Bacchus has construction site today. The emperor's artificial pleasure grotto is located in a shady niche in the pleasure garden of Ambras Castle on the right below the main castle. I meet Hubert and Mariya, the two curators of the Chamber Music Days „Obertöne“, upstairs in the Schlosscafé Ferdinand, but the ancient god of ecstasy must be worshipped here beforehand, as the emperor wants. Legends still entwine around the wild welcome rituals for guests. I bow deeply to the construction site grille, shout a Latin greeting into the darkness (In Baccho et Venere! - In Lust and Love!) and stroll up the gravel path to the castle with the blessing of sin.
Mariya Nesterovska and Hubert Mittermayer Nesterovskiy are the two people sitting opposite me in the wood-paved inner courtyard who, with the chamber music concert series "Obertöne" in the magnificent Bernardisaal of Stams Abbey, have been gathering some of the best musicians in the world for ten years now. One must know about overtones: It is precisely those fine secondary tones that resonate with the struck keynote, indeed, that only indicate the true fullness and scope of the tone heard. And it is precisely these subtle incidentals that are immediately noticeable in the two of them: well-considered answers and selected words to spice up what is said with worthy enthusiasm. Here sit two people whose music literally flows from their souls. Every word resonates in the courtyard and seems to linger in the silence for a little while before the sound fades away - I have goose bumps.
Splendor without frills
The concept of chamber music was not really born until the Baroque period: instrumental music with a small ensemble, classically in a string quartet or as a brisk piano trio. In Stams Abbey, a few hundred years later, things actually still look the same as they did back then: gold-studded stucco, elaborate murals, sacred motifs, and false perspectives that strive hopefully toward heaven. Only the music has changed a bit, thanks to Mariya and Hubert. A motley mix - she, the beauty on the violin, he, a beast on the bassoon, and then all the others: 27 artists from eleven countries have delighted the audience of Obertöne since its founding in 2014. You can listen to them online, by the way, where everything was masterfully recorded and pressed into bits and bytes for eternity. That the two curators are full-blown perfectionists has long been beyond question for me. The fact that many musical questions are nevertheless only clarified on stage is all the more surprising.
Concertare among cam(m)erads
Telemann.brahms.mittermayer.lecic.pisendel.nisinman - already the program on the first of the four concert days from September 13 to 17 reads like an exquisite tasting menu. And here Mariya has to smile again, because that's exactly how it is: like a good meal! Like a chef, we only have the spoon in our hands. The question is always, what do you experience at the first bite? It's also very important that you don't overeat at the end. The personalities of the artists are therefore very central for us. It's impossible for us to detach the work from the performer; for that, you'd have to put the score in a museum - completely unthinkable in pop culture, Hubert adds. Wagner, on the other hand: I am the work! It is possible to exaggerate, but when someone goes on stage, the character goes along with it. It always "smells" like you, Mariya muses, yes, you have to be a bit of a stage pig for that!
Concertare actually means competing, Hubert explains to me - that's why we first select the people, then the "development program" follows, the pieces for the players. We don't just think about the instrument, and we've even changed entire programs when the concept isn't completely coherent. Our four concerts are like a play, there is a narrative and no repetitions. Like a playground. Or Lindenstraße, he laughs: We always do something new!
The most precious thing is time
The uncertainty of the moment is what makes it so exciting; you only finally meet on stage. It's also a bit of top-class sport: the concentration is extreme, training (rehearsal) and competition (concerto) are fundamentally different, the really unforgettable moments always have to succeed, something has to remain open, uncertain. You simply need to trust each other, give and take, like and respect each other, like a good relationship. With some pieces, you do ask yourself why you're doing this to yourself," Hubert laughs. But when you're on stage together, all that counts is the musical dialogue between the people. But it's such a super program, Mariya jubilates, every day is great, I'm happy, a feeling of happiness, such excitement! The enthusiasm is contagious, the love for music so genuine that you just want to listen to the two in silence.
The most beautiful moments often can't be planned at all, Hubert recalls: "During Corona we played outdoor concerts, were once surprised by a summer thunderstorm and continued playing in the hallway. Such situations arise spontaneously, and that's where the magic lies, the magic of the moment, the goose bumps, Mariya enthuses. People give their time, that is not a matter of course. And there are so many pleasant things in life, she laughs - it should be worth it, you should go home fulfilled! We see it very emotionally, also a little psychologically, like a liberation perhaps. The first such "liberatio" plays next Wednesday, September 13, at 6 p.m. in Stams Abbey(tickets here ). So that there is still time for beautiful things afterwards.
Photos: The portrait of Mariya and Hubert in the Schlosscafé Ferdinand and the proof picture of the pleasure grotto were taken by the author. The other pictures were shot by Heinz Zak for the Obertöne.
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A small "scribbler" with huge passions. Born, raised and refined in Tyrol. Loves to read and can cook almost as well as his grandma. At his happiest when out and about and searching for new horizons.