This idea came to me – consciously, at least – not long ago, one stormy and pitch-dark evening while practising in a church for next-day’s big concert featuring Gesualdo Consort in Leer/East Frisia. Huge rain drops whipping the streets of this otherwise cosy nordic German town made an almost deafening noise and it was cold outside – not at all an unsuitable atmosphere to practice my Sweelinck. The solid, spacious church was friendly enough with just a few indecisive ghosts wandering around, I felt fine. Only my first „date“ with the instrument did not go the way I hoped. This harpsichord would not always do what I wanted, not immediately, or not the way I expected, leaving me a bit worried and tense. At that moment I remember thinking „it’s like a much older boyfriend with rusty habbits a half-open heart“ and that made me sad. Soon my mind became full of the pictures of some other significant harpsichords from my history, and they were a merry gathering wearing their human masks, as if they thought that was fun. And because music making and love making are so much alike – AND because one cannot approach a harpsichord properly except with tenderness, and because… because… who doesn’t “humanize” their instruments anyway? – I realized that seing harpsichords as lovers is one of the most natural things in the world. And if not a lover, then a friend – or an enemy, or a cold bastard at worst. For sure, a harpsichord, for me, is always a „he“. And where there are many harpsichords, or lovers, they fall into categories. Here the inspiring kind, which brings to light some hidden sparkling jewels in the music you’ve been playing for weeks, months or years, here’s the comforting kind which replies with grace to your imperfections, here’s the trustworthy kind you can rely on because it never changes, and here’s “the perfect lover”. Mine is the Neuchatel-Ruckers (1623/1745) who carried me on his golden arms to places I did not know before, leaving me completely changed, reborn! There’s also, of course, the reliable trophy „husband“ at home (like my double-manual French after Hemsch). Then there’s also the deceiving kind, the one which completely changes (in the concert), after he promised you not to (during the rehearsal), or the unsetteled, whiny wimp who needs constant tuning, adjusting, permanent assistance for a poor result in return and at last, there’s “the enemy”, the rude kind who declares war the very moment you lay your fingers on. Many of those leaving you with a bitter taste and the wish never to see them again.
The harpsichord from Leer proved itself to be an intriguing and consistent companion after all. During the concert he stayed with me and even allowed me here and then to sense his beating heart under my hands. Soon I’ll be seeing him again. I expect he will need to be reconquered from scratch but I’ll glady try.
She only said, “The night is dreary,
He cometh not,” she said;
She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead.”
recorded in my music room in Berlin, yesterday afternoon. Enjoy!
Last weekend I had the pleasure to meet “the best lutenist of all times” – (I know he’s blushing now for real) the way he is called by many, including myself. People are careless with such superlatives (or maybe just brave?) so that is why I try not to use them but the truth is, I really think that…well…! I do! What to do about that? Jacob Heringman’s musicianship is such a sensitive, honest, wise and technically brilliant one, that I simply feel helpless trying to describe it.
The first time I got to know his playing must be about two years ago when I was visiting friends, together with Jonas, having dinner in their kitchen. Our friends – lute maker Marcus Wesche together with his life partner, poet and playwright Schirin Nowrousian – were feeding us not only delicious Indian food but also different musical bites (predominantly lute recordings) from their huge collection, played on the little stereo on the shelf. After a while I lost track among all these recordings: good, bad, funny, boring… but at some point I noticed that the music was “extracting” me from the actual time and space with its long but tender arms. I could “escape” briefly now and then, only to find myself back in its warm and chrystal-clear waters again before I knew it. Then I remember saying: “This is the most beautiful lute playing I have heard in my life” and everyone at the table was nodding. And then I heard the name Jacob Heringman for the first time.
To make a long story short, last weekend Jacob and I finally met and started playing together. What should I say, well, I think that is actually what music is about. Meeting Jacob has definitely closed some doors for good.
We had two days to work on our “Mr. Dowland’s Midnight” project together. This project is now ready. During our rehearsals we shot some videos, here they are: Sir Henry Umptons Funerall, Mr. Dowland’s Midnight and My Lord Willoughby’s Welcome Home.
a few (of the very many) nice memories I’ll keep from Utrecht Oude Muziek Festival 2012:
© Jonas Niederstadt
I am happy to be featured also in a non Early-Music (or Classical) magazine. Thank you Christoph Kutzer for your wonderful words!
Also, a few days ago, my CD has been featured on WDR3. The review can be listened on demand here (German only).
I have included more press about “FROBERGER Suites & Toccatas” on the “Press” page. For updates feel free to check my tweets and my facebook fanpage.
Stay, O Sweet, and do not rise;
The light that shines comes from thine eyes;
The day breaks not, it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
Stay, or else my joys will die,
And perish in their infancy.
General rehearsal for “LEBENSBILDER” (“Lifetime Images”), Ensemble LUXURIANS, a music & poetry project feat. “Iris” by Albrecht Dürer, with works by Dowland, Sweelinck, Shakespeare, Donne and others.
Photos by Jonas Niederstadt.