(Grafik: parole)

»Catch oysters, ducats
However you shall die!
Then the maggots will feast
And the heirs laugh«

...wrote Joseph von Eichendorff in 1841 under the title »Memento mori«, full of Romantic maliciousness. But behind these verses lies just as much the understanding that money and material goods are not everything in life. That there are more important things which can enrich people.In 2016 the Musikfest Stuttgart is exploring the many varieties of  »riches«.

Wandelkonzerte zum Wein (Foto hs)
Wandelkonzerte zum Wein (Foto hs)

In the Promenade Concerts with wine, there are regional riches in Uhlbach: as well as outstanding wine from the region, the sounds of romantic guitar music and Wilhelm Hauff’s Phantasien im Bremer Ratskeller (»Eine Herbstgeschichte für Freunde des Weins«) seduce audiences into the atmosphere of a horror story in the vaulted cellar of the wine presses. In the Andreaskirche, a vocal ensemble with drinking and folk songs awaits listeners, whilst the Oriental Jazz Ensemble FisFüz adds some seasoning with exotic sounds in the Wine Museum.

Regional riches are also found in the music of the »Mannheim School«. This turned the musical avantgarde of Mozart’s day upside down and almost tempted the young Salzburger to stay in the locality. The Mannheim Mozart Orchestra and Reinhard Goebel devote a thrilling programme to this historic enrichment of one of the greatest geniuses in the history of music.

Mercedes-Benz Museum (Foto hs)
Mercedes-Benz Museum (Foto hs)

Tailor-made for the inventive capabilities found in the Stuttgart region are the unusual formats of the Musikfest series »Unternehmen Musik«, now in its second year for the 2016 festival. In the inner courtyard of publisher Klett-Verlag, the Terem Quartet presents Russian Bach sounds, and in the Mercedes-Benz Museum the Gershwin Piano Quartet revives the old 19th century partnership between William Steinway and Gottlieb Daimler on four Steinway grand pianos, playing the music of Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Gershwin. And the magnificent Keller Quartett creates a link between the old and the new with an innovative programme in the auditorium of Alfred Kärcher GmbH, which is absolutely right for the host business.

Hans-Christoph Rademann (Foto hs)
Hans-Christoph Rademann (Foto hs)

In the Baroque era, Venice, La Serenissima, was quite simply synonymous with riches, not only as a flourishing mercantile republic, but also as a place for opulent vocal music. Claudio Monteverdi’s »Vespers of the Blessed Virgin« is the embodiment of this rich spatial sound and opens this year’s Musikfest.

A change of perspective: the idea of a heavenly kingdom, which is expressed in Anton Bruckner’s 9th Symphony (»dem lieben Gott gewidmet«) and in Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo cantata »Ich habe genug«, also runs through the individual Bach cantatas in the midday »Sichten auf Bach« series.

The dark side of riches also features in the Musikfest. In the 1920s a »new objectivity« took the biting contrast between rich and poor as its theme, expressed in sharp irony, vivid clarity and dry humour. This was a politicised art which Tora Augestad and her group »Music for a while« now bring to the stage of the Theatre in virtuoso fashion.

The conclusion of the festival is marked by George Frideric Handel’s oratorio »L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato«. As in the Enlightenment frame of mind, this work poses questions about the right balances in life. Between the poles of mirth and melancholy the work argues for the middle way (Il Moderato) – and with this, places the individual at the centre at the culmination of the Musikfest: the greatest riches lie simply in human nature.

[Henning Bey]