Exactly an hour before the party started, it started raining. Not strong enough to keep farmers happy, but thanks to gale-force storms, enough to torment visitors who came to Luckau for the opening of the Brandenburg summer parties. Shortly after the founding of the festival, which sends classics to the country, he was a guest at St. Nikolai’s Church there for the first time in 1992, Prime Minister Dietmar Wodecky recalls in his welcome address. At that time, the proud Gothic church with a splendid Baroque interior was in a desolate state, and many areas were closed due to ruin.
Like the whole city of Lower Lusatia, Nikolaikirche has long been restored in the best way as a monument. What remains, however, quickly becomes clear in concert with the Zielona Gora Philharmonic Orchestra, is the problem of acoustics. The tones here resonate twice as long as a perfect concert hall, and the instrument’s excessive tonal spectrum is cut short, making the acoustic impression dull and faint.
Energy and enthusiasm can be felt
Under the guidance of young general music director Rafal Klochko, musicians from the western Polish city are working hard on the other hand, and the energy and vitality of Mozart’s Figaro can be felt just as clearly as in Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. Yet much mystery remains, the interpretive detail is missing in Wattig’s mystique. Romantic works are easier here than delicate Viennese classics, as evidenced in the encore, the Polones from the opera “Hrapina” by the Polish composer Stanislaw Moniuszko.
Pianist Martin Helmchen wisely deals with vocal challenges. In Mozart’s Key Piano Concerto KV 451, he gave life to a musical thesis: that is, all the music of the genius of Salzburg has its roots in musical theatre. He actively organizes his solo role at Bechstein’s grand piano, plays gesturalism, and becomes a storyteller. The slow motion in the center in particular appears as an opera without words: a night scene appears before the inner eye, in which an imaginary soprano is consumed with a tender longing for love. It’s also impressive how Helmchen is able to ultimately create brilliance through as much of nature as possible – thus replacing painfully lost sunlight on a chilly weekend in May.
With this inaugural concert, Wolfram Kaur, Managing Director and Artistic Director of the Brandenburg Summer Concerts, set two accents that point to the future. In the future he wants to work extensively with Martin Helmchen and his wife, cellist Mary Elizabeth Hecker. Because the talented couple, who live not far from Luckau, plan to expand the Bohnsdorf “Drauschenmühle” into a campus for artists and organize an innovative international chamber music festival from 2023, with events throughout the Spreewald region. There’s already a preview this summer, in concert in the barn on August 27.
Cultural exchange with Poland
Wolfram Kaur also wants to strengthen the festival’s connections with Poland. A guest performance by Zielona Gora on August 6 will follow a return visit to the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra in Gorzow, the former Landsberg an der Warthe. The city of 123,000 inhabitants, 80 kilometers northeast of Frankfurt/Oder, has had a modern concert hall with 600 seats since 2012. Young Portuguese violinist Javier Comissana will play Mendelssohn’s violin concerto there, and maestro Jacob Lehmann has composed symphonic works For Greg, Kodaly and Milhaud chose this “European party” for him. In September, Brandenburg’s Summer Concerts offer two more weekend excursions with the Culture Train to Legnica and Wroclaw, including an on-board program on the cruise and visits to on-site concerts.
Festival organizer Korr also wants to go beyond style over the next 16 weekends, and in addition to authentic classical music – sometimes in unusual locations like the Niederfinow ship lift or the construction site of the Potsdam Garrison Church – there are also musicals at Doberlug Park Castle, the Klazz Brothers, and Cuba Percussion in Buckow, film music at Pfingstberg, folk music at Schorfheide Game Reserve, medieval music at Gerswalde moated castle and operettas at Senftenberg.