Instrument of the Year
Great joy! The German music councils have chosen the organ as the instrument of the year 2021. A whole series of celebratory concerts are to be held in its honor. “Finally. The “Queen of Instruments” returns to her throne. To where she reigned for centuries: as the greatest of all musical instruments” so writes Matthias Keller in a recent post on BR-KLASSIK.
Since three years, organ music and organ building have also been recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. The organ is the only instrument in the world equal to the orchestra in sonority and variety of sound. For more than two thousand years, organ builders and instrumentalists have continuously developed the instrument further and no instrument in the world has such a broad repertoire as the organ.
Christmas at the Gasteig
Under the title “Christmas at the Gasteig,” the traditional Christmas concert once again invites the audience to a joyful evening at the Munich Philharmonic Hall. With timpani and trumpets, with readings, arias and classical music as well as American Christmas carols, it puts the audience in the mood for contemplative holidays. Under the direction of Hansjörg Albrecht, members of the Munich Bach Orchestra can be heard, as well as virtually connected singers from the Munich Bach Choir – along with mezzo-soprano Cornelia Lanz, Gasteig managing director Max Wagner, presenter Anouschka Horn and the Arcis Saxophone Quartet, which provides a velvety wind sound. For over 20 years, young and old have come to this annual highlight in the festively decorated Philharmonic Hall. This special year, the Gasteig invites everyone to enjoy the Christmas concert on December 24, 2020 at 4 p.m. in the free stream at home.
Music Gives Help
Shortly before Christmas, musicians from the Bavarian State Orchestra in Munich, together with freelance Munich artists, want to give help through music. An unceremoniously organized Charity Online Festival combines 24 different events in six days. From December 18 to 23, concerts of classical music, jazz, tango and chansons will be broadcast online at hourly intervals (7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.) from various venues around the city. The festival takes place in cooperation with the SZ Advent Calendar and the “Sternstunden” campaign of the Bavarian Broadcasting.
Hansjörg Albrecht’s organ concert, broadcast live from the Gasteig, will conclude the Charity Online Festival and set the mood for Christmas Eve on the day before Christmas with Reger’s “Weihachten” and Hoyer’s “Die Geburt Christi,” among others.
Standing up for Arts
In the so-called Lockdown Light, which has once again hit the cultural sector hard from the beginning of November 2020, the singers Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, Kevin Conners and Christian Gerhaher, as well as the conductor and organist Hansjörg Albrecht have founded the initiative “Standing up for Arts”: A group of internationally renowned concert and opera singers, conductors, instrumental soloists and musicians of leading symphony and opera orchestras have joined forces to have the Bavarian Administrative Court legally review the complete closure of concert and opera houses ordered to combat the Covid 19 pandemic. The aim of the petitioners is to obtain an appropriate consideration of their interests that does justice to the fundamental right to artistic freedom. The petitioners are not concerned with denying the need for effective protection against infection or with playing down the danger posed by the COVID 19 pandemic. From the applicants’ point of view, a complete, long-term closure of all cultural institutions – despite the availability of scientific studies and detailed hygiene concepts – does not provide an adequate response to the Corona dangers and does not sufficiently take into account the constitutional rights of artists. The applicants receive legal advice from the renowned Berlin law firm RAUE. A very large group of other artists have joined the planned application as supporters. After the declaration of a state of emergency in Bavaria and the transition to a hard lockdown in December, the applicants have decided to postpone legal remedies for the time being.
From the New World
In the Corona summer of 2020, Hansjörg Albrecht was able to realize a long-cherished recording wish within his organ transcription series on the OehmsClassics label: The recording of Antonín Dvořák’s ingenious 9th symphony on the three-part symphonic organ of Hamburg’s main church St. Michaelis. Hamburg has been considered the “gateway to the world” at the latest since the great crossings of emigrants to America, and so it was only natural to record the works Dvořáks, Barbers and Coplands there. The CD is dedicated to Albrecht’s great idol, the legendary Anglo-American conductor, concert organist, arranger and sound magician Leopold Stokowski – a man of superlatives who became a legend through his BACH arrangements and his participation in Walt Disney’s film Fantasia, among other things. He would probably have liked the opulent acoustics in Hamburg’s Michel and the richness of color in his organs. The CD will be published in November 2020 (trailer).
