Bachfest Leipzig: 2015

Bachfest Leipzig
“So glorious you stand, dear city”
12-21 June 2015

WP_20150612_16_47_43_ProThe festival motto reflects the fact that 2015 is the millennium of the first documentary record of Leipzig, when the Bishop of Merseburg mentioned the town of “urbe libzi” in his chronicle in 1015. The phrase So herrlich stehst du, liebe Stadt! is taken from Bach’s cantata Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn (BWV 119), written in 1723 in honour of the Leipzig city council, the ‘dear city’ clearly referring both to Jerusalem and Leipzig. It was performed by the Thomanerchor and the Händelfestspielorchester Halle at the opening concert of the festival (held, unusually, in the Nikolaikirche rather than the Thomaskirche, on 12 June, 5pm) where it followed Max Reger’s arrangement for organ of Bach’s Chromatische Fantasie und Fuge d-Moll, played by Stefan Kießling with commendable restraint.

Written within a few months of his arrival in Leipzig, Bach’s large scale Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn (one of many such ‘Ratswahl’ cantatas commissioned annual by the city council) is an impressive calling-card, with four trumpets making themselves heard throughout, alongside the distinctive sound of oboes da caccia and recorders. Tenor Patrick Grahl impressed, although the soprano soloist’s rather harsh tone and intonation problems were not so impressive. In contrast to the bombast of the earlier movements, the concluding choral was reflective.  The concert also included the première of the choral cantata Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott by Günter Neubert and Mendelssohn’s Wie WP_20150612_18_30_03_Proder Hirsch schreit nach frischem Wasser. This opening concert will be remembered for the presentation of the original 1748 Haussmann portrait of Bach, donated to the City of Leipzig from the estate of William Scheide. Scheide’s widow and daughter (who lived with the portrait from the age of 8) waved it goodbye before it moved to its new permanent home in the Leipzig Bach Museum.

In complete contrast, the later evening concert (in the Gewandhaus) featured Verdi’s Stabat mater and Te Deum and Rossini’s Stabat mater performed by the MDR Rundfunkchor and the Gewandhausorchester, under Michele Mariotti. As usual for the first weekend of the festival, the Bachfest took over Leipzig’s historic Markt, with live relays of the opening and other concert,s and live music under the banner of BACHmosphäre, on this occasion from the impressive Deutsch-Chinesische Chorakademie and, later, the Mendelssohn Kammerorchester Leipzig with Thing Helseth, trumpet.

Saturday 13 June

Saturday saw the first of six ‘Bach out and about’ events, day-trips to places of historical or WP_20150613_13_43_47_Promusical interest in the Leipzig region. Reflecting the millennium of the city theme, this started on the site of the oldest settlement and church of Leipzig, just to the south of the current city centre. The enormous 19th century neo-Gothic St. Peter’s church now occupies the site. Although there was a recital on the small organ currently used in the church, the main organ interest was in the sad remains of the once magnificent 1885 Sauer organ in the west gallery of the church, once acclaimed throughout Germany as a masterpiece. When St Peter’s was bombed in 1943, the organ, although still playable, was left exposed to the WP_20150613_13_34_06_Proelements until the pipework was removed to an organ-builders storage in 1949. Under the GDR government, the firm was nationalised, and all old material was destroyed, including all the pipework of the Sauer organ. All that survives is part of the case front, and the now exposed rear of the console – a sad sight. The church is now fundraising to build a new French romantic style organ in the old case. We then visited the ruins of the church in Wachau, by the same architect (the unfortunate Lipsius). This church didn’t even survive its first year (1867), as all four towers collapsed in a storm shortly after it was opened, and it has remained a ruin ever since. An open air concert by the Barocktrompeten Ensemble Berlin focussed on music from 18th century London, the attendant rain adding to the English theme.

