22 October 2018


This is one we’d done before: Kammermusik im Foyer at the Oper Frankfurt. It’s close to where we are staying and at 11am on a Sunday, clashes with little. It’s also indicative of how I find the Germans. Hugely impressive on matters of substance while very laid back on the formalities. So, the foyer is comfortable enough, but just a space. The Steinway off to the side was nicely covered but the stool was metal, functional. The performers were a string quartet, Hindemith Quartet, and the program was classical to modern: Haydn, Shostakovich, Schnittke, Borodin, three string quartets and a canon dedicated to Stravinski. There was an encore of one movement from a Tchaikovsky quartet. If I read my German right, the members were from the Oper’s orchestra, the concert master and various principals. The presentation was simple but friendly, even joyous after the successful outing. They were recording (video and mics down the back). But what a capable performance. These were modern instruments so the tone was strong and edgy and loud. The playing matched, confident, firm, intentioned, and wonderfully balanced in roles. Thee were some occasional glances and some smiles at start and end of movements but surprisingly few other than from the cellist. He seemed to be enjoying himself; the others seemed more business-like. The playing seemed easy and inured, but then a line would come from cello or viola, all quick and of wonderful clarity and the expertise slapped you in the face. Germans and their government pay generously for this and it shows. Half the opera houses in the world are in Germany and they maintain a generous musical establishment and I was to find a reference to government funding at the jazz club I attended that night. So to my ears this was exemplary. We went off into the … afternoon … with a big smile. Great stuff.

The Hindemith Quartet performed at Alte Oper, Frankfurt. They comprised Ingo de Haas and Joachim Ulbrich (violins), Thomas Rossel (viola) and Daniel Robert Graf (cello).

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