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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Una Bella Serata Of Bach At Santa Caterina


On August 1, 2009 I was one of the lucky people hearing the Bach solo suites for violincello at Santa Caterina. I've recently guest posted about the evening on the Stresa Festival blog, and I'd like to share that post here as well. Please take a look at the festival website for information on upcoming performances and tickets:  http://www.stresafestival.eu/?lang=en

Sunset as we left the Stresa imbarcadero.

(   continued ...   )
Our approach to Santa Caterina.

The 88 stairs we climbed up from the boat.

Under the frescoes, waiting for the concert to begin.

It was still a bit warm and sunny when we arrived at the imbarcadero in Stresa to wait for the ferry that would take us to L’Eremo Santa Caterina del Sasso to hear Colin Carr perform the Bach solo concertos for violincello. But as if on schedule, as we found seats on the ferry, the sun set quickly behind Mt. Mottorone and Mt. Orphano, and the breezes of the lake cooled us down. By the time we reached Santa Caterina the sky was providing a beautiful backdrop for our approach. Everything was perfectly arranged. We had time enough to climb the stone staircase to the abbey, and to enjoy the views as we walked under the archway to the chapel. There was time to admire the frescoes on the ceiling and the fragments of uncovered ones on the walls. After we took our seats on the comfortable gold-painted chairs that had been set up for the occasion Mr. Carr entered and climbed the few steps up to the platform that had been constructed at the altar, high enough so that we all could see him clearly. With all the lights dimmed, save for some small spotlights directed at him, he began to play.

Mr. Carr played Bach’s Suite n.1 and Suite n. 3, for 40 spellbinding minutes. The acoustics in the chapel are perfect. He then took a pause for 20 minutes before finishing the evening with Suite n. 5. By the time we left, the sky was a dark cobalt blue, and the path back to the staircase was lit with dozens of candles that had been placed along the low stone wall. Our ferry awaited, and as we moved quickly back to Stresa through Lago Maggiore, we could see, off in the distance, a fireworks display that was occurring at that time on Lago Mergozzo, some kilometers away.
From sunny start, to spectacular fireworks finish, this was a magical evening in every sense of the word. All of the Stresa Festival musical events are held in very special venues that, each in their own way, evoke this wondrous feeling. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of attending one of these events, I urge you to do so, as soon as you can.

Stresa Festival main Web site: http://www.stresafestival.eu/

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