An early evening organ recital in the Gewandhaus focussed on the influence of the Italian style on German composer, with pieces by Walther, Bach and Krebs (his Fantasia à gusto italiano), played by Michael Schönheit. We then moved to the Thomaskirche for the main WP_20150620_11_10_15_Proevening concert of four of Bach Leipzig Cantatas given by the Kölner Kammerchor and Collegium Cartusianum, conducted by their director, Peter Neumann, the recipient of the 2015 City of Leipzig Bach Medal. This started with another of the ‘Ratswahl’ cantatas (only 5 of the 27 composed survive). Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille (BWV 120), with its reference to eh ‘beloved city of lindens!’. Bach’s self borrowings are evident in this work, with music from his Köthen period influencing several movements, and the opening chorus later becoming Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum in the B minor Mass. Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben (BWV 109) is interesting in reflecting Bach’s practice of preparing performing parts, in this case mostly written out by a chorister but with Bach’s own addition of a part for a ‘corne de chasse’ (a ‘hunting horn’) to the opening and closing movements. Curiously, for some reason this was replaced by a cornett in this performance, producing a very different sound, particularly in the opening chorus when the corne de chasse should alternative with an oboe, perhaps reflecting the contrast in the text between “I believe … help my unbelief”. More borrowing from earlier works came with Wachet! betet! betet! wachet! (BWV 70), expanded from a Weimar cantata into the two-part structure typical of Leipzig cantatas. The dramatic opening chorus, with its distinctive trumpet fanfares was contrasted by the following alto aria Wenn kömmt der Tag, with its yearning cello obligato.  O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe (BWV 34) completed the evening. I was impressed by the two female soloists, Hanna Zumsande and Elvira Bill, although the tenor suffered from some very strained upper notes, and the bass voice wobbled too much for my tastes.

Sunday 14 June

Reflecting the breadth of programming of the Leipzig Bachfest, the Sunday morning concert (in the Gewandhaus) featured the music of Arvo Pärt (including La Sindone, Swan Song, Passacaglia, Darf ich, Fratres and Credo) together with Bach’s Violin concerto in a (BWV 1041), played beautifully by Anne Akiko Meyers. The MDR Rundfunkchor and Sinfonieorchester were directed by Kristjan Järvi. Arvo Pärt was present, and received an enormous ovation when he was eventually persuaded onto the stage. It was a very touching moment.

During the afternoon I took some time out from Bachfest events to hear an organ recital on the wonderful 1723 Zacharias Hildebrandt organ in Störmthall, a tiny village just south of WP_20150614_15_58_57_ProLeipzig. I gave a recital there myself during last year’s Bachfest, but it was lovely to hear Annette Herr play. She is the organist of the church, and therefore somebody who knows the organ better than anybody else. Her programme reflected the theme of the Bachfest, with music by composers linked with Leipzig, including Ammerbach, Kuhnau, Telemann, Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Reger and Karg-Elert. It shows the versatility of this small one-manual organ that such a wide repertoire worked so well. Her clearly articulated playing of the Bach Praeludium in e (here transposed down to D minor because of the mean-tone tuning of the organ) was exemplary.

The evening concert in the Nikolaikirche compared funeral works by Bach and Mozart, the latter represented by the Requiem and Ave verum corpus. Bach’s 1727 cantata Lass, Fürstin, WP_20150612_16_59_53_Prolass noch einen Strahl (BWV 198) has a particular historic resonance for Leipzig. It was commissioned for a memorial service for Christiane Eberhardine, wife of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, and something of hero in Protestant Leipzig because of her refusal to follow her husband’s political conversion to Catholicism in order to become King of Poland. As a result, she lived in semi-exile, the Elector not even attending her funeral. Although politics prevented such an occasion given by the City itself, Leipzig University had no such qualms. Given during the annual Leipzig Trade Fair, when visiting dignitaries were much in evidence, this was a substantial occasion. St Paul’s Church was decked out for the occasion with suitable memorial and mourning regalia and the organ was shrouded in black, and emblazoned with the motto Laudis sunt luctus instruments (‘The instruments of mourning are full of praise”). It is a fascinating work, not least for Bach’s choice of instrumentation with its wide range of subdued middle-register colours, including pairs of oboes d’amore, flutes, violas da gamba and lutes. The performers were the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner.

