With Schubert’s sensitive song “An die Musik” and Mendelssohn’s furious string octet, this year’s chamber festival ended on Sunday in Moritzburg near Dresden. With a flexible concept, the team around cellist Jan Vogler has managed to offer an impressive series of high-level concerts, even in the difficult year 2021.

With Schubert’s sensitive song “An die Musik” and Mendelssohn’s furious string octet, this year’s chamber festival ended on Sunday in Moritzburg near Dresden. With a flexible concept, the team around cellist Jan Vogler has managed to offer an impressive series of high-level concerts, even in the difficult year 2021.

Inspired chamber music as an expression of intelligent entertainment between accomplished instrumentalists from all over the world in order to build a discerning audience was the main concern of the 29th year since the inception of the festival. From Mozart to Schönberg, from Schubert to Shostakovich, from the solo sonata to the string trio to the piano quintet – almost all concerts have taken place outdoors on the north terrace of Moritzburg Palace. Only four, including yesterday’s final, were transferred to the church due to weather conditions, so there wasn’t a single cancellation. 6000 visitors, all full events: a real superlative.

Another highlight was the orchestral concert “Moritzburg for Everyone”: on Saturday the festival also made an appearance in the Kulturpalast in Dresden. Maestro Josep Caballé Domenech led very talented young musicians from 16 nations, 24 women and 17 men, who had been selected by a jury from over 750 applicants. The huge demand is testament to the great reputation of the summer academy founded by violinist Mira Wang in 2006 to promote young talent. The result was once again fascinating. The concert instilled a freshness and soul that you don’t hear every day in professional orchestras. Such an ensemble lives from the meeting of temperaments, intensive repetitions and the joy and passion of all. Strings, winds, timpani, percussionist and pianist followed the intentions of the Catalan conductor, whose mixture of precise speech and catchy energy bore excellent fruits.

We first hear the opening of the opera “Happy Slaves”, which the Basque Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga composed in 1819 at the age of thirteen. The composer, celebrated as the “Spanish Mozart”, died of tuberculosis in 1826, at just twenty years old. Beethoven was in his early thirties and in a creative frenzy when he wrote his orchestral work in C major “for three concert voices”, the Triple Concerto, which was here in the hands of three solid soloists. Festival father Jan Vogler on cello was flanked by violinist Kevin Zhu and on grand piano by Juha Pohjonen. The allegro of the opulent first movement resembled a mass of intricately woven dialogues between soloists and orchestra. Power combined with finesse and sensitivity have also shaped the slim Largo. In the final Rondo alla Polacca, the actors showed that catchy melodies give way to virtuosity. Huge applause here and later for Zwickau native Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, premiered in 1846, with enchanting vocals between oboe and bassoon in the adagio and an extremely lively finale.

With Schumann, one of the most sparkling chamber concerts of these eventful two weeks had also started. After sunset, on the terrace of Moritzburg Palace, pianist Wu Qian, cellist Bruno Philippe and violinist Kai Vogler devoted themselves to the piano trio in F major of the Romantic Saxon, premiered in Leipzig in 1850 with Clara Schumann at the piano. That August evening ended with a memorable performance by Brahms, whose 1861 G minor piano quintet contained a hidden declaration of love for the now widowed Clara. Pianist Louis Lortie and violinist Mira Wang, cellist Christian Poltéra and violist Matthew Lipman, musicians from three different continents, set off a magnificent fireworks display. The Moritzburg Festival remains an essential address on the European musical calendar.