Schumann conjures the Fairy of Spring

I am still fathoming the depth of Schumann's work. © Charles Thibo
I am still fathoming the depth of Schumann’s work. © Charles Thibo

The Philharmonie de Luxembourg has a curious sense of timing. Performing Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, commonly called “Spring Symphony”, in October! On a day marked by drizzle, fog and a single, uniform shade of grey? Or was it meant as an encouragement? Hang tight, spring is just months away? Be that as it may, I did enjoy the concert, oh yes!

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Meeting Anton Rubinstein in Dresden

Anton Rubinstein lived and composed in St. Petersburg and in Dresden. © Charles Thibo
Anton Rubinstein lived and composed in St. Petersburg and in Dresden. © Charles Thibo

Those Russians! They are incredible. Incredibly in many respects, but especially when it comes to piano music. Enters the stage Anton Rubinstein. Born in 1829, he gave his first public concert barely ten years old: In Moscow he played pieces composed by Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Franz Liszt.  He had taken piano lessons with his mother initially, than with a personal teacher and composed his first piece at the age of five. As a child virtuoso he travelled to Paris, where he met Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt and participated in a concert at the prestigious Salle Pleyel in 1841. His journey took him to the Netherlands, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Poland and Germany.

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Jubilate or the joy of being

Greeting the moon and Venus at sunrise. © Charles Thibo
Greeting the moon and Venus at sunrise. © Charles Thibo

Sometimes, when I leave the house early in the morning and the sun is about to rise over the horizon, I feel a deep serenity inside myself, coupled with a glowing joy of being. And if I were a better singer, I would probably start singing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” KV 165 (158a). It is such a wonderful piece, and I can listen to it again and again. It makes me relive that joy and serenity all over.

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Messiaen’s puzzle shrouded in a cloud of sound

The mountains have inspired composers as much as the sea. © Charles Thibo
The mountains have inspired composers as much as the sea. © Charles Thibo

Shocked, No. Amused? Definitely. Yesterday evening the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst performed Olivier Messiaen’s piece “Chronochromie” in Luxembourg. Those 25 minutes were an interesting sound experiment and an excellent prelude to Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem op. 64 “Alpensinfonie” that was to follow after the pause.
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