I am in beautiful Dresden – birthplace of the toothpaste – for the annual three-week Music Festival that has taken place since 1978. After Kristian Bezuidenhout’s very attractive Mozart recital on my first night here, I was headed for another concert that had all the makings of an absolute highlight: an all Bach recital on the historic Silbermann organ in Dresden’s Katholische Hofkirche, the Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony that the catholic ruler had built, to achieve ecclesiastic balance as the protestant townspeople put their efforts into building the Frauenkirche.
I’m highly susceptible to all-Bach in a church, and when I heard Pieter van Dijk in the Oslo Cathedral earlier this year, it was all quiet ecstasy and elation. With the historic instrument in the back and the church’s white walls cast in the evening sun’s friendly warm light, the ears were perked and the tear ducts prepared. What a shame then that Martin Haselböck’s recital merited only tears of anguish, and perhaps worry for the instrument1. Haphazard and inept, the program seemed like an hour-long meditation on the sufferings of innocent Johann Sebastian Bach, played at speeds considerably faster than Haselböck’s fingers, and with the music well ahead of the rhythm throughout.
J.S.Bach, Organ Works,
performed on Silbermann Organs
Gottfried Silbermann died 259 years ago whilst working on his organ at the Hofkirche. In a way he was dying all over again, last night.
1 That particular worry proved unfounded; the next day the church’s regular organist produced a beautiful mid-day recital of Bach & beyond, open to all.