Weathering the storm

Lahav Shani piloted the Berliners through the New Year's Eve concert. Now he’s back in Baden-Baden

In order to save the New Year's Eve concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Lahav Shani took over conducting duties last year at the Berlin Philharmonie at short notice. For the young artist this was jumping in at the deep end – and for the orchestra, the saving wind that it permitted it to sail.

With his program in the Festspielhaus on February 19, 2022, Shani will once again prove that he is unfazed by water and wind: together with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, he will capture the calm of the sea in Mendelssohn's Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage), based on Goethe's poems of the same name, along with Mendelssohn's “Scottish” Symphony as powerful storms roar through the Festspielhaus hall.

Shani will be featuring both as conductor and soloist at the piano. He already impressed audiences in this double role at his 2019 debut on the Festspielhaus stage. In the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, he will lull listeners into a romantic mood on the gentle waves of the siciliano rhythm. The concerto is one of Mozart's most beautiful works.

In the role of conductor, he and his orchestra will embark on a journey through both still and stormy waters as an exciting adventure is in store.

In Meeresstille the skipper sits waiting in his boat. There is neither wind blowing across the sea nor wave beating against the prow – the ship is standing as still as the sea itself. This is unbearable for the skipper, but for the listener the first half of Mendelssohn's work has a soothing, almost trance-like effect. As time passes, a light breeze picks up. The skipper starts feeling anticipation and enthusiasm. The time is approaching when he can set sail and harness the power of nature. The gentle breeze turns into a wind, and the skipper is finally able to set his boat in motion. Anticipation turns to pure joy as he can at last follow the currents of the sea once more.

In his “Scottish” Symphony Mendelssohn conjures up cold northern winds, rain lashing through the air, gathering billows of fog, and thunder rumbling through the concert hall. In the work, however, he not only portrays the wild storms of Scotland, but also the impressive scenery and his own personal impressions of the country that he traveled to with a friend in 1829.

With their program on February 19, 2022, Lahav Shani and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra will take us on a long journey to the far north and the warm south, offering us a wealth of vivid musical pictures.