Aug 30 2013

The Sound of Grafenegg Outdoors

Published by at 7:42 pm under PSO 2013 European Tour

Grafenegg castle

Grafenegg castle

The Radetzky of “Radetzky March” fame is just a half-hour away, honored with a museum and memorial. Composer and piano maker Ignaz Pleyel is just down the road with corn fields and vineyards all around. Grafenegg is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. It surrounds a 13th-century castle still owned and occupied by descendents of the Metternich family. The Grafenegg Festival is a place of manicured lawns and gigantic old trees, cafés, gardens and sculpture; freestanding wine, champagne, and dinner kiosks; recliners, a wine shop, an old concert hall, a new one, and an ultramodern outdoor one.

Composer Brett Dean

Composer Brett Dean

You can imagine a conversation where music lovers sat around on this spot consuming the delicious light, fresh, new Grüner Veltliner asking each other, “If you could have anything you like at a music festival, what would you like to have and how could it be better than all the other European Festivals that draw people like Prince Charles?” At the end of the talking, someone says, “We’ll do it!,” and the sponsors are on board along with the government of Lower Austria. They will write a blank check.

There is no detail too small: from sunscreen for the orchestra at rehearsal, to a glass of wine for every member of the orchestra, and deep-red blanket wraps elegantly sold for 15 Euros to audience members looking to ward off a night-time chill.

Yuja Wang rehearses Tchaikovsky

Yuja Wang rehearses Tchaikovsky

Manfred Honeck’s family was on hand: Christiane, Joachim, Anna, Teresa, Simeon, sister Elfie, brother-in-law Florian Partl, and sister Sybilla, the cellist. The governor of Lower Austria, Erwin Pröll, and a host of rulers of the empire celebrated at the castle after the second encore, which featured Principal Clarinet Michael Rusinek in Khachaturian’s Galop from “Masquerade” embellished with a lick from the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, a dot from the “Blue Danube” Waltz, and a touch of “Edelweiss.”

Yuja Wang was sensational and fast in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The piano moving technicians wear elegant grey gloves. The guy sitting in front of me wore two-tone white and blue shoes. Don’t step on his!

Wolkenturm at Grafenegg

Wolkenturm at Grafenegg

The winds and brass have so many great moments in the Shostakovitch; Principal Oboe Cynthia Koledo de Almeida, Principal Bassoon Nancy Goeres, and Principal Horn Bill Caballero all were wonderful; as well as Principal Flute Lorna McGhee with her encore from Bizet’s “Carmen.” Lighting everywhere calls attention to architectural details. Flickering flames outline white tables where wine sippers enjoy an intermission nip. It was a night to remember.

Surely they thought about how to please butterflies who flit about in the sunlight. Fresh-scrubbed teenagers in their white golf shirts smile at everyone. No one hassles the shutterbugs! A Land Rover, Jaguars and Maybachs are parked near the entrance. I’m not doing it justice.

The land of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven knows how to to present music — outdoors and in.