An emotional and touching evening

Unfortunately, the weather threw a spanner into the organizers’ plans for a charity concert for the Valentina Foundation at the Weberzunfthaus on Sunday. Only a few spectators were able to fight their way through the heavy snow to listen to Richard Nolte (flute) and Jelena Engelhardt (harp). The foundation was set up by Kurt and Renate Peter to support home care and intensive medical care for children with cancer, after their own daughter died from progressive and incurable cancer.

The music selected for the evening was touching, but not sentimental and the flute and harp proved to be a perfect combination of music and sound. Marcel Tounier’s (1879–1951) “Deux Préludes Romantiques” was characterized by a calm, flowing, tender and muted flute sound and rich harmonies from the harp, altogether a very sensual, yearning interplay of chords and melodies.

Claude Debussy’s “La fille aux cheveux de lin” positively breathed emotion. The lower flute tones gently embraced the audience and caressed their ears. J.B. Krumholtz’s (1745–1790) Sonata for Flute and Harp was the epitome of elegance. The interplay of flute and harp developed into a web of pearls and silver threads, and his Allegro, Romance and Minuet exuded a cheerful serenity – even an involuntary da capo due to some misplaced notes did not break the mood: one could just sit back and enjoy it.

After a dramatic beginning, the Larghetto from Gaetano Donizetti’s (1797–1848) “Sonata for Flute and Harp” developed into a swaying melody over broken harp chords, the motifs and mood woven tightly between the two instruments. The Allegro of this sonata turned out to be a joyfully dancing dalliance, fragrant, humorous and lively.

The beginning of the “Sonata for Flute and Harp” by Nino Rota (1911–1979) was rather impressionistic. Without a harmonic center, the piece nevertheless swung with a rapturous singing over the surging sound fields of the harp.

“The Swan” from Camille Saint-Saens’ (1835–1921) “Carnival of the Animals” was enchanting, almost magical: the noble animal floated quietly through the soft moonlight, while “Entr’acte” by Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) became enraptured in childlike joy in the play of motives, changing meters and accentual shifts.

Together with the slide show in the background portraying Valentina’s life, the music developed a special intensity. It captured her life in all its facets, while at the same time representing those of many others. Renate Peter was not concerned by the fact that so few listeners were able to make it through the snow. For Valentina, she said, winter was the most beautiful season and she herself would have enjoyed the snow outside the most.

Richard Nolte and Jelena Engelhardt requested that their fee for the evening be donated to the Valentina Foundation. (Photo: Johannes Rahn / article: Schwäbische Zeitung)