Bruckner@Organ: St. Florian
At Anton Bruckner’s former place of work, the Augustinian Canon Monastery of St. Florian, Hansjörg Albrecht began his great recording cycle of all Bruckner symphonies as organ transcriptions at the end of May 2020. In the baroque collegiate church of the monastery stands one of the largest organs in Europe with 103 sounding voices. After his first years of apprenticeship as a member of the St. Florian Boys’ Choir, Bruckner later became the monastery organist there, thus laying the foundation for his international career as Master of the Queen of Instruments. In the course of his life, he returned to the monastery again and again to compose in peace, and was buried at his own request under the great organ that bears his name today. It was in this mystical place that Hansjörg Albrecht recorded Bruckner’s Overture in G minor and his so-called “Nullte” Symphony – contrasted by a first “Bruckner Window” by the young German composer Philipp Maintz. The CD will be published in September 2020 (trailer).
When all concerts were cancelled a few weeks ago due to the Corona pandemic, it was clear that there would be no St. Matthew Passion by Bach in the Munich Philharmonic Hall this year. For the Munich Bach Choir and the Munich Bach Orchestra, which since its foundation over 60 years ago have always performed this masterpiece on Good Friday and thus established a tradition in Munich, the disappointment was as great as it was for numerous regular listeners. Good Friday without the St. Matthew Passion is actually unthinkable, many people said. Hansjörg Albrecht therefore developed the idea of combining the stirring message of the Gospel of Matthew with Bach’s touching music in a simple yet impressive way and sending it home to the listeners from the empty Philharmonie. The result can be seen at BR KulturBühne.
Corona Virus and Resurrection Symphony
In July 2019, Hansjörg Albrecht, together with Valentina Farcas (soprano), Bettina Ranch (mezzo-soprano) and the choir and orchestra of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, performed Gustav Mahler’s gigantic “Resurrection Symphony” at the Ljubljana Concert Hall, the Bressanone Cathedral and at the Gustav Mahler Music Weeks in Dobbiaco. The recording of the concert in Dobbiaco is now – in times of the corona virus – being broadcasted as virtual evening concert on the YouTube channel “South Tyrol in concert”. On 29 March 2020 at 8 pm the video is activated: Viewers can then watch this concert together virtually and talk with each other in a chat – a bit like a live concert experience.
During his lifetime Anton Bruckner initially enjoyed only the reputation of one of the greatest organ virtuosos of his time and was famous throughout Europe. His most outstanding skill was improvisation. Many motifs and themes of Bruckner’s symphonies are said to have come to his mind while improvising. He had to fight hard to gain recognition as a composer. For many years his symphonies were not taken seriously. In 2020, as part of a major cd project, Hansjörg Albrecht begins to record all Bruckner symphonies as organ transcriptions for the label OehmsClassics. The recordings will take place at Bruckner’s former places of activity or other original locations such as St. Florian, Linz, Vienna and Munich.
The Association of the Many, DIE VIELEN, is a broad alliance of cultural institutions in many German cities. In the Berlin Declaration of November 2018, creators of arts and culture advocate solidarity with those who are threatened by right-wing agitation and hindered in their work. Hansjörg Albrecht also supports this initiative for the freedom of art and has co-signed. “Art creates a space to change the world” is the title of the Bavarian Declaration of DIE VIELEN. We are committed to the diversity of our society and engage in an open, enlightening, critical dialogue on right-wing populist strategies.
Beethoven & Tchaikovsky from the Elbphilharmonie
At the beginning of December 2019, Hansjörg Albrecht guested again at the impressive Elbphilharmonie Hamburg – this time together with the Staatskapelle Weimar. You can experience the live Youtube recording of the 8th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven and the 1st Symphony “Winter Dreams” by Peter Tchaikovsky here. As an encore, the orchestra played the polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin”.
Since 2013, Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, Hansjörg Albrecht has been giving concerts with a wide variety of programs at Wagner venues and in important music centers – in 2019 the venues include the Konzerthaus Vienna, the parish church of Pfronten/Allgäu (near Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairy-tale castle of his patron Ludwig II.), during the Bayreuth Festival in the local town church as well as in the cathedral of Würzburg, the town where Wagner began composing his opera “The Fairies” in 1833 and at the same time had his first engagement as choir director and choir répétiteur at the municipal theater.
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In 2006 Hansjörg Albrecht began his collaboration with the OehmsClassics label with a brilliantly reviewed debut CD featuring scenes from Richard Wagner’s “Ring”. He has since established himself internationally as a specialist for organ transcriptions. After his second organ recording of five Wagner overtures, he has now completed the five opera overtures still missing on a third CD, adding the Siegfried Idyll to them. He is probably the only concert organist in the world who has dedicated himself to Wagner’s works to this extent. The CD was recorded on the symphonic Woehl organ of the parish church Herz-Jesu in Munich.
