Last weekend, the Konzerthaus in Vienna celebrated its centenary with a dazzling
array of musical intent that covered vast artistic terrain, and all delivered
with the highest quality.
As the facility’s executive director Matthias
Naske noted in his speech, during the official anniversary ceremony: “The Vienna
Konzerthaus seeks to confront the diversity of the cultural and social reality
of this city, and this country, with artistic equivalents”, and the musical
program did not disappoint.
Naske, who also serves as the institution’s
artistic director, dished up a lineup that spanned genres and styles with gay
abandon. The performance action began on Saturday, in the majestic 1,800
capacity Grosse Saal hall, with Aribert Reimann’s stirring prologue to
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with the 100-plus member choir do the work justice
as well as suitably setting the scene for the symphonic work. Young Venezuelan
conductor Gustavo Dudamel gave the voluminous composition a robust
The main Sunday concert program featured a solo classical piano
rendition, by Oleg Maisenberg, of Tchaikovsky’s Meditation Op. 72 No. 5,
Scriabin’s Waltz Op. 38 and Debussy’s Feux d’artifice. All three works were
delivered with a light romantic touch.
The stylistic domain was stretched
almost to snapping point at the Hugo Wolf Quartet concert, in the Schubert Hall,
with the foursome presenting a highly varied offering of a work by contemporary
Austrian composer Otto M. Zykan, an intriguing reading of a composition by
Canadian-born British jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and closed with a fun
performance of Antonio Jobim’s ever popular “The Girl from Ipanema.”
individual concerts were confined to 20 minutes slots, which kept things
succinctly to the entertainment point, while also allowing the members of the
audiences to get to their show of choice while enjoying a few minutes of the
interim musical entertainment taking place in the lobby.
enjoyed the largely bluesy offthe- cuff romp by saxophonist Wofgang Puschnig and
Wofgang Muthspiel, while balafon (African xylophone) player Mamadou Diabate and
percussionist Karim Sanou added some welcome African colors and textures, not to
mentioned bonhomie, to the proceedings. Later in the Grosse Saal Wolfgang
Mitterer blew his audience away with some organ pyrotechnics.
ago the Konzerthaus hosted a festival devoted exclusively to Israeli and Jewish
music. As the then director Bernhard Keres pointed out at the time, in view of
the Jewish contribution to Vienna’s musical and artistic heritage, the cultural
theme of choice was only natural. With jazz bassist Avishai Cohen performing at
the Konzerthaus last Monday, and stellar Israeli klezmer clarinet player Giora
Feidman due to play there in the coming weeks, the venerable Viennese concert
venue is clearly staying loyal to that Jewish artistic heritage.