The inaugural concert of the Urbanus Concert Series, the recent brain-child of Chorus Urbanus Productions expressed the typical rationale and dynamic thrust of the team: it is a celebration of music. Its scope is that of giving a platform to the excellent outstanding stamina of international artists invited to take part together with local protagonists in different venues around the city of Victoria.
The first concert of this bi-monthly series kicked off on Saturday 20th October and brought the Gozitan and foreign audience present with high-powered music making by Professor Gottfried Schneider from the Hochschule of Performing Arts in Munich, Germany. It exposed the patrons that packed Saint James Church with the consummate artistry of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Schneider’s performing prowess was eloquently transmitted through the gorgeous sound of the 1728 Stradivari creation that he performs upon.
The programme featured Bach’s solo violin sonatas nos. 1 and 3 together with Partita no.1 that left the audience mesmerized by the carrying power of the Stradivarius and the subtle expressive dexterity of Prof. Schneider. In the short introduction before the concert Dr Galea and Prof. Schneider enlightened the audience about the sequence of the established model of Bach’s time regarding the Sonata (sonata da chiesa) and the Partita (sonata da camera). The repertoire that was performed matched the elegant acoustic ambience of St James Church that permitted a seamless flow of contrapuntal interplay and brisk passagework that left the audience intrigued. Bach’s treatment of the violin as a polyphonic instrument is indeed remarkable, a treatment that warrants the playing of full, multi-voice textures and one that suggests multiple, independent voices simultaneously.
The concert came to a close with arguably the greatest piece of music ever conceived for solo strings – a 15-minute chaconne in which a single idea resonates through 31 variations that embrace a universe of artistry and expression. The long thunderous applause that was granted to Prof. Schneider was a tangible proof of the appreciation of the patrons. After the concert Prof. Schneider was delighted to meet a number of young Gozitan violinists introduced by Dr Galea to the eminent professor, whose recording of the entire set of Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas will be released on CD next month in Germany.
Dr John Galea, the artistic director of the series, George Borg Jr., Ms. Hilda Grima, Rev. Fr George Borg, rector of St James Church, as well as the other helpers at the event deserve everybody’s appreciation for this inaugural concert. The series promises to be a source of exposition to a sector of the music repertoire that is perhaps rarely performed due to the impressively demanding technical wizardry required from the performers. The next concert of the series will be the 15th edition of Il-Kuncert tal-Milied by Chorus urbanus that will take place at St.George’s Basilica on Sunday 16th December, 2012.
This concert was also given prominence in the Australian Maltese Newspaper "The Maltese Herald" - 6th November 2012 Issue.
Profile: Prof. Gottfried Schneider
Gottfried Schneider comes from a musical family. His mother was a noted singer and his father conducted the local orchestra in Badgastein, where Schneider was born.
At the age of three he received his first violin lessons and eight years later he already gave his debut as a soloist with an orchestra. Formal musical education began at the Mozarteum Salzburg. Further education and studies were provided by Otto Buechner ( Munich), Max Rostal (Bern) and Ivan Galamian ( New York).
Schneider is a prize winner of international competitions as the Carl Flesch Prize of London and the Jeunesses Musicales Prize of Belgrade. In addition to this he was awarded with the Gebrüder - Busch Prize. Rudolph Serkin invited him to the Marlboro Festival in the US.
He is regularly touring as a soloist round the world, both as soloist with orchestras and with chamber music groups. Beside this he is often invited as member of the Jury for International Competitions in Germany and abroad.
Schneider succeeded Sandor Vegh as a Professor for Violin and Chamber music at the Music Academy in Düsseldorf. Since 1991 he is Professor at the Music Academy for Music and Theatre in Munich.
Schneider took part in numerous TV - and CD productions. Among his repertoire of about 60 solo concerts are also violin concerts of Dohnanyi, Götz, Adolf Busch, Kurt Weill and first performances of contemporary works by known composers of the 20ieth century,as B.A. Zimmermann, Lutoslawski. Ligeti and W. Rihm.