European Culture: From Adiemus to Blue Spanish (Satis Shroff)
This year’s Christmas Concert in Kappel’s Festhalle began at 8pm with a song from Spain sung by the MGV-Kappel with the title ‘A la nanita nana,’ with Johannes Söllner as its conductor, a serious-looking young man with a bald head, and a goatee, but with an elegant gait. The way he sways his torso and extremities, you’d think a panther is about to pounce you. Johannes is a perfectionist and he has the talent to coax out the best performance from his singers of the men’s choir from Kappel. Every song bears its characteristic lilts, sudden burst of energy in the form of loud men’s voices that peter away. Ah, it’s a delight to watch this dynamic conductor lead his charges to new heights and it’s an honour and a pleasure to sing under his baton.
Next came a song from neighbouring France but in the German version with the title: ‘Hört der Engel Jubellieder.’ It begins slowly but I love the part when you have to sing ‘Gloria’ in excelcis deo..’ You do hear angels sing.
We went back to the 16th century and sang ‘Gaudete’ with much pomp and gusto. Söllner calls it ‘mit schmackes!’ That was our share of spiritual songs for the evening.
We went to the Heimat chest and fished out a German folksong ‘Nun Ade, du mein lieb Heimatland’ about a son who remembers his beloved country while travelling to foreign shores. The Heimat laughs benignly with its azure sky and greets the traveller with its meadows and fields. God knows, my heart is always with, sings the wandering son, but he has to go afar to seek his fortune.
The fifth song was another volkslied, as a folksong is called in German, penned by Friedrich Silcher: ‘Durch’s Wiesental gang I jetzt na,’ a long song with a sad ending sung in a light style with a heavy refrain: I have no treasure anymore. The treasure implied is the lover who doesn’t seem to be in his grave because he wasn’t true in his love towards her. The roses and the carnation have to wilt away like my love, she says, for I have my Schätzele no more.
Then came a jolly song about plantation workers from Jamaica: the Banana Boat song made popular by Harry Belafonte. Johannes Söllner sang the lead part and the labourers of the banana plantation were the men of the MGV-Kappel. The song was sun with the usual swing and a good piano beat. The song came to an end and suddenly the choir members had Bio-bananas in their hands as a gag. The audience raved and loved it.
The ‘Day-O’ song was followed by a love-song about a Mexican beauty and her ‘Blue Spanish Eyes’ sung by Satis Shroff with the Kappeler men’s choir singing the chorus. This brought the house down. The people love schmaltz and quite a lot of elderly Germans could remember the hit from the sixties composed by Bert Kämpfert and made famous by Al Martino.
The evening of international songs was ended with Karl Jenkin’s ‘Adiemus.’ An encore ensued with a song from Israel: ‘Hine ma Tov,’ with lovely, manly Hebrew intonation. The moderation of the men’s choir ‘Liederkranz’ was performed by Johannes Söllner, who established himself as an animator and made the audience answer his quiz and pranced and hopped around on the stage. The audience was putty in his hands.
Since karin Peters was busy with her family affairs, a moderator of the South-West 4 did her job and received a lot of appreciation for his im promptu interpretations and announcements. The Musikverein began with ‘A Celtic Christmas’ with music by James L.Hosay and the conductor was Manfred Preiss, a thick-set man with a bald head, who has been conducting the Musicverein Kappel orchestra since over 30 years. Noah Schroeder’s rendering of ‘alla Milanese, Siciliano, Rondo Veneziano on his fagott was a treat for one’s ears with music by Kees Vlak, accompanied by the brass-orchestra. Other notable numbers were: ‘The Bremen Town Musicians (Hayato Hirose), the Images of a City (Francesco Sessini, Op.42) and the New York Overture (Kees Vlak). The last piece was one with feeling: percussions, clarinets, flutes reaching a crescendo only to melt away in recurring waves. Samba rhythm in the first half, followed German brass in a slow tempo mingled with bells chiming, a trumpet solo reminiscent of Milies Davis, a foxtrott played on the clarinet and the evening vanished like stardust on a dark Schwarzwald sky.