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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Shade 陰 Ombra (mai fù)

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

2023年6月22日


No. I am not turning into a train nerd. However, whilst looking for my platform at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof last Sunday morning, I passed this evocative logo.......ÖBB....Österreichische Bundesbahnen....(Austrian Federal Railways)...If I hopped on here I would eventually land up in Zagreb (Croatia)....via Austria...a nice thought.....いいえ! 私はてっちゃんじゃない.....😆。フランクフルト駅日曜日の。

ただ気づいてことがある. Nearby stood the 08.06 to Milano Centrale.....Trenitalia

And not far away was a TGV ready to go to Paris. Say what you like, but I find this all rather romantic. Not an adjective that would immediately spring to mind when considering Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. It reminded me of another encounter I had had years ago at this same station. Why this iron leviathan was departing for Kassel on a Sunday morning I have no idea....there must be something about Sunday mornings at Frankfurt Railway station!!......2015 年日曜日の朝、フランクルト駅

My destination on this Sunday was rather more modest - a little station next to the Technical University in Darmstadt. Yes, it had been swelteringly hot the whole week, so I had planned an early morning walk from here through shady forest. Aaaah! bliss! We walked nearly 13km entirely in the shade かげ, (Italian Ombra) stopping for a relaxing lunch break at the Ludwigshöhe Tower. Germany seems to be full of these little 19thc romantic towers, built just for fun it seems. But is this tower straight or leaning? Neither the research physicist, the marine biologist or the violinmaker could provide empirical truth here.....🙄 私たちのハイキングの昼休み。 塔は傾いていませんか?

Shade! 🌳 陰 So important. Not least for King Xerxes, who lingers under a plane tree at the beginning of Handel's eponymous opera ("Serses" in English).

A birthday in the family, so what better than go to the opera? We were both most impressed by the production. Outside the Frankfurt Oper...私は息子の誕生日にオペラに連れて行きました.

Space for a baroque orchestra had been incorporated into the stage construction, allowing the singers to walk in front of it when necessary. And what you can do with a baroque orchestra! There is nothing quite like the naughty burping of a baroque bassoon, or the ropey sound of a baroque double bass, or indeed the juicy twang of a Theobo (think 18thc. Ebass) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theorbo

to conjure up an 18thc theatre. Fantastic!

The opera is basically about a spoilt king (this evening sung by superb soprano Bianca Andrew) who thinks he can simply have any woman he likes. He chooses his brother's lover. What a nice decision. Handel leads us into the deceitful world of the super rich. Trust: that is what is lacking here. But it survives. His brother's lover, Romilda, remains faithful, and Xerxes is left alone at the end contemplating his narcissistic power, so to speak. This opera was first performed on April 15th 1738 in London. Despite the wonderful music it was not a commercial success - maybe the wealthy at the time found it too near the mark! In the Frankfurt Oper, the clean simple stage, (the centrepiece being a sumptious banquet table) coupled with excellent video support, only emphasized that less means more. I took this photo during the applause at the end...Xerxes (Bianca Andrews) in the middle, isolated by his own power......G.F.ヘンデルのオペラ「クセルクセス」


Shade. 🌳 .陰.... It seems to be the theme of this blog post. We were so grateful for the shade given by the woods near Darmstadt, and we are so grateful for Mr. Handel for composing this aria Ombra mai fù ("never was such a shade"). It was his last opera (he died the following year), so what was he thinking when he composed this aria? And then putting it at the beginning of the opera?

Little did he know that it would become a classic hit, and gain the title "Handel's Largo" (even though he wrote Larghetto in the score)!

How could one human create such beauty, to be revered down the centuries? It's not as if Xerxes was a particular nice guy. He is immature and lonely. Hence he can only direct his affections to a tree!

It was the first time I had seen this famous aria in context. Here is Tilman Köhler (in German/English) about his staging ......... https://oper-frankfurt.de/de/spielplan/xerxes_3/

What a truly quality production. Superb singers, exciting orchestra, and and a flawless cool, crisp production with excellent acoustics.

👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

 

So......now take a deep breath and exhale slowly.....for we leave Handel's exquisite shade and debauchery and move to........a divine Bach 'cello suite. I am always happy when friends send me their recordings, so this made my day: The 3rd Suite played by my good friend Aki Kitajima, who last week was at the Evangelische Versöhnungskirche at Dachau Concentration Camp, near Munich..........https://youtube.com/watch?v=xRuHxa6mMi8&feature=share

This was an unexpected bonus to land in my LINE inbox.

Thank you Aki! 北嶋愛季はありがとう!

She also played Masao Yokoyama's Ginei for Violoncello Solo (2018) 横山真男:チェロ独奏のための”吟詠 and Bloch's Prayer, accompaned by Franz Werner on the organ. E.ブロッホ:祈り. I have memories of playing that Bloch in CTK in Frankfurt, with Nik having to cope on the old piano there......(There is now a new one, thank goodness).


 

And so from 'cellos to bridges. No. not 'cello bridges. Bridges is an extraordinary orchestra based in Frankfurt. It integrates musicians with a migration background into a classical concert "space". Probably best if I just redirect you to their site : http://bridgesmusikverbindet.de/en/

They play in some pretty way-out locations (as well as the collar-and-tie environment of Kronberg it has to be said). To get to their recent concert I had to find the Alte Seilerie - (the old Rope Factory), which was in some wild nether region of Frankfurt called Offenbach. On alighting from the tram I glimpsed the ECB - the European Cenral Bank, bizzarely, over fields....ブリッジズはフランクフルトを拠点とする並外れたオーケストラです。

With the help of some random 'cellist crossing the road (........err, I mean Gabriel😂), I found the said factory, bought a beer (the guy at the bar quoted the price in Taler - must be some local dialect) and sat down. Alongside a harp and a 'cello the stage soon filled up with unusual instruments which I could not name. So here is the programme, which might help you......プログラム

It was exhilerating to listen to Johanne-Leonore Dahlhoff's Concertino, which highlighted the different timbres and colours of this exotic group. And I was very moved to hear Dana Barak's "Wa Jechi le Achi".

Here are some photos, which may convey the whacky venue.....興味深い会場


Are these weeds?, no. But there was a unmistakable whiff from backstage.......☺


Most of the pieces played had either been composed or arranged by members of the orchestra, and I enjoyed listening to them. In the introduction speech no nationalities were mentioned - intentionally it seems. Some musicians have "difficult" or "problematic" passports. This led me to think of how lucky I am to be part of the European community......so no surprise that this article caught my eye later on........


🎙.........from the BBC: June. 2023....The World Economic Forum :

The three most powerful passports in the world are all Asian, according to the 2023 Henley Passport Index. It ranks all of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without obtaining a visa in advance.

Japan has the world’s most powerful passport for the 5th year in a row. Holders can visit 193 out of 227 global destinations visa-free.

South Korea and Singapore are tied in 2nd place on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192. Germany and Spain are joint 3rd, with visa-free access to 190 destinations.

知ってますか? 日本は世界で最も強力なパスポートを持っています


 

This week's Kanji can only be one thing : 陰 or かげ (Kage) whose main meaning is shade or shadow. So I reached for my brush.........


Calligraphers will complain that my "Kage" is not in the middle of the page. Well then I need to practise....😔


Thank you for reading "......Shade........."

「....陰 .........」を読んでくれてありがとう



Feel free to share the blog with friends.

よろしければ、リンクを友達と共有してください😊



***STOP PRESS***

wing mirror incident - do I have to report it to the police?????? 🤣



THE END

🌴

終わり



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