Nov 09 2012

Stuttgart Liederhalle

Published by at 8:55 pm under PSO 2012 European Tour

Liederhalle Stuttgart

Liederhalle Stuttgart

The ride from Frankfurt to Stuttgart was smooth. I admired the nice fall colors in the leaves of trees along the Autobahn. We arrived late, and it was tough because the players went right to the stage of the Liederhalle to rehearse Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with soloist Rudolf Buchbinder.

The hall was full. Big and broad but with good sound. The ushers were relaxed about my camera which was nice. A terrific CD store in the lobby enjoyed brisk sales of the Pittsburgh Symphony/Honeck Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony on the Exton label, which Classical QED 89.3 offered during our most recent QED fundraising drive. Still available at wqed.org!

Who was it I heard on the bus mentioning the line, “I have perfect moveable pitch. Wherever I am sounds perfect to me.” It did seem like a perfect evening. Principal Horn William Caballero was amazing in his solos, but there were so many great moments. Michael Rusinek has whisper-quiet clarinet phrases, and Nancy Goeres’ smooth-as-Nutella bassoon solos in the Scherzo. There were two bouquets of flowers tonight: one for Manfred, and one for Noah Bendix-Balgley, who has a great solo moment in the Gershwin concerto. It was another great night for trumpet Charles Lirette. Manfred Honeck walked back into the brass to pull Charles center stage with Rudolf Buchbinder to take a bow.

There was healthy applause at the end of the first movement of the Gershwin. Manfred gave the audience the thumbs-up signal with a big smile, as he had done during the movement break in the Dvorak in Pittsburgh. Rudolf Buchbinder was full of life and energy, kicking his legs about in a mini-ballet under the keyboard.

Michael Rusinek had another twist on the clarinet cadenza for the Khachaturian Galop from Masquerade. This time, it included a bit of the Gershwin concerto, some Tchaikovsky, and just a few notes of Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles, the German national anthem from Haydn’s string quartet. A perfect farewell to Germany and the next-to-last concert on the tour.

The Liederhalle is on one of Stuttgart’s busiest streets. Streetcars whiz along. The hall has an unusual shape like a grand piano. The balcony is striking, rising like a grand staircase from the left side of the main floor. The big Beethovensaal was last renovated in 1992. There are actually four halls, two of which seat 2,000, including a Mozartsaal, Silchersaal and Hegesaal. On the same square is a Cinemax Theater, now showing the latest Bourne movie in German. There are many nearby restaurants Restaurants and a large center for Media.

I enjoyed speaking with Thomas Brand, the Geschäftsleiter for BNY Mellon in Germany. He’s taken on added responsibility this past year, having helped grow business for the company. He noted the long association with Mellon and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Brand explained that they don’t really discuss business matters around the concert, it just brings client relationships to a whole new level. He loved the concert, noting that Steven Stucky’s Silent Spring was a challenge for the audience, but moving. He told me he thinks the economy for 2013 is impossible to predict, although he feels better about the Euro’s chances for survival. He says that Angela Merkel is doing the right things to lead the European economy. Manfred Honeck was headed off for dinner after the concert with BNY Mellon folks.

Standing in line to say hello after the concert was Elianne Schiedmayer, the CEO of Schiedmayer Celesta, the company that makes the instrument Tchaikovsky made famous in his Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Elianne has been to Pittsburgh several times to make sure our instrument is in good shape. She says the Sugar Plum can be played by a glockenspiel or electric piano, but that there’s nothing like the real thing. She’s an interesting woman, born in Haiti. Her father was a doctor in Haiti, and she knew the Mellon family of Pittsburgh from their long work to establish a hospital and improve medical care in that country.

I am enjoying listening to Klassik Radio on my FM portable I bring along. I switched on the TV for a moment, and Pro Sieben network was starting the first of the trilogy of Terminator films dubbed in German. This is the one where he does in the bad robot in a pit of molten steel and then, having saved mankind, has to terminate himself by being lowered into the steel.

You know those ads for the Veg-O-Matics? They’re always on in Europe. I was really tempted by a CD collection featuring the harmonica player Michael Hirte offered by Shop24direct.de. The collection is 49.99 Euros with 84 hits like Bridge over Troubled Water, What a Wonderful World, and Ave Maria. The Liebesgrusse auf der Mundharmonika. It’s a must have.

Luxembourg is the tour’s wrap-up in less than 24 hours.