Third Japan Tour
In Japan, one cultivates an intimate relationship with nature in the changing seasons: Even a single short signal word is enough to anchor a haiku at its place in the annual cycle. When the Munich Bach Orchestra under the direction of Hansjörg Albrecht travels the country in the Far East again in the fall of 2019, the change in Japanese nature will accompany the musicians during these two weeks. For this purpose, they have brought with them some of the most beautiful works by Bach and Handel, which they will unpack, for example, in the Opera City Concert Hall in Tokyo, the Minato Mirai Hall in Yokohama, the Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya, but also in the famous Kitara Hall in Sapporo and the Kyoto Concert Hall. As a homage to the Land of the Rising Sun, Hansjörg Albrecht has created a pasticcio from individual cantata movements by Bach and christened the new orchestral suite thus created “To the Sun”.
Festivals often provide special highlights in the music business. In January Hansjörg Albrecht conducts for the first time at the International Mozart Week Salzburg at the invitation of Rolando Villazon. In May he will be guest as conductor and harpsichordist at the Bach Festival Rostock, organized by the Neue Bach-Gesellschaft, and with Bach’s Goldberg Variations he will be part of the Valletta International Baroque Festival. With Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony” he is invited to the Ljubljana Festival and the Gustav Mahler Music Weeks in Dobbiaco this summer.
The Queen of Instruments
In 2019, Hansjörg Albrecht will once again be taking several journeys to selected organs around the world: including concerts with organ transcriptions by Wagner and Holst at Vienna Konzerthaus and Würzburg Cathedral, with Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Bogota Concert Hall (Colombia) and St. John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta (Malta), with various Bach programs to Japan, to the Cathedral of Chartres, St. Eustache in Paris, Westminster Cathedral London and the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, as well as repeatedly to the Fraumünster Zurich as part of the “Chagall Concerts”.
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“Many people do not believe in God, but when they hear Bach, they become religious. It might be that this man invented ideal music 300 years ago.” With this thesis, Alard von Kittlitz prefaced his comprehensive observations on Bach in the journal DIE ZEIT in 2018. Even 333 years after his birth, for many people Bach still ranks among the greatest musicians in world history. Richard Wagner called him “the most astonishing musical miracle of all time”.
In October 2018, the label Oehms Classics newly released the recording of “Clavier Übung” by Hansjörg Albrecht as box set. On four selected new organs built according to the construction principles of the 18th century Hansjörg Albrecht presents Bach’s masterly cycle in orchestral and baroque XXL format.
50 Years Bach in Moscow
In 1968 Karl Richter and his ensembles, the Munich Bach Choir and Bach Orchestra, travelled the former USSR for the first time as German Cultural Ambassadors. The accompanying 150 choristers and musicians had in their luggage the “most Russian of all composers”, as leading Russian musicians repeatedly call him: Johann Sebastian Bach. One of the major works performed in the Tchaikovsky Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the Leningrad Philharmonic at that time was Bach’s Mass in B Minor. During the Cold War, this was a revolution, as the performance of sacred music was de facto forbidden. The rush to the completely sold out concerts was therefore unimaginably great.
50 years after this premiere, the Munich Bach Choir under Hansjörg Albrecht is now travelling to Russia again in the autumn of 2018 to perform this skyrocketing work, whose manuscript has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015, at the invitation of the Moscow Philharmonic Society in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
A recording of the concert is available here for listening.
German Cultural Ambassador to Israel
Maestro Zubin Mehta, the legendary conductor, celebrates his 50th anniversary as musical director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with a brilliant farewell season. The Munich Bach Choir was invited to perform at the opening concerts of this season in October 2018. The tour with a total of 10 concerts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa will take the ensemble to Israel for the first time in its history. In keeping with this special occasion, Mozart’s radiantly festive Coronation Mass will be on the programme – as well as the world premiere of Uri Brenner’s “The Prophet”, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with Martha Argerich and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Denis Matsuev. The concerts of this journey, which is largely sponsored by the Goethe-Institut, the Federal Foreign Office and the Bavarian State Chancellery, each begin with the Jewish national anthem “Hatikvah” (Hope). The fact that a German choir may sing this anthem is both a novelty and a great honour. Here you can see a report of the ARD.
O Fortuna … the world wheel turns again!
