Highlighting an Outstanding Moment in Patent Leather Shoes

Highlighting an Outstanding Moment in Patent Leather Shoes

The widely accepted belief that classical music serves as an emotional pacifier, a therapeutic tool to induce calmness and relaxation, is unfortunately a common legend. This mindset is prevalent among many broadcasters, even the taxi drivers in Berlin. However, this was not always the case. Even Goethe, who was not particularly musical, had different experiences. He didn’t get lulled to sleep when he heard Beethoven’s music; rather, it stirred him. He described the experience of listening to a string quartet as a rational discourse, akin to hearing four sensible people having a conversation, from which one could derive some understanding or knowledge. This quote from Goethe, popular among quartet enthusiasts, dates back to 1829.

This sentiment was palpable once again on Tuesday evening when the Leonkoro Quartet graced the podium of the Chamber Music Hall for their debut performance at the Berlin Philharmonic. One could not help but notice their shiny, jet-black patent leather shoes, some flat, some with high heels – a departure from their usual attire.

However, it must be noted that they are still relatively young and not yet considered as “sensible”. Just a day before, they were students and only recently completed their master’s degree at the Lübeck University of Music in January. They are now stepping into their professional lives, but they already have a stellar reputation. This is indeed a cause for celebration.

They began their performance in sparkling C major, with a bird call emanating from the first violin. This playful note from Joseph Haydn in the first movement of his quartet op.33.3 was soon interspersed with general pauses and relocated to harmoniously distant expanses. The development was a bizarre excursion into the unknown. The subsequent, subdued Scherzo posed a mystery, but the Leonkoros tackled it with remarkable quietness, transparency, and breathtaking speed in the final movement.

The young Wolfgang Rihm

The performance continued with the quartet movement No. 9, composed in 1993 by the young Wolfgang Rihm. This piece is a juxtaposition of contradictions, of repulsion and attraction, much like Doctor Doolittle’s “Push-me-Pull-you.” The essence of quartet playing, with instruments of similar style but different colors and pitches, was brought to life. And the execution was flawless and masterful.

The legendary intensity of the Leonkoro Quartet is truly noteworthy. Their virtuosity seems incredibly natural, and the deep musical understanding that binds the two brothers, Jonathan Schwarz (violin) and Lukas Schwarz (cello), with their colleagues Amelie Wallner (violin) and Mayu Konoe (viola), is awe-inspiring. One cannot help but wonder – how can individuals so young possess such wisdom?

The evening reached its romantic climax with Robert Schumann’s A major quartet, rich in viola solos. While it is impossible to fully capture this wonder in words, everyone can experience it for themselves. The Leonkoros have recorded Schumann’s op.41.3 on their first CD, released on the Mirare label. They concluded their debut concert with a rare encore: “Alla Valse Viennese” by Erwin Schulhoff, who tragically passed away in the Wülzburg concentration camp in 1942.