly by critics and audiences alike, making Robert Schumann internationally famous at once. Schumann created a completely new genre for the musical version of the story of Peri, the fallen angel: ”an oratorio for cheerful people“. Conductors such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Simon Rattle contributed to the rediscovery of this romantic masterpiece.


Wagner Pèlerinage

In 2016, Hansjörg Albrecht resumes his Wagner Pèlerinage, that he began in 2013, with three large-scale concert projects: In cooperation with the Richard Wagner Association, he performs seven Wagner overtures on the 29th of June in Munich and scenes from ”Ring” as organ transcriptions on the 5th of August in Bayreuth. Audiences get to enjoy two extraordinary symphonic organs that were only finished in the past few years.
Furthermore, as a guest of the State Orchestra Weimar on the 9th and 10th of October, Hansjörg Albrecht showcases Wagner’s “Ring ohne Worte“ (Ring without words), an impressive orchestral version of Wagner’s epic masterpiece that was composed by Lorin Maazel in the 1990s.


Charity Concert for Stefan Arzberger

On the 20th of February, 2016, under the direction of Hansjörg Albrecht, there will be a grand charity concert in Munich to support the violinist Stefan Arzberger during his time of great hardship. Famous conductors like Kurt Masur and Herbert Blomstedt, the “Verband Deutscher Streichquartette“ (Association of German String Quartets), several fellow musicians, managers in the bank-, corporate-, and music world (Lucerne Festival, Gewandhaus Leipzig), lawyers, ambassadors etc. are already supporting him. For further information, please check online at www.support-for-arzberger.com or watch the television report on the 17th of May, 2016, as part of the ZDF broadcast “37 Grad”.


Verdi in Munich and Prague

In a German-Bohemian-Italian co-production, Giuseppe Verdi’s epic “Requiem“ will put a spell on audiences in Munich and Prague. For the very first time, the Munich Bach Choir is going to collaborate with the Philharmonic Choir Brno, as they perform this “spiritual opera” together with the renowned PKF Prague Philharmonia in the Munich Philharmonic and the Prague St. Vitus Cathedral. The soloist parts are sung by vocalists of the Milan Scala.


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The extremely versatile composer, performer, and music writer Enjott Schneider, who became famous mostly due to his film scores (soundtracks for the cine films “Herbstmilch“ or ”Stalingrad“, and many television movies), has also created an extensive oeuvre of spiritual music. In January of 2015, the Munich Bach Choir and the Bach Orchestra performed his oratorio ”Augustinus“ in the Herz-Jesu Church in Munich. Furthermore, the audience got to hear Schneider’s Wagner homage “Höchsten Heiles Wunder“ (Supreme Miracle of Salvation) for string orchestra and recorder. Both compositions have been released now on CD.

 

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Georg Friedrich Händel’s oratorio “Saul” shows his true mastership. The magnificent music and opulent orchestration were inspiration for Hansjörg Albrecht to assemble new organ concertos out of this work. These concertos are presented now on his new CD “Grand Musical Entertainment”. They are played by ECHO prize winner Martin Schmeding and the Munich Bach Orchestra. In addition, the CD includes two of Händel’s most famous works, transcribed for organ and recorded in Händel’s baptismal church, the Marktkirche in Halle. The “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” may be heard and seen in a video recorded in Halle.

 

Bach at Moscow

The Russian audience is known for its love for Johann Sebastian Bach. Hansjörg Albrecht has already followed numerous invitations to Russia – from St. Petersburg to Chabarowsk, from Ekaterinburg to Omsk and Irkutsk. In March 2015, he will conduct the ensembles of Gnessin Music Academy Moscow for a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

 

Munich as a center for Early Music

What’s going on in Munich with regard to Baroque music and historically informed performance practice? The public radio station WDR producing the series “Centers of Early Music” has interviewed the harpsichordist Olga Watts, the violinist Rüdiger Lotter as well as the conductors Peter Dijkstra and Hansjörg Albrecht.
To listen to the radio feature click here.

 

Chinese Impressions

In November 2014, Hansjörg Albrecht will conduct the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern in two exceptional concerts performing works by Xiaogang Ye, a prestigious Chinese composer. Besides the world premiere of the piano concerto „Scent Of The Green Mango“ played by Amir Katz the audience will hear the „Song Of The Earth“ for soprano, baritone and orchestra, reflecting Gustav Mahler’s „Song of the Earth“, as well as “Twighlight Of The Himalayas“, a symphonic poem for tenor, boy’s voice, Chinese zheng, choir and orchestra, composed in 2012 and inspired by the beauty of nature in Nepal and Tibet. When performed at the Lincoln Center New York these works caused a veritable storm of enthusiasm. The concerts in Saarbrücken and Munich take place in cooperation with the festival “Musikfestspiele Saar” and the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer has assumed patronage of the event.

