In connection with the Heidelberger Frühling (Heidelberg Spring), an internationally renowned festival of chamber music currently headed by Igor Levit, Jonathan Powell performed Kaikhosru Sorabji’s Sequentia Cyclica, this powerful work based on the Dies Irae tune, in a total of five concerts taking place on 1 to 3 April. 

The concerts, which took place in the historic Alte Aula of Heidelberg University, were well-attended and enthusiastically received by the audience, only few of whom had ever heard of Sorabji at all. The eight-hour work is very demanding in every respect, both to the performer and the audience, and also to the page-turner, who caused some additional difficulties to Jonathan in one or another place, particularly in the final quintuple fugue. It remained a particularly striking event which left the audience breathless.

Watch some of the questions Igor Levit put to Jonathan Powell (pictured above and below).

At the Cologne Philharmonic, a rare performance of Gustav Holst’s Cloud Messenger took place on 22 May. The work, performed by the Rodenkirchener KammerChor and the Oratorienchor Köln, proved that the work is well-paced and not at all over-long, as some renowned British scholars judged from the score or the sole CD recording of the work. The commitment of all performers at Cologne (only marred by the wrong organ) would have merited a recording or even broadcast, and certainly merits further performances in other places.

Some Vaughan Williams events have taken place in Germany over the year, not least starting in 2021; one such event was now released on CD, the Sea Symphony and the choral version of the Serenade to Music, performed by the MDR-Rundfunkchor and the MDR-Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in June 2021 and May 2022 respectively. Press coverage of the event was included in the November issue of Fono Forum, the German-language equivalent of BBC Music Magazine or Gramophone, providing a substantial article by the present author.

Written by Dr. Jürgen Schaarwächter