Jos van Immerseel
Who are we when we are listening? Thought on sound, music …
A concert speech
Introduction and speech on the finale of the Berliner Lektionen: Manfred Lahnstein
What we regard as “classical music” lies within the confines of the musical practice of the 19th and 20th centuries. However, up to 80 years ago music sounded very different to the way it does today. Instruments have changed, as have the size of ensembles, impressions of tempo, pitch etc. The Belgian conductor and pianist Jos van Immerseel (*1945) presents works with the orchestra he founded in 1987 Anima Eterna Brugge in the manner in which their composers imagined hearing them. Using historical instruments and the playing practices of the time, aided by knowledge of musical history and instrumental traditions. To regard this as an unworldly specialization would miss the point as instruments from previous ages were not standardized. From age to age, from nation to nation, from maker to maker they sounded very different. And through these differences they influenced the composers. The intention behind this historically aware musical practice is to enable the sound to be heard which the composer was in fact writing for. The results are surprising and new, because the works in these concerts unfold in all their individuality, power and uniqueness. They achieve a richness of colour, a remarkable transparency, a delightful materiality. Since listeners, concert promoters and record labels have noticed this, Jos van Immerseel has been busy in concert halls around the world, either with his orchestra or as a solo pianist. His music-making also raises the question: what characterizes our hearing? Where are we when we are listening? Jos van Immerseel possesses a large collection of valuable historic grand pianos. For the finale of the Berliner Lektionen he will bring three of his instruments onto the stage of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.