 

Touring Japan

In 1969 and in 1981 the Munich Bach Orchestra toured Japan together with the Munich Bach Choir under the baton of Karl Richter. Following up these two concert tours the Orchestra and its Artistic Director Hansjörg Albrecht will make again a two-week concert trip to the “country of the rising sun”. The concerts are scheduled in such renowned locations as the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall and Osaka Symphony Hall. Most of the performances focus on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

 

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Berlioz’ ‘Symphonie fantastique’ performed with an organ? After his previous focus on the works of Poulenc, Wagner, Holst and Russian composers, Hansjörg Albrecht now concentrates on the musical works of Berlioz. The temptation of confirming Berlioz’ statement that ‘the organ is an emperor and has been made for absolute sovereignty’ with the very own music of Berlioz himself was too great for Hansjörg Albrecht to resist. The extraordinary Goll organ, as well as the unique acoustics of the first-class concert hall in the ‘Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern’ (KKL) offered great inspiration for the organ recordings of ‘Symphonie fantastique’ and the ‘Marche hongroise’. To get a glimpse of some impressions from Lucerne click here.

 

Fazil Say times 2

The motto of this year’s ‘Europäische Wochen’ festival in Passau is ‘Without boundaries – all the way to Bosporus’. In the closing concert, the audience will get to experience the ‘musical border crosser’ Fazil Say as both – pianist and composer – together with the Prague Philharmonia and conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht. Fazil Say’s oriental violin concert ‘1001 Nights in the Harem’ will be contrasted with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 and Haydn’s Military Symphony.

 

CD New Release

A CD with symphonic works of Hans Rott was published in June of 2014. This CD is the outcome of the dedication and collaboration of Hansjörg Albrecht and the Munich Symphony Orchestra with baritone Michael Volle. According to the Neue Merker publication, ‘the interpretation of ‘Symphony E major’ by Hansjörg Albrecht together with the beautifully performing orchestra can be considered a one-of-a-kind artistic event. (…) An exemplary recording that is full of a suggestive chromaticity’. The title ‘Balde ruhest Du auch’ (Soon you will be resting as well) refers to a song cycle that was created by Enjott Schneider based on five piano songy by Rott. This is the first recording of that song cycle. A movie has been published to accompany the CD release; click here to listen to the SWR CD tip.

 

Organ XXL

Superlatives are not always a measure of excellent quality. However, with some organs it is just like with large symphony orchestras – the flush of music has the power to enthuse! In July, Hansjörg Albrecht will play four solo recitals on select gigantic instruments – three of which have more than 100 stops – at the organ festival in Saint Eustache, Paris, where one of the most prominent organs of France is located, as well as on the ‘largest cathedral organ of the world’ in Passau (within the festival ‘Europäische Wochen’). Furthermore, he will give concerts on the Klais organ at Munich’s Philharmonie am Gasteig and on the famous organ of the ‘longest Cistercian church of the world’, the Oliva Cathedral in Poland.

 

Giorgio Battistelli: Angeli

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi SS massacre of Sant`Anna di Stazzema, Hansjörg Albrecht will conduct a musical performance of ‘Angeli’ for baritone and orchestra of Giorgio Battistelli at the beginning of July together with the Orchestra della Toscana (Florence). Battistelli is considered one of the most well-respected Italian avant-garde composers of the modern opera. Notable conductors, such as Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano, Lorin Maazel, Daniel Harding and Daniele Gatti focused on the musical works of Battistelli. ‘Angeli’ deals with the gruesome reality of war, destruction, and death, as well as the eternal cry for peace. In this memorial concert, ‘Angeli’ can be viewed as the counterpoint between Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and his Mass in C Major.

 

Ritorno a Napoli

Following the successes of 2011 and 2012, Hansjörg Albrecht will give a guest performance again this summer at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. As part of the program surrounding Mozart’s magnificent Requiem, the Russian choreographer Boris Eifman has created a touching ballet choreography.

 

St. Matthew Passaion at the Salzburg festival hall ‘Festspielhaus’

Hansjörg Albrecht had the pleasure of conducting Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion three times in the sold out festival hall ‘Festspielhaus’ in Salzburg during the passion time 2014. The Bach Collegium Munich and the Munich Bach Choir presented under his direction ‘a captivating performance, flowing, dramaturgically designed around the reliable genius of the composer, without dead perfection or ideals of beauty, vivid, touching, deep’ (DrehPunktKultur – ‘Salzburger Kulturzeitung’ newspaper). 
And the ‘Salzburger Nachrichten’ publication expressed: ‘What impresses the most about the three-dimensional and (almost overly) distinct interpretation Hansjörg Albrecht’s conducts from the cembalo, is its transparency. The reflection on the passion of Christ becomes clear with dramatic conciseness but never as a misunderstood ‘concert opera’.’

 

Collaboration with Vesselina Kasarova

In 2013 there was a first collaboration with the acclaimed mezzo-soprano Vesselina Kasarova. On the occasion of the Gustav-Mahler-Musikwochen in Toblach, she performed Mahler’s Ruckert Songs together with the Munich Symphony Orchestra. Hansjörg Albrecht was the conductor in charge of this performance. During the festival “Europäische Wochen” in Passau, Hansjörg Albrecht played the piano for the mezzo-soprano and performed musical works of Wagner and Berlioz. This successful collaboration is to be continued in 2014 with several recitals, e.g. in Bonn, Amsterdam, and Utrecht.

 

Grammy Nomination

The organ recording of Gustav Holst’s “Planets” has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” in 2013. The felicitous organ transcription of the mighty orchestral work was made by Peter Sykes.
Audio samples may be found here…