Day Ten: A treasured icon in NZ

The last day of our blog is graced by an entry from a viola player/violinist/saxophonist Martin Jaenecke who has performed numerous times at the festival. We just love Martin’s enthusiasm and eloquence when it comes to talking about Nelson, the festival and chamber music in general! …


Victoria and Martin Jaenecke

Victoria and Martin Jaenecke

Sunday 10 Feb – From Martin Jaenecke

Nelson in summer is just a great place to be – great weather, nice location with the Tahunanui beach close by, and most importantly nice people.It seems that a town that attracts people mainly because they want to live there, rather than through fantastic job opportunities,big money or/and big industry, creates a somewhat special atmosphere.

Although our family moved away from here 5 years ago to Wellington, we still feel very much at home here – and once the kids leave home, we might come back to Nelson (at least for half of the year).

Every 2 years Nelson becomes even more special during the summer – that is during the Adam Chamber Music Festival. We, my wife Victoria and myself , are grateful that we have been involved with the festival over quite a few years now.

This is one of the best musical events I have come across in my life.

The variety of music that you can experience during this time is just phenomenal! I marvel about the ability of the NZ String Quartet members and all the other musicians to cover that much repertoire in such a short time.
Nearly unbelievable! 

You can listen to many highlights of classical music as well as less well known repertoire. There is contemporary music, a children’s concert, masterclasses, Richard Nunns with traditional Maori instruments, the ProAm workshop with concert – you can hear string and wind instruments, piano, trombones, a guitar quartet, singers just to name a few.

I am a little bit proud that in Friday’s concert (“Kreutzer”) I could add another element: the soprano saxophone. Having been involved in previous Adam Chamber Music Festivals with violin and viola, this is the first time that I played an instrument that I more and more have fallen in love with. Unlike the tenor sax which has a distinct erotic component , the soprano sax has some kind of divine quality to me, similar to a beautiful female voice.

Ed Ware, a composer of NZ origin, splitting his time between New York, Brazil and Spain, has become a friend over the years. Around 6 or 7 years ago I asked Ed if he would consider writing a piece for viola and soprano sax, as that would be perfect for Victoria and myself. He agreed to think about it, and at some point he sent us the music of his Duo for Soprano Saxophone and Viola. I am glad that this piece was chosen to be on the program for Friday night’s concert.

What makes this piece special to me (apart from having played a part in kickstarting it), is the rare mix of being very detailed and often complex in rhythm and at the same time very lyrical. A lot of the melodic lines have a real vocal quality to them, which makes it very enjoyable to play and ,according to everyone I talked to after the concert,also to listen to. This is a quality that I don’t come across often in contemporary music.

The next piece of the program, Kreutzer Sonata arranged for string quintet, was a lot of fun to listen to. It was so virtuosic and busy for all 5 players involved that for most of the time I just couldn’t get the smile off my face. It also seemed to me that all players had a ball playing it themselves – a quality that projects very well to the audience.

After the interval I played together with Richard Apperley on organ “Song without Words”,composed by Sofia Gubaidulina originally for trumpet and piano in 1977. This is written in a surprisingly traditional style: beautiful long melodic phrases and – with the exception of some unexpected dissonant chords – harmonically very traditional too. I think this style of music fits perfectly in the cathedral!

The highlight of the concert for me very personally (and not surprisingly) was to to play “Meditation”,a piece that I composed myself in 1996 but performed only twice before. It consists of a  small composed structure (for organ) with lots of room for improvisation (mainly for soprano sax).

As a performer I like the concerts best where I experience a great amount of freedom. Obviously during improvisation you have a lot of of freedom. Something is created in this moment and for this moment, it will never be the same in another concert. In classical music this happens too , but it is more of an improvisation in a micro cosmos. 

In “Meditation” I didn’t write out any part for the saxophone, but I had a clear idea about the structure, the development of the energy, and the mood I wanted to create in different parts of the piece. 

This was a concert where I felt very free. It was just wonderful to stand on the stage by myself, with no music in front of me, and create music in that very moment, knowing that I could rely on Richard to pick up the cues to co-create this piece.

Thank you Helene and Gillian for giving me the opportunity to do this! You made me very happy indeed (and eager to do more of this!)

To be brutally honest, I was so full of this experience that I didn’t manage to follow the Brahms sextet too intensely, so I can’t say much meaningful about it – sorry guys!

Having experienced the Adam Chamber Music Festival over a number of years, I observe that the Festival has developed into a treasured icon in NZ. People travel from all parts of the country or even other countries to Nelson because they know that they can experience here something that is quite extraordinary.

I feel privileged for having been able to play a small part in this wonderful event and I am looking forward to the next Adams Festival.

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