26 young musicians and their nineteen-year-old conductor Jens Albrecht
from Potsdam have fulfilled their dream of launching a full symphony
orchestra complete with strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion,
playing for persons in their "third stage" of life, after
whom the Tertianum is named. They gave overwhelming proof not only
that that classical music in Germany is alive and well, but that
a new generation of exceptionally talented young musicians is already
waiting in the wings.
young artists have organised the entire project on their own, set
up a homepage, founded an association of supporters, and they have
held intensive rehearsals on three weekends in a Berlin school to
prepare for this debut, giving delight to senior citizens with their
first two concerts - everything without the slightest remuneration.
Yet with every concert they will grow into their role as performers,
face up to the public and the critics and enrich their curriculum
with noteworthy events - all these advantages are priceless!
start the programme, they wisely selected a work from the French
repertoire that perfectly lent itself to some vivid, crystal-clear
conducting with its key of C major, its time-tested modulations
and gradual intensification toward the end. Moreover, Étienne-Nicolas
Méhul's overture to his opera "Joseph in Egypt"
is an exquisite rarity in German concert halls. Those who know the
classical portraits of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David can imagine
the well-balanced, simple and elegant form of Méhul's compositions.
Had the conductor worn a laurel wreath while conducting this piece,
he would have captured the spirit of the era quite well.
It was remarkable that only 13 string players were able to counterbalance
the mighty wind section and thus to achieve the orchestra's well-rounded
a splendid conclusion, Jens Albrecht had chosen Ludwig van Beethoven's
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, the "Eroica", whose original
dedication contained the words, in Italian, "to celebrate the
memory of a great man." Resolutely and briskly like a general,
he led his forces through the Allegro con brio with a powerful volume
that no one would have expected from only 26 performers. He skilfully
avoided any tragic pathos during the funeral march and shaped the
scherzo with a delicate, almost transparent texture that contrasted
beautifully with the warm, luminous horn calls. Listeners who have
worked with strings in the past would have been most impressed by
the precision of the pizzicato in the final movement - but much
more so by the heroic struggle with the fugato-variations on the
Prometheus-theme, during which the team was thinned out at times
to the point where the parts were assigned to soloists. Throughout
to be admired was the accomplished performance by the concertmaster
Gabriel Uhde and the cellist Majella Münz.
final applause left visitors time for many minutes of musings
about these superbly trained, idealistic young musicians. The
present event was actually the anticipation of a dream, the dream
of one day belonging to a respectable professional orchestra -
despite merciless international competition and ever shrinking
subsidies. The alternative would be to join the thousands of pickup
musicians - one rehearsal, one performance - of the kind that
served Beethoven and that presently offer their services to church
musicians every weekend for their cantatas and oratorios. No doubt
Jens Albrecht has what it takes to become a successful director
of orchestras, for he is quite capable of creating all the prerequisites,
as during the founding of the Youth Chamber Academy. It was evident
that all his thoughts revolved around his music and his musicians;
in a chivalrous gesture, he even passed on the bouquet of flowers
he had received from the house to the youngest member of the orchestra,
a fourteen-year-old girl in the second violins.
icing on the cake, that the young artists might delight their
enthusiastic audience with an elegant and elaborate ceremonial
of bows and encores, was absent - but no one took it amiss that
the conductor remained on the podium with a dreamy look into the
distance until the applause had subsided. Whether purists look
at encores like a kind of distracting dessert that can only spoil
the aftertaste of the main course, or whether the time was just
lacking to prepare a good encore, we do not know. But we can calculate
what the same concert, consummately performed, will cost when
it is performed after graduation by young professionals who pay
their taxes and social contributions. At any rate, the grateful
listeners at the Tertianum Residence gave a donation of 237 euro
to the orchestra. This debut can be considered a complete success
and a generous gift - on both sides.