Monday 15 June

The second ‘Bach out and about’ trip was to the historic city of Merseburg, where the cathedral is also celebrating 1000 years since construction started. As well as the historic and architectural interest, the main purpose of the visit was to hear the famous 1855/66 WP_20150615_10_38_31_ProLadegast organ, housed in a sumptuous Baroque case dating from 1693. The earlier organ was a disaster from the start, and underwent several alterations over the years. Ladegast was originally asked to merely restore it, but ended up providing a completely new instrument (with four manuals and 81 stops) in the old case. The few original stops he retained in 1855 were replaced in 1866 by stops of his own. This remarkable instrument laid the foundations for the German romantic organ, with its solid and rich foundation sound and wide range of colourful solo registers, but few reeds compared to the equivalent French organs of the time. A nice Saxon touch is that the stop knob covers are in pink and white Meißen porcelain. The WP_20150615_11_53_04_Proorgan is forever associated with Liszt and Reubke. Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H was written for its inauguration, although it was not completed in time for the opening so his Fantasia and Fugue on the Choral “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” was substituted. Liszt’s student, Julius Reubke, premièred his own Sonata on the 94th Psalm on this WP_20150615_12_50_40_Proorgan in 1857. One curious feature retained from one of the earlier additions to the 1693 organ is that the Rückpositive division can be played from a separate keyboard, incorporated into the case at the lower choir gallery level, as well as from the main console. The cathedral organist, Michael Schönheit, gave a recital of Liszt and Bach, starting with the Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, followed by some of Liszt’s arrangement of Bach pieces, finishing with Weinen, Klagen Sorgen, Zagen before concluding his recital with Bach’s Passacaglia.

The main evening concert took place in the Altes Rathaus and featured examples of music performed in Zimmermann’s Kaffeehaus, now only represented by a plaque on a wall. The Leipziger Barockorchester opened with the Sinfonia in D (BWV 1045), with Bach playing around with little Italian style motifs that bustled along jovially.  In complete contrast came CPE Bach’s Concerto in E flat for harpsichord and strings, with excellent playing from soloist Jean-Christophe Dijoux. This was written just as CPE was beginning to set uWP_20150620_17_37_46_Prop on his own as a professional musician, and could well be one of his last Leipzig compositions. The Ouvertüre in D by Johann Bernhard Bach, a distant relative of JSB, was written in the style of Telemann. It was part of Bach’s Leipzig library and was performed during the Kaffeehaus concerts. Bach’s Triple Concerto (BWV 1044) followed, a piece built from pre-existing pieces. Konstanze Beyer, violin, Mathias Kiesling, flute, and Mechthild Winter, harpsichord, were the soloists. The evening ended with Fasch’s Concerto in D, like the opening work, scored for 3 trumpets. The Leipziger Barockorchester played with sensitivity, with excellent contributions from Luise Haugk, oboe and Mechthild Winter on continuo and solo harpsichord.

Tuesday 16 June

The third ‘Bach out and about’ took us on an organ crawl to Zschortau (1746 Scheibe) and Möckern (1766 Schweinefleisch), both organ-builders being designated organ builders to Leipzig University in the 18th century. Espen Melbø demonstrated the one manual Scheibe organ (his last, and only surviving instrument) with sets of variations by Böhm and an anonymous member of the Bach tribe, together with two pieces by JS Bach and a contemporary Norwegian composer.  Scheibe built two major Leipzig organs, both praised by Bach and both now destroyed, one during the war, the other demolished by the GDR government, along with its home in the University Church. Bach also tested the Zschortau, and was possibly responsible for the addition of four stops over and above the original contract, examples of Bach’s wish for ‘gravitas’ in organs. The Möckern organ is one of only two surviving from the colourfully-named Johann Schweinefleisch, although I doubt he would recognise it if he heard it now. No longer in its original home, it is currently in the church it found itself in in 1870, and is locally known as the ‘Mendelssohn’ organ on the rather slight assumption that Mendelssohn was invited to (but probably didn’t) test one of its earlier Romantic incarnations. Church organist Holm Vogel played Mendelssohn and Bach

The evening concert (in the Nikolaikirche) compared Latin church music by Bach and Zelenka. The former with his tiny Sanctus in D (BWV 238) and Messe in F (BWV 233), the latter with his Missa omnium Sanctorum (ZWV 21). The performers were the festival’s ensembles in residence, Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704, with their director Václav Luks. The Sanctus was over in a flash, but the parody Mass in F was of meatier fare, WP_20150614_19_43_54_Prowith fine solos from Hannah Morrison, Kamila Mazalová and Václav Čížek. The 16-strong choir were placed in a semi-circle around the orchestra, giving a nicely focussed sound to the ensemble. Although Zelenka was born before Bach, his Missa omnium Sanctorum adapted the musical style that CPE Bach took to maturity. Lasting nearly an hour this was not short of substance, but appeared rather disjointed in musical construction, not least in having two settings of the Quoniam and Cum sancto Spiritu, and making the Agnus Dei strident and instant, rather than the usual more pleading mood. This was one of his last works, and was to have part of a set of four such Masses, only three of which were completed. Václav Luks was an impressive conductor, although he should give his soloists rather more space.

