Herbert Grönemeyer - Live in Lucerne

Herbert Grönemeyer conducting the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and pianist Anna Vinnitskaya was an incredible experience between humility, nervousness and genius. A moment of happiness for the audience.

Herbert Grönemeyer has been on stage for 40 years and you would think that almost nothing could shake him. When he steps onto the stage of the KKL Luzern on 28.11.2021, he takes a deep breath and from my seat in the second row, the nervousness doesn't look fake. There's a whole symphony orchestra sitting in front of him, a full house behind him and he has to deliver. I think "good luck" but also "what could possibly go wrong, they're all professional musicians". 

The whole thing begins with Tchaikovsky and his Slavonic March, which was first performed at a benefit concert for the Red Cross in 1876 and tells the story of the war of liberation of the Serbs against the Ottoman Empire. At the end, Tchaikovsky really lets it rip with lots of brass and the Tsar's Anthem.

If you sit right at the front, a piece of an orchestra stretches out much more and the low notes are very present. In addition, the many plucked interludes are clearly perceptible. Even in the concert hall, I doubt that the audience at the back can hear it the way I can at the front. 

This is what it should ideally sound like when you're sitting in front of the soundboard. The recording by Matthias Georg Kendlinger doesn't seem to be bad and somehow comes close to what you hear. Nevertheless, a concert hall with its volume and lively instruments is incomparable.

The second piece is a suite arranged by Herbert Grönemeyer's buddy and band member since 1982 - Alfred Kritzer. Elements from Mensch and also from the American feature film "The American" by Anton Corbijn with George Clooney can be found in it. I even saw the movie in the cinema back then. The film music is by Herbert Grönemeyer, which I didn't know until now. So far so good. At some point in the middle I think that we're listening to something very simple and then I realize that it's an excerpt from "Mensch". How simply pop music works 😉

The third piece played after a short break is Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in C minor op. 18). Anna Vinnitskaya, still considered a shooting star at the age of 36, really plays big here. I don't know what contribution Herbert Grönemeyer could have made to her playing. Sensational - and at the end of the piece the hall jumps to its feet, clapping and cheering. As she is sitting right in front of me, I can see her fingers whizzing over the keyboard like dervishes and her facial expressions (which can be quite funny) show that she is completely immersed in the piece and plays with her eyes closed in the slow passages and makes a corresponding face herself when it gets faster and darker. She plays half the piece without even looking.

The orchestra also plays superbly, of course, and together they form a team that fuses sounds into a unity.

Here is the complete concert with her in a recording from Cologne. It really does sound very different from Lucerne. The audience doesn't jump up either. Everything is very civilized 😉

Then Herber Grönemeyer takes to the microphone himself. From now on, Alfred Kritzer conducts. He sings "Halt mich" and Anna Vinnitskaya accompanies him skillfully and effortlessly on the piano. He then proves that he can still sing in the upper registers. Herbert Grönemeyer then smiled a little happily and a little mischievously that he had succeeded. Everything went well, standing ovations and everyone left the hall happy.

You can get close to Herbert Grönemeyer again in a really long interview. "Die Zeit" is making a podcast called "Alles gesagt". Jochen Wegner and Christoph Amend interview him for over 5:15 hours.

Herbert Grönemeyer talks about Germany, his life and his career, about his beginnings in Bochum and his years in London, about encounters with Willy Brandt and Nelson Mandela, Bono and Nastassja Kinski, about his skepticism towards Spotify, his passion for cars, his family and friends, his musical role models, about his difficult relationship with tabloid media - and about his last concert, which he wants to play at the age of 89. All in German.

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