Rehearsing Franz Danzi in National Philharmony in Warzaw by Thalia Ensemble

It was a great experience to play in the Filharmonia Narodowa w Warszawie (National Philharmony in Warsaw). Under the inspiring title 'Breath turns into music - No strings - No inhibitions' it featured fortepiano quintets with winds by Franz Danzi.

This was the second time Thalia Ensemble performed in Poland, after our 2014 memorable concert. We were very proud to be invited by the organisation of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir. This time we played in one of the top concert halls in Poland.

Fortepianist Mayumi Eguro played on a five and a half octave fortepiano with Viennese action (a copy of a Walter original made by Paul McNulty). This fortepiano was one of the several keyboard instruments used during Danzi's lifetime.

The delicate sound and articulation of the Walter fortepiano suited the music written by Danzi from the beginning. The combination of Franz Danzi
winds and piano are mostly performed today by modern instruments. Despite this, the Thalia Ensemble turned the performance to its original setting. This perspective changed the approach on tuning, practising, rehearsing and performing Danzi's pieces. The present programme was tailored with this ideal in mind.

The first piece in the concert was the Quintet Op.53 in F-major scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and fortepiano. This is a bright and energetic piece with a soloistic role for the fortepiano, which keeps a fluent dialogue with the winds. Danzi was an absolute connaisseur on this ensemble setting. He had been working with woodwinds for a long time. Such experience granted him a position in the Royal Conservatoire of Karlsruhe to raise the local performance level.

The second piece, the wind quintet op.56/3, was written in the years 1819-1820 in Paris and Berlin. Around the turn of the century Paris was the greatest place for music. With a very active music scene backed by the excellent tuition at the Conservatoire. As a result, it pushed music style to evolve, exploring newer ensemble settings. Danzi was one of the first ones to take up the wind quintet. In total he wrote three sets of three wind quintets (op.53, op.67 and op.68). The character of the op.56/3 in F major is lighthearted, with a beautiful second movement and a jolly menuetto and dancy last movement written in Allegretto.

The last piece in the programme exhibited a more serious character and is written in the key of d-minor. It is influenced by the works by W.A.Mozart, whom at that time was widely acknowledged and highly respected. The classic style is combined with few new romantic features. This piece was composed when Danzi was promoted to be the kapelmeister in Stuttgart. 

Due to the enthusiasm of the audience, we offered as an encore the Nocturne from A Midsummer Nights Dream op.61 by Felix Mendelssohn. It displays an amazing musical imagination inspired by William Shakespeare's work. In the middle of Mendelssohn's masterpiece this movement starts calm and has a beautiful nocturnal melody. After a storming middle section it comes back again to the horn solo from the beginning and accompanies the sleeping lovers in the story.

This concert was an opportunity to rediscover Danzi's music in the way he conceived it and how it was performed in his lifetime.