A bit of BOB on the green


They say you never get anything for nothing but the yearly Klassik!Picknick at Kunstrasen must be as close as you can get.  90 minutes worth of the best in classical music from the orchestra where one of Germany’s best composers was at home.  But why do they never seem to play any  Beethoven?  Not  that I’m complaining.  We did get a double helping of Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.  Oh, and no rain.  God is a  Classics fan too!

I know that you can count the classical reviews on 3songsbonn on one hand and still have digits left over.  It’s not a music that’s easily approachable and when you do approach it there’s very often something intimidating about the locations and the patronage.  My school used to bus us into Portsmouth Guildhall occasionally for an appearance by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, but Bournemouth? The music might as well have come from Mars.  In those days I was looking forward to seeing Elvis Costello and Thin Lizzy.  The BSO playing Beethoven was, in my young eyes, basically a cover band…


Now I’m older (sadly) but also wiser (not so sadly) and some of these tunes really are quite catchy.  What helps is that suddenly the music is accessible and that is really where I take off my hat and doff it at the feet of BOB.  Even that abbreviation for the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn  is a masterstroke.  How can you not like anyone called BOB?

Mariska van der Sande

Equally, how can you not like Johannes Pell?  He was young star of the year in 2011’s Opera World magazine and in the same year German Radio Berlin also ‘crowned’ him as ‘Young Conductor of the Year’ but he reminded me of Ranga Yogeshwar explaining the finer points of science on ‘Quarks & Co’.  Had he been conducting at Portsmouth Guildhall perhaps this music site would be purely classical!  Armed with a camera and license to roam during the evenings concert I roamed as far as the side of the stage.  here I spent several minutes trying to capture the interplay between conductor and conducted.  The results are in my photogallery, but I’m betting it’s fun to play in Mr Pell’s ‘Band’.


It’s certainly fun to hear the history behind the music and writers which would also have made such a difference to my school classical music visits. So would the pleasure on the faces of soloists such as Mariska van der Sande, plucked from her place in the orchestra for a super solo and smile.  Hans-Joachim Büsching with a similarly enthusiastic smile and sublime flute melodies.  Star guest though was undoubtedly baritone Giorgos Kanaris and here it was clear to see his experience with the Bonn Theatre through his stance and gestures.

Giorgos Kanaris

The music repertoire was less  populist than previous years with no recognizable film music ala James Bond or Walt Disney but plenty of familiar ‘classics’ all the same including Johann Strauß (Son) ‘Tritsch Tratsch Polka’  and Franz Lehar’s ‘Merry Widow’.  Biggest applause for the night though (or maybe I’m biased as an englishman) was for Elgar’s ‘Pomp & Circumstance’England’s ‘second national hymn’ as Johannes Pell pointed out.  Maybe a tad imperialistic when you add the lyrics: “Land of Hope & Glory…God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet!” Ah those grand days of Empire!  I prefer the music ‘sans’ lyrics.  Stirring stuff indeed.  I could have heard it again, and indeed I did.  Still once more!  I’ll wager even those people on the leather sofas at the back of the audience were on their feet!

Johannes Pell


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