Wednesday 17 June 

An early evening organ recital was given in the striking Evangelical Reformed Church, with its neo-Renaissance exterior and an interior that looks as though it has been carved out of a chalk cliff. Organist Nicolas Berndt played a mixed programme of Bruhns, Sweelinck, Couperin, Stanley, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Bach. Unfortunately, the organ (a neo-classical Jemlich, 1969) sounded in a pretty poor state, tuning being just one issue, to the extent that it really wasn’t suitable for a public recital. Berndt made the best of it, adding his own rather adventurous (and not entirely appropriate) elaborations to the concluding Bach Concerto in a minor.

The later concert was given in Leipzig’s impressive Grassi Museum for Musical instruments by the Zimelien Ensemble Leipzig, playing Bach, Graun, Vivaldi and Weiss. I was particularly impressed with the second violinist Mechthild Karkow, her sensitive bow strokes working with the strings rather than attacking them as her (more senior) colleague was want to do. Her forceful bow strokes affected both tone and intonation, and not in a good way. The theorbo player also tended to play too much, and too loudly. At the same time as this concert, the Thomaskirche saw the farewell concert for Georg Christoph Biller, the recently retired Thomaskantor

Thursday 18 June 

 The fourth ‘Bach out and about’ tour was to Ponitz, a visit that combined architecture, WP_20150618_12_00_24_Prowith a small Renaissance manor house, currently being restored, and an organ: the fine 1735 Gottfried Silbermann organ in the village church. Unlike the organ builder Hildebrandt, whose organs Bach often tested and approved, Silberamann seemed to keep such august reviewers well clear of his organs – Bach didn’t test any of them. In fact, they only met each other in 1746 in Naumburg, when Bach was testing Hildebrandt’s Magnum opus. The Ponitz organ is sited, as with many Silbermann organs in Thuringia, at the liturgical front of the church, above the altar and pulpit, the Lutheran symbolism of the power of music and the word being obvious. The church organist, Christoph Beyrer, demonstrated the sounds of the organ and gave a recital that included pieces by Buchner, Bruhns, Hindemoth, Bach and his pupil Krebs – who might have been the compliant organist invited to test the organ.

WP_20150614_13_27_54_ProAn early evening organ recital in the Thomaskirche started with pieces by Kuhnau, Müthel and Bach (the Toccata C ( BWV 564) played by Albrecht Koch on the ‘Bach’ organ, built in the year 2000 and reflecting the type of organ that Bach would have been familiar with in Saxony and Thuringia. He then moved to the enormous Sauer organ on the west-end gallery for Reger’s Sonata in d (Op.60). In typical Reger style, the dynamic ranged from barely audible single stops to unremitting power.

The main evening concert was in the Nikolaikirche, with Philippe Herreweghe directing his Collegium Vocale Gent in the Johannes-Passion, performed with the revisions and additions Bach made for a performance on Good Friday 1725. These were later removed, making this version the one furthest removed from all the other versions. The work opens with one of Bach’s changes, the extensive chorale O Mensch bewein dein Sünde groß. Other changes include the Aria and Choral Himmel reiße, Welt erbebe, with its virtuoso obligato cello and the dramatic tenor aria Zerschmettert mich, ihr Feisen. This was an excellent performance, not least because of the sensitive conducting of Philippe Herreweghe, quietly coaxing and encouraging his fellow musicians. The 16-strong choir included all the soloists apart from Thomas Hobbs, Evangelist, and Florian Boesch asJesus. The singers were grouped in a semicircle around the orchestra, creating a fine sense of space.

