What a fantastic full moon! I stood at the back door leading to our garden and watched it in awe for many minutes. How big it seemed to be! That old dream from my childhood came back – me, flying to the moon. The dream is still very much alive, I feel it intensely when I watch the moon on days like that one, a month ago. And by chance that very same evening I discovered a composer whose piano music seemed to perfectly fit my mood. Or was it the music that discovered me at the right time?
April 2015: I am at the Opéra Bastille in Paris and the final curtain on Antonin Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka”, Op. 114 has just fallen. An exhilarating experience. I remember I left the opera in a kind of trance, perpetuated at least for some time by a glass of wine at the opera restaurant. The magnitude of the performance, directed by Robert Carsen and conducted by Jakub Hrusa, probably was the main reason why I never resolved myself to write a post about it even though I had one scheduled for autumn 2015. I was worried that the unique impression of music, the acting and the stage design would dwarf anything I would feel when listening to a mere recording and prevent me from rendering justice to Dvorak’s work (the casting is available here).
Antonin Dvorak’s String Quintet in E flat major (Op. 97) has a singular impact on me: It enhances any feelings I harbour at the specific moment I am listening to that piece. Sadness, joy, melancholy, optimism… Which means that the music does not transport a specific feeling, but rather lays bare the feelings inside myself. The music breaks up the armor and makes me aware of what I feel. What a gift from a composer to mankind! It has been recorded in the 1990s by the Wiener Streichsextett and quite recently by the Pavel Haas Quartet along with Pavel Niki, a recording that I warmly, warmly recommend.
Some hundred years separate Mozart’s String Quartet no. 7 from this mind-blowing piece. In 1887 Antonin Dvorak composed his Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major (Op. 81/B. 155), and I must tell you, the recording by the Pavel Haas Quartet and Boris Giltburg at the piano is quite a revelation. When I heard it for the first time I got really excited, and I still am whenever I listen to it.