Tuesday, 10 October 2017


City of spires: Lübeck's Holstein Gate,
flanked by Petrikirche and Lübeck Cathedral.
Memmling's grand altarpiece

DAY 7: Friday (25 August 2017)

Finally got to Lübeck after a three-hour train ride, with a change in Kiel. On my bucket-list was the St Anne Quarter Museum with its priceless collection of altar pieces, and pride of place goes to the Hans Memmling painted altar piece which needs to be seen to be believed. Its attention to detail rivals the best there is in the world of art, and anyone who marvels at intricately designed piano recitals would find some parallels here. Also went for a spot of hof-hopping, traipsing into some of Lübeck’s famous courtyards. As before, there is no time for lunch, and before long its another three hours back to Husum.

Fuchtingshof and two other courtyards
off the Engelsgrube.

Recital 8 (7.30 pm)

I was initially sceptical whether Fauré’s Requiem would translate well as a piano work, but French-Bulgarian pianist Emile Naoumoff’s own transcription would prove me quite wrong. While the voices are gone, the music is retained but Naoumoff’s orchestral conception of the work as a whole is stunning because he applies the widest possible dynamics in the playing. 

I must admit not missing the voices, not even the soprano’s in Pie Jesu or the baritone’s in Libera Me, and gained a new appreciation of the music, not least in the angels’ flitting about in the final In Paradisum. The addition of Lili Boulanger’s Theme et Variations and Nadia Boulanger’s Vers la vie nouvelle (Towards a New Life) provided an echo with similar aesthetics to the preceding wonders.  

Gabriel Dupont’s Les Heures Dolentes (The Painful Hours) is a true rarity, comprising 14 short pieces with descriptive French titles. These sounded rather beautiful in isolation, but when heard as a full suite, proved a long stretch, more like a doleful hour. Naoumoff’s sensitive touch in the most slow and quiet pieces proved a blessing, and the audience was transfixed. 

There was an exception in two young girls who walked in and out of the Rittersaal – repeatedly - oblivious to the service taking place, noisily opening and closing as they came and went. What was their feckless Asian mother thinking bringing them to such a piano recital?  Were they expecting Lang Lang? 

There was a built-in encore in Naoumoff’s own Theme and 30 Variations on Bulgaria 1300, a heroic and blustery work based on film music which he wrote in celebration of his home country. A suitably noisy end to a programme of music of the more spiritual kind.

Bertrand Boissard, Lu Lei & Satoru Takaku
demonstrating the wideness of
Emile Naoumoff's dynamic range.

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