A late night concert featured music by Waits und Violonists given in the Altes Rathaus by Musica Fiata led by Roland Wilson. Perhaps it was the inevitably stifling heat that always affects this venue, or just a very busy day of concerts, but this really left me cold. It left another member of the audience clearly over-heated, leading to a very loud demand to nobody in particular to open the window – which somebody meekly did, only to have closed again by somebody else a few moments later. Their programme was Sonatas, Intradas, Canzonas and other works by Pezel, Schein, Scheidt, Rosenmüller, Reiche, Horn and Bach – the latter, as he usually does, completely stealing the show and making all the other composers appear just amateur. Intonation and rhythmic coordination were just two of the issues that made this a less than satisfactory occasion.

Friday 19 June   

The fifth ‘Bach out and about’ day trip was a curious affair. Apparently at the request of some previous Bachfest attendees, we visited the Meissen factory and museum, not far from Dresden. I am afraid that Meissen porcelain has always struck me as a prime example of the appalling artistic taste of the aristocratic classes, and this visit did nothing to dissuade me from that view. Goethe had similar views, stating that he couldn’t ‘find anything that he would want in his house’. One oddity on view, although it possibly gave some credence to the visit, WP_20150619_13_07_18_Prowas the so-called ‘Porcelain Organ’, an odd looking little thing that took up vast amounts of research and development to produce a mere 22 porcelain pipes, inserted as part of a 2’ stop in a four-rank organ. Attempts at making such pipes date back to the 18th century, all unsuccessful. The technical problems are vast, not least for the fact that porcelain shrinks by 16% when fired, and that the resulting pipes are incapable of any alteration. These 22 pipes are apparently tuneable, but how that happens was rather glossed over. The jovial resident organ demonstrator gave an energetic introduction to the instrument and played a varied programme together with an impressive flute and recorder player Sabine Zschuppe. Apparently Japan have now ordered similar pipes. Good publicity for Miessen, I suppose, but otherwise rather a waste of effort.

The main Friday evening concert in the Thomaskirche was given by an orchestra and 24-strong choir formed from students of London’s Royal Academy of Music and New York’s Juilliard School, the orchestras being the Royal Academy of Music Baroque Orchestra & Juilliard415 respectively. They were directed by Masaaki Suzuki and led by the distinguished violinist Rachel Podger. Sandwiched between two Bach cantatas was the Double Violin concerto (BWV 1043), played by Davina Clarke (RAM) and Carrie Krause (Juliard) and directed by Rachel Podger. I couldn’t quite see who was playing which part, but they both played with a spirit of cooperation, both between themselves and with their fellow students. Both were expressive and made appropriate additions to the musical line. The central Largo was given a particularly attractive and fluid interpretation. The opening cantata was Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75), Bach’s first cantata in Leipzig. Whether reflecting his move from a princely court or giving hints of future tussles with the Leipzig WP_20150616_17_06_15_ProCity Counsellors, Bach’s text reflects on the contrast between rich and poor with lines such as ‘What good is purple’s majesty, since it fades’. The opening reflects this by contrasting a quaisi-French overture with a plaintive oboe melody, played by David Dickey. The concluding cantata was the Ascension Cantata, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (BWV 11). Bach uses the full range of instruments, notably the two flutes, played by Melanie Williams and Marjolein Vermeeren. In both cantatas, a clear division in styles between the four vocal soloists became quickly apparent, with two having surprisingly large and over-vibrant operatic voices totally unsuited to this repertoire. Soprano Charlotte Schoeters was by far the best soloist (particularly in the aria Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke), with tenor Nathan Haller close behind. There was a similar different in styles during the final applause when two of the singers were gleefully waving from the gallery to friends in the audience, and even throwing some of their presentation flowers down to them. For the sake of international relations and continued cooperation, I will not reveal which institution these two hailed from.

WP_20150619_22_42_07_ProIn sharp contrast to all of this came one of the late night jazz sessions given in the Moritzbastei (an underground club in part of the medieval fortifications) by radio.string.quartet. Their traditional, although amplified, string quartet format belied a vast range of impressive evocative sounds and musical textures, include several Bach references. Very impressive!

