Ensemble renders masterpieces of Beethoven, Gieseking

Published October 25, 2023
The German Ensemble 4.1 performs at a classical music concert in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
The German Ensemble 4.1 performs at a classical music concert in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The German embassy, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Pakistan, hosted a captivating German classical musical concert featuring the renowned Ensemble 4.1 on Tuesday.

German Ambassador Alfred Grannas welcomed the audience, saying, “It is a very particular pleasure for us to present to you the Ensemble 4.1, a unique piano windtet. This ensemble of a piano and four wind instruments is unique – it does not exist anywhere else.”

He said Ensemble 4.1 was founded a decade ago following an invitation from the then director of the Goethe-Institut Karachi, which served as the catalyst for its formation. Over the years, the ensemble has achieved remarkable milestones. In celebration of their 10th anniversary, the ensemble has graced some of the world’s most iconic venues, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Wigmore Hall in London, and Carnegie Hall in New York. As a tribute to their beginnings, Ensemble 4.1 has returned to Pakistan, where their journey started in Karachi.

The ensemble that came together at the behest of the Karachi Goethe-Institut consists of acclaimed German musicians Jorg Schneider, Alexander Glucksmann, Christoph Knitt, Sebastian Posch and Thomas Hoppe.

The ensemble showcased Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Quintett Es-Dur op.16’ and Walter Gieseking’s ‘Quintett B-Dur’ – masterpieces by the two composers.

Alexander Glucksmann introduced the pieces, saying, “Thank you Mr. Ambassador for the introduction. As you all know, this is our birthday tour.”

He shared that after the first concert in Karachi, they had played some 150 concerts and then returned to the city where they got their start.

With unmistakable parallels with Mozart’s corresponding Quintet K. 452, the performance drew resounding applause as the extended slow introduction segued into an invigorating allegro followed by the andante cantabile where each instrument shone both individually and as part of the ensemble.

Walter Gieseking, who is better known as a masterful pianist than as a composer, outdid himself with the Quintett B-Dur. The piece gave each of the performers space for solo depth while also creating an extraordinary balance as the sounds blended together.

Thomas Hoppe, who is considered one of the finest pianists of his generation, said: “The original tour was the first for us; it was the formative tour. We came together 10 years ago and became really close friends. Now coming to the country where we formed is very special. If anything this was much more fun than the original tour. Pakistan is not the most touristy country, if I may say so, so the chances to come to Pakistan are far and few, so we were particularly happy to be invited back. It was a real privilege and an honour to be here.”

Asma Asghar said: “It is a delight to hear performers of this calibre in Pakistan and I have enjoyed myself thoroughly. One of the best things about being in the capital is having access to the international talent that embassies invite.”

The members of the Ensemble have won numerous international accolades. Jorg Schneider, the principal oboe of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, has won international chamber music competitions in Osaka, Marseille and Schwerin, as well as a scholarship from the German Music Competition.

Alexander Glucksmann, the principal clarinet of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, has displayed his artistry at the Opera Barga chamber music festival in Italy alongside members of the Berlin Philharmonic. He is also recognised for his work on contemporary music projects with the Chamber Ensemble Quillo.

Christoph Knitt, the principal bassoon at the Potsdam Chamber Academy since 2006, has been actively involved in cultural reconstruction efforts in Iraq in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut since 2009.

Sebastian Posch, a distinguished horn player, secured third prize at the international horn competition in Stams/Austria in 1999. His impressive solo performances span prestigious orchestras, including the Frankfurt/Oder State Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Altenburg-Gera Theater, the Young Symphony Berlin, the Berlin Chamber Academy and the Göttinger Symphoniker.

Thomas Hoppe imparts his expertise through masterclasses in piano accompaniment and chamber music across Europe, Australia, China, South America and the US.

Tayyaba Arshi, who was accompanied by her 10-year-old nephew, said: “Such events should happen in Pakistan in these critical times. We need such music and I’m feeling refreshed after this performance.”

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2023

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