"Fantastic!" - Season 2 of Con spirito

Antje Weithaas, Maximilian Hornung, Peter Bruns, Shirley Brill and others made music in the European Heritage Sites.

With the Nutcracker Suite by Peter Tchaikovsky, based on one of E.T.A. Hoffmann's most famous literary works, the Leipzig Chamber Music Festival Con spirito ended on Sunday morning in the Great Hall of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre. MDR Kultur and MDR Klassik recorded the final concert and will probably broadcast it in November. The successful second season of the festival organised by the Schumann-Verein Leipzig, conceived by artistic director Peter Bruns, was dedicated to the father of Romanticism - E.T.A. Hoffmann - who died 200 years ago, under the motto "Fantastic".

From 10 to 18 September, stars of the international chamber music scene gave concerts in Leipzig's European cultural heritage sites, the salons and places of activity of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg, Richard Wagner and Clara and Robert Schumann. A total of eight concerts and two student concerts featured Shirley Brill (clarinet), Antje Weithaas, Stephen Waarts (violin), Martin Helmchen, Antti Siirala (piano) and the cellists Maximilian Hornung and Peter Bruns in various instrumentations. The next Con spirito Chamber Music Festival will take place from 3 to 10 September 2023.

Martin Helmchen provided an unforgettable concert marathon at Con spirito. In addition to his performances in the opening concert and in the Schumann House, he interpreted all six Bach Partitas in the Thomaskirche on a tangent grand piano from 1790. After more than three hours, the audience was overwhelmed and deeply moved. The rediscovered compositions by Emilie Mayer, which ran through almost all the concerts, provided surprises. Her large-scale and cleverly conceived string quintet was probably performed publicly for the first time in the summer hall of the Bach Archive as part of Con spirito, according to current sources.

The idea of Leipzig's only chamber music festival, organised by the Schumann-Verein Leipzig, also worked in 2022. Organiser Gregor Nowak sums up: "Through the diverse cooperation possibilities offered by Con spirito, we present the entire music city of Leipzig to the outside world and at the same time support each of the houses with their individual offerings in their external presentation. In the future, it will be more important than ever to work together in order to be more visible, to combine forces and to absorb the enormous challenges facing the entire cultural sector. One of those opportunities for collaboration and cohesion is Con spirito."

Con spirito also follows its own signature in programme design: In addition to Apple Music playlists that invite you to compare interpretations, feature writer Magdalene Melchers produced a programme podcast with Peter Bruns and E.T.A. Hoffmann expert Rainer Lewandowski for each concert.

The fantasy of E.T.A. Hoffmann - whether in ghostly night pieces or colourful fantasy pieces - defined the Con spirito concerts in 2022. With his fantasy that upset the world order, combined with his curiosity about the latest scientific findings in psychology and technology as well as his image as an artist, he inspired composers such as Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner, Antonìn Dvořák, Peter Tchaikovsky and Emilie Mayer, whose works were heard at Con spirito. Among the works heard were Hoffmann's Grand Trio in E major, the collaborative work by Robert Schumann, Albert Dietrich and Johannes Brahms: the F.A.E. Sonata, the original version of Brahms' Piano Trio op. 8, which the latter wrote with "Joh. Kreisler jun. (based on Hoffmann's Kapellmeister of the same name).

The programme also included the rarely heard string quartet "Un notturno nella maniera di E.Th.A. Hoffmann" by the Swede Ture Rangström as well as arrangements of Jacques Offenbach's "Barcarolle" from the opera "The Tales of Hoffmann" and the "Marche du supplice" from Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique". The romantic programme was complemented by compositions by Beethoven and Mozart, which strongly influenced E.T.A. Hoffmann, such as Mozart's Grande Sestetto Concertante and his Clarinet Quintet as well as Beethoven's Piano Quartet in C major.

The chamber music festival opened in the Mendelssohn Hall of the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig. The venues include other outstanding institutions of music history and the present: the Bach Archive, the Schumann House, the Mendelssohn House, the Old Nikolai School, the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre, the C. F. Peters music publishing house with Grieg meeting place, and St. Thomas Church. Venue portraits: https://www.conspiritoleipzig.de/spielorte/

Con spirito - The Leipzig Chamber Music Festival at the European Heritage Sites
03 to 10 September 2023
facebook.com/conspirito.leipzig | instagram.com/conspirito.leipzig

ABOUT CON SPIRITO - Music lives here!
Con spirito breathes the spirit of Leipzig - a city where creativity is reflected in a wealth of cultural institutions that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Beginning with the founding of the St Thomas's Boys Choir, the work of Johann Sebastian Bach and the development of the first civic concert orchestra, Leipzig developed into one of the most important European cultural metropolises in the 19th century. The authentic sites that made Leipzig a world-renowned city of music were awarded the European Heritage Label in 2018.

Artistic director: Peter Bruns
Organisational management: Gregor Nowak
PR / Marketing: Franziska Franke-Kern | accolade pr

European Foundation of the Rahn Dittrich Group for Education and Culture, Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony, City of Leipzig

Shirley Brill (clarinet)
Sarah Christian, Tobias Feldmann, Johanna Schreiber, Stephen Waarts, Antje Weithaas (violin)
Noémie Bialobroda, Pauline Sachse (viola)
Peter Bruns, Maximilian Hornung, Valentino Worlitzsch (violoncello)
Benedikt Hübner (double bass)
Martin Helmchen, Annegret Kuttner, Antti Siirala, Christoph Traxler (piano)

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