Saturday 20 June

The penultimate day of the Bachfest started with the sixth and last of the ‘Bach out and about’ trips, this time a return to the extraordinary hunting lodge of Hubertusburg Palace, in Wermsdorf, east of Leipzig. Located on a site with a long history of such lodges, WP_20150620_13_04_31_Prothis incarnation was built in 1721. Augustus the Strong had converted to Catholicism for purely political and self-promotional reasons, and the new palace included an enormous Catholic chapel, although no evidence of it was visible on the external elevation. It soon took on a wider court role than a mere hunting lodge, and in 1745 an organ by Schramm was incorporated into the chapel. Both palace and organ have suffered over the years, the former looted by the Prussians in 1761 and then used as a prison, military hospital and psychiatric clinic. Although the chapel survived the looting, the organ fell into disuse and the whole suffered during Russian occupation after the war, with most of the pipes being destroyed. The church is dedicated to St Hubert, patron saint of hunting. The organ was originally intended the new court church in Dresden, but was moved to Wermsdorf when the large Silbermann/Hildbrandt organ was constructed. In 2000, the Schramm organ was reconstructed, using the few remaining parts, but with new pipework. Espen Melbø gave a Bach recital. This was to have been followed by a concert by the vocal group Amacord but, for reasons not entirely explained, this was cancelled at the last minute.

The mid-evening concert was given by Concerto Copenhagen in the Altes Rathaus, with the second of two programmes featuring the Brandenburg Concertos. These were collected together in 1721, two years before Bach moved to Leipzig, and were probably stored unused WP_20150620_15_55_10_Prothere for several years while Bach concentrated on composing church choral music.  Taking over the Collegium musicum in 1729 gave him the chance to resurrect pieces like this. Alongside Brandenburgs 1 and 3, two pieces based on other Brandenburg concertos were performed; the Harpsichord Concerto (BWV 1057, based on Brandenburg 4) and the splendid Sinfonia to Cantata BWV 174, based on Brandenburg 3, but with added woodwind and brass. In contrast to the orchestral pieces was the cantata Ich bin in mir vergnügt (BWV 204), sung by the Swedish soprano Maria Keohane. She seemed to be dressed either in some sort of Swedish national costume, or as one of Bach’s wives dressed for a night out. Neither possibility really matched the mood of the cantata, which was all moderation and tranquillity. And, although she had a fine voice, I didn’t detect any emotional or vocal response to the cantata’s text. Amongst the instrumentalists, Katy Bircher, Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann, Louna Hosia and Antoine Torunczyk made notable contributions. Lars Ulrik Mortensen directed from the harpsichord with his customary flamboyant gusto.

The late night concert was given by Sette Voci, a vocal group that contained several former prize-winners of the Leipzig Bach competition. The five singers performed motets by Bach, Schein and Schütz to the accompaniment of organ and cello, directed by bass Peter Kooij. Although born the year before Schein, Schütz lived for 42 years longer, the developments in music during that period apparent from his music, published in 1648. We heard the motet Die mit Tränen säen from both composers back to back, allowing for direct comparison. Schein’s Da Jakob vollendet hatte was particularly effective, its intense opening giving way to a gentle rocking central passage. Sadly here, as in several other motets, the lead soprano’s voice was too loud and contained far too many swoops up to notes. The second soprano had a more effective voice for this repertoire, but also had some unsteady moments. The best singers were the middle two voices, with Margot Oitzinger, alto, and tenor Thomas Hobbs.

Sunday 21 June

The oddity of flight timetables meant that I wasn’t able to stay for the final concerts of the festival, including the traditional last concert of the B minor Mass, on this occasion given by the Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart directed by Hans-Christoph Radema

And so ended the Bachfest. There were an extraordinary 124 events, with 455 works by 141 composers performed by 1,462 musicians, including 185 soloists, twenty-three instrumental ensembles and 22 choirs. The breadth of music to be heard was staggering – you could have gone to several concerts a day, and not hear a note of Bach, should you have wished to. Practically every concert I attended was sold out. Besides German visitors, the countries most strongly represented were the USA, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Japan and Australia, with others coming from Brazil, Columbia, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. All the major concert programmes and the Bach Out & About trips had English translations of the notes, and the trips were further enlightened by excellent English interpretations by Daniel Bintener, Erin Boggs and Anne Ursinus.

The next Leipzig Bach Festival is from 10-19 June 2016. Entitled ‘Secrets of Harmony’, the programme will focus on J. S. Bach’s cantatas from the so-called first annual cycle of 1723-24 and will also compare versions of the St Matthew and St Mark Passions. In honour of the 100th anniversary of the death of Max Reger and the 150thanniversary of the birth of Ferruccio Busoni in 2016, parts of the programme will be also devoted to them. Tickets go on sale on October 15, 2015.

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