When Friendship Harmonises: A Musical Celebration in Saanen

  15.05.2024 Arts & Culture, Events, Music, Arts & Culture

Five former Yehudi Menuhin and Alberto Lysy students, who have remained close friends over the decades, came together for a remarkable concert at Saanen church on Tuesday, April 30. The seeds sown by these renowned teachers thirty years ago continue to yield beautiful fruit today and beyond.

The Friends of the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA), stewards of the Menuhin Centre in Saanen, curated an annual concert featuring IMMA graduates. This year's event, announced by association president Çetin Köksal, doubled as a celebration of former IMMA president Franziska Haldi's 80th birthday. Haldi fondly reminisced about her days with the performers, recalling how they once sat at her table "like my children." Liviu Prunaru, Valentina Svyatlovskaya, Bogdan Zvoristeanu (violinists), Sophia Reuter (violist), and Stanimir Todorov (cellist) have since risen to prominence as top musicians in leading positions worldwide.

The concert showcased nine meticulously selected pieces in harmonious unity, allowing each performer to shine as a soloist. Whether performing as soloists, in trios, quartets, or quintets, their collaboration was marked by impeccable harmony. Their virtuosity and deep musicality were on full display, delivered with a delightful lack of pretension.

The program began with the introspective "Läuturaul" (The Fiddler) by George Enescu, featuring poignant violin solos. The Andante cantabile from Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata for Two Violins demonstrated the seamless interplay between the violins. Antonín Dvořák's Larghetto from Terzetto showcased unity and tranquillity, while Bedřich Smetana's Allegro vivo appassionata from his string quartet evoked lively themes and expansive emotions.

The concert also featured Johann Sebastian Bach's Double Concerto for Two Violins (D minor, BWV 1043), which artfully expressed life's myriad emotions with haunting purity. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Rondo" from the Open Serenade K. 250 was delivered with warmth and grace, supported joyfully by the ensemble.

Franz Schubert's Litany for the Feast of All Souls brought contemplative solace, while Fritz Kreisler's "Etude Caprice" for cello and strings offered a spirited race of melodies. The concert culminated in a vivid rendition of "Winter" from Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, capturing winter's melancholy and stormy spirit.

The evening concluded with a spirited encore of "Introduction et Rondo" by Camille Saint-Saëns, uplifting and inspiring the audience.

The enduring spirit of Yehudi Menuhin and Alberto Lysy, who left an indelible mark both musically and personally in Saanen, continues to inspire lasting friendships and musical excellence. May their legacy inspire future generations to cultivate and cherish bonds of friendship.

Proceeds from the concert benefit the Alpenruhe Saanen Foundation and the Christmas parcel campaign, particularly for children in need.

The post-concert gathering at the Landhaus was a joyous and informal affair, highlighted by the local "Chinder-Jodlerchörli" serenading Franziska Haldi* on her birthday with pure yodeling.

Overall, this musical celebration among friends was a testament to the enduring power of music and friendship.


Based on AvS | Lotte Brenner

*Editors Note
It is with great sadness that I have learned of Franziska Haldi's sudden passing. My heartfelt condolences to her family and "students" who knew and loved her. She had a giant presence and an even bigger heart. May your soul rest in peace, dear Franziska. You will be sadly missed by your two and four-legged friends.
Jeanette Wichmann

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