Carl Orff’s work will be presented at this year’s Carl Orff Festival in the context of the diverse works of his role models, teachers, partners and students. Hansjörg Albrecht starts with Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” in the monastery church of St. Ottilien in combination with Orff’s canon from the “Spiel vom Ende der Zeiten – De temporum fine comoedia”. In the final concert entitled “The Resurrection”, Bach’s Easter Oratorio is juxtaposed with the “Comoedia de Christi Resurrectione” composed by Orff in 1955 – a mystery play with medieval echoes. With this programme the Munich Bach Choir and the Bach Orchestra reflect on their history, as Carl Orff led the so-called Munich Bach Association for several years before the Second World War, thus setting strong accents in the Bach tradition of the state capital.
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The Faust Symphony, first performed in Weimar in 1857, is one of the most important works by Franz Liszt. The instrumentation of the orchestra also calls an organ. Therefore it was obvious that Hansjörg Albrecht would once take up this symphonic poem for a complete organ version. 2018 was a particularly good time for this, as Munich was dominated by a large-scale Faust festival. For the recording, which is dedicated to the famous Parisian organist Jean Guillou, the powerful Klais organ in the Philharmonic Hall of Munich Gasteig was at his disposal.
The barnstorming TONALI festival week will be kicked off with a journey through the musical city of Hamburg. The so-called PartiT(o)ur emphasizes the value chain between the creation and the presentation of music. In the MusikMobil of our partner The Young ClassX, 36 students will visit 12 stations that representative of the daily musical life in Hamburg. This unique journey will reach its’ climax in the grand opening concert with the same name on the 25th of June 2018, showcasing composers from Hamburg in the main church St. Michaelis, performed by 120 musicians, singers, soloists, and ensembles – under the direction of Hansjörg Albrecht. No fewer than eight stages will bring this event to life. Interested guests can expect a special concert of glorious musical proportion.
Faust Symphony for Organ & Dance
With his Faust Symphony, Franz Liszt created a musical work that was very much ahead of its time. Using Goethe’s drama as the guiding idea, the symphony points out in three character images that striving for that »which holds the world together at its core« has become the central cultural asset. From a musical standpoint and as a genre-definer, the piece was revolutionary despite the fact that is one of the less well-known works of the composer. Arranged for organ, this musical work is turned into a truly unique performance on the 13th of June, 2018 at the Gasteig in Munich, as dance and music are brought together in the most fascinating way. The »queen of instruments« is put in the spotlight extraordinarily with the arrangement by Hansjörg Albrecht and the choreography by Matteo Carvone – supported by the dancers of the Gärtnerplatz Theater and the Iwanson International School of Contemporary Dance. You can find a backstage report here.
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg – Entrance to the “Gate to the World”
All the way up on the so-called Kaispeicher, an area known around the world for the historic warehouse with the same name, at the entrance to the port city of Hamburg, you can find Germany’s most modern and spectacular concert hall located on top of the city just like a throne – the Elbphilharmonie. For the very first time in the early evening of the 4th advent of the year, right there, in the famous great hall, Hansjörg Albrecht will perform Bach’s Christmas Oratorio – as is typical for him and common practice for the time of Baroque – at the harpsichord. With this great piece taken from Albrecht’s core repertoire, he will also be a guest at the same location in December of 2018, this time for a first time cooperation with the Haendel Festival Orchestra Halle.
Debut as Conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Hansjörg Albrecht has visited the Great Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the jewel of German and international concert halls, several times to perform as an organist – most recently as part of the International Organ Series with his performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations“. Now, in November 2017, he will be on stage of the same concert hall as a conductor for the very first time. Following an invitation of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Hansjörg Albrecht will conduct Dvořák’s famous Violoncello Concert and Mozart’s Requiem. Among other artists, he will be joined by the Carl-Philipp-Emanuel-Bach-Choir Hamburg, a choir Hansjörg Albrecht has been working closely with for many years as associate conductor.
Mozart in Naples
The Italian Giorgio Strehler (1921-1997) was considered one of the most renowned European theater and opera directors of his time. He made his international breakthrough in 1965 during the Salzburg Festival with a standard defining production of Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio”. In 2017, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his death, Milan’s La Scala, a venue he already felt very connected to in his early years, will bring a reproduction of Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio” in Strehler’s unique style back on stage. The conductor was – just like 1965 in Salzburg – Maestro Zubin Mehta. The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples will follow the lead of La Scala in fall of 2017 with its’ own series of performances, featuring an exquisite selection of international soloists. Hansjörg Albrecht has been invited as guest conductor for this series.
Visiting 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CD New Release
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.
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.