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12 - 16 FEBRUARY 2020


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Concerts in the Nieuwe Kerk


Wednesday, 13 February 2019 - 8 p.m.

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A Smouldering Gypsy Fire

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Quatuor Van Kuijk, Ishay Shaer, Nikola Meeuwsen, Thomas Beijer, Deirdre Angenent, Peter Nilsson

The 2019 edition of the Februari Festival opens with music by Brahms and his protégé Dvořák; music that appears to have been composed out of an equal degree of passion. The music of Brahms is tremendously expressive and lively, compelling the listener to experience a whirlwind of colours and emotions, to which Dvořák adds a good dose of Bohemian panache. His feelings of exuberant joy and suffocating despair seem to be removed only a few notes from those of Brahms.

Thursday, 14 February 2019 - 8 p.m.


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Butterflies In Your Stomach

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Thomas Beijer, Renate Arends, Deirdre Angenent, Peter Nilsson, Ishay Shaer, Hawijch Elders, Nikola Meeuwsen

Having been dubbed ‘the new Beethoven’ and in the throes of a turbulent relationship with Clara Schumann, the young Brahms was under considerable pressure. A relentless quest for the right melody and fitting harmonies prompted him to study folk music and compositions from the Renaissance and the Baroque. Thus, the music of Bach came to have a great impact on him, as well as that of his contemporary Johann Strauss Jr., whom he admired for the spontaneity with which he crafted an infinite cornucopia of melodies. The product of this is the passionate and sincerely moving chamber music that is so typical of Brahms. Perhaps this was his way of making amends for clumsily chosen words and unrequited romances?

Friday, 15 February 2019 - 8 p.m.

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A Scholarly Perfectionist

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Simone Lamsma, Rob van de Laar, Thomas Beijer, Ishay Shaer, Animato Quartet

Perfectionist Johannes Brahms regularly destroyed works that, in his opinion, failed to satisfy the lofty demands he imposed on himself. What remained was an oeuvre of highly innovative chamber music works. Using only the minimum of thematic material, he was able to create masterpieces on the grandest possible scale. Continually surpassing himself with the lyrical dialogues and harmonic tours de force that are so typical to his compositions, Brahms was able to translate his profound understanding of the emotions he was feeling into music in such a way that the listener cannot help but be deeply moved.

Saturday, 16 February 2019 - 7.30 p.m.

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Waltzes With A Depth Of Feeling

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Dirk Luijmes, Quatuor Van Kuijk, Ishay Shaer, Animato Kwartet, Renate Arends, Barbara Kozelj, Hans Pieter Herman, Hannah Strijbos, Peter Nilsson, Jan-Paul Grijpink

This evening’s programme is a festive soirée, in which we pull out all the stops. Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer are more than light-hearted songs of love - albeit in its numerous facets. Not only are they moving in their sincerity; they also showcase Brahms’ musicality and profundity. Never, ever could they be called kitschy - an achievement he shares with the unsurpassed ‘king of melodies’ Johann Strauss Jr. The last work is Brahms’ Piano Quartet, in which the audible influences of gypsy music clearly hark back to his youth, exhibiting an unprecedented vitality and a tremendous promise of the future.

Sunday, 17 February 2019 - 3.30 p.m.


A Self-Indulgent String Finale

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Thomas Beijer, Renate Arends, Peter Nilsson, Simone Lamsma, Robert Kulek, Hannah Strijbos

We will be ending the Februari festival on a fantastic, tempestuous note, in which no emotions will be spared. Once more, you will be immersed in the masterful music of Brahms, ranging from intimate and lyrical to exuberant and extroverted. From a string quintet to a string sextet: Johannes Brahms was one of the first to attempt a work scored for six string players. This edition of the Februari Festival will close with one of Brahms’ absolute masterpieces in the chamber music genre: the lyrical and melancholic Second String Sextet, a piece that contains numerous references to both Clara Schumann and Agathe von Siebold, whose seductive soprano makes the violins sing out.