Thursday, December 24, 2015

24 December 2015

The stockings are hung by the chimney, the gifts are all wrapped and the sun is setting already on this spring-like Christmas Eve in Berlin. The weather has been so lovely this month, it is more like April than December. I'm wondering if the southern hemisphere is also experiencing such crazy aberrances in the seasons. Santa will be putting some roller blades on his sleigh tonight!

We will have our Christmas celebration this evening - our small family here in Berlin - and, via Skype, those in New York, too. The wonder of internet certainly has made contact over the miles so much easier. I am thankful for that. We will take time out from our otherwise constant state of "hurriedness" and "business" to enjoy the day, the year and each other before we all bustle off to our next duties. These times are so rare and so special.

Speaking of which, this message will also serve as my New Year's wishes to you all, since I will be spending the next two weeks on tour. I'll be entertaining  Chinese audiences with Beethoven 8 and other classics instead of concerning myself with ways to serve leftover turkey. (There is never any leftover stuffing, is there?) My holiday dinner will be whatever the airline serves. . . . hmmmmm.

No matter how you are spending this weekend - celebrating Christmas or otherwise - I send warmest greetings from our house to yours and wishes for a peacful, healthy and creative New Year.

I will leave this year with one last musical offering. The third symphony of Camille Saint-Saens is not particularly Christmas music, but does still have all the ingredients for being such. On top of a full orchestra there is also piano 4-hands and organ contributing to the joyous noise. Here is a recording of the last movement (actually the whole symphony is worth a listen, too)
And, here is another link solely from the perspective of the organist   An audience rarely gets to appreciate the fact that the organ console is somewhere other than in the midst of the orchestra. The organist seldom has eye contact with the conductor and has to rely on other tricks to stay synchronized. . . in this case, he has a video camera and one can see how he counts! Fascinating.

"Music gives a soul to the universe,
wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination
and life to everything."


Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Now that Advent is upon us, the first snowflakes have fallen and my first Christmas market is history, I have dug out my musical favorite for the season. As soon as I hear drums and trumpets announcing the first measures of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, I know that the holiday season is officially opened. My own recording of all six cantatas is a rather old rendition by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, but for simplicity's sake, I have chosen a newer rendition that is a bit leaner   It is interesting to hear how our ideas of musical interpretation have changed over the  years. (Don't worry, I won't get into the music theory of it all!) Do have a listen and enjoy Bach's masterpiece. No matter which interpretation, it is a timeless treasure.

Here are also a few impressions of last weekend's Advent market at the Liebenberg castle.


 It was a good weekend  - for the visitors and vendors, too.  This coming Sunday, I'll be standing outdoors at another market here in Berlin (Mexikoplatz). It can be a chilly event, but, having grown up in New York State, I learned the benefits of heavy boots and long underwear at an early age. And I do enjoy the interaction with all the visitors, customers and friends at these markets.

I send my wishes to all for a joyous and blessed Advent.