Tuesday, 10 October 2017


DAY 4: Tuesday (22 August 2017)

The ancient viking settlement of Haithabu (now in Hedeby) gets a visit. One of the most scenic ways is to take the Heim boat from Schleswig's little harbour and a pleasant 20-minute walk through the woods, on ancient earth-mound ramparts, and past grazing cattle. The “village” is now “occupied” by unshaven men in viking outfits, their wives making jewellery, and children busily baking biscuits. There are no horned headwear in sight. Also visited was the Holm, the old fishing village on the opposite side of the Schlei fjord, with its quaint houses and double-doors.

Recital 5 (7.30 pm)

In her third visit to Husum, the elegant Bulgarian who now resides in New York has also heartily embraced the Husum philosophy. She opened with three movements from Godowsky's Renaissance Suite, and in the case of the wonderful Elegie, she played the original Rameau Gigue before the same melody is slowed down in a quite remarkable transformation. 

I cannot claim to be enamoured of Robert Volkmann's busy Fantasie, which eventually putters off quietly, but am ever receptive to whatever Vladimir Drozdow and Sergei Bortkiewicz have to offer. Both are Russian contemporaries of Rach, Scriab and Medt, and their music carries their harmonic imprimatur that we associate as Russian and East European.

The Droz pieces are charming little miniatures, including a somewhat clumsy transcription of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Trepak (not a sniff near Pletnev), but the Sonata Lacrimosa is a wonderful essay out of the Medt copybook. I certain hope the highly sympathetic Vlaeva records them. She had already done the honours for Bortkiewicz's Schumanesque Fantasiestücke for the Hyperion label, and her playing makes me want to hear that CD again. This is the Rach you haven't heard before. 

From her homeland comes Pantcho Vladigerov's Spanish-accented Nocturne-Serenade and Toccata, the latter filled with earthy folk rhythms and drumming, and a hint of boogie woogie towards its spectacular end.

Vlaeva's six encores could constitute a half-recital on their own. In tribute to festival director Peter Froundjian's Armenian heritage, she offered a bitterweet waltz by Babadjanian (himself soon to lose rarity status), and then two more Bortkiewicz miniatures. Deodat de Severac's Music Box, a dance by Argentine Carlos Guastavino and Alfred Grünfeld's transcription of the Die Fledermaus Waltz complete a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  

Post concert at the Husumer Brauhaus:
Satoru Takaku with Daniel Berman,
Nadejda Vlaeva with Peter Froundjian.

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