Night Watch

German Romantic music and poetry
A cappella choral works by Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Reger and others
Poetry and prose by Eichendorff, Mörike, Brentano, Heine and Novalis




A Romantic Portrait in Music and Poetry

„With this programme we seek to listen to the beating heart of German Romanticism. There is such wonderful music and poetry from this period. We begin our journey at night, before shining a light on the morning as it turns to day and finally plunging back again into night.“ Thomas Hengelbrock

This programme explores an entire period by means of the works that were written at that time. The familiar and the unfamiliar are brought together here. Unaccompanied choral works by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Reger find a fitting place between poetry and prose by Eichendorff, Heine, Mörike and Novalis. Words and music complement and enrich one another, very much in the spirit of the Romantic idea that the various art forms should interact. The earlier Age of Enlightenment, with its one-sided emphasis on reason had tended to isolate people from their intuitions and emotions. But for the Romantics the arts played an important role: in poetry and music the outlines of an idealistic philosophy were to be experienced in concrete form and communicated in such a way that they could be grasped by the senses. Nature serves as a reflection of the soul, showing us the objects of desire on the part of humankind, broken by urban industrialization, noise and filth. And so the projection screen that always reflects itself reveals motifs associated with the solitude of the forest, with mythical creatures and with lost love. Time and again, however, it is yearning itself that is depicted here.

In terms of its conception the Night Watch programme was the first example of the creative partnership between Johanna Wokalek and Thomas Hengelbrock. With their eye for meticulous detail they have produced a compilation of poems and lieder and of songs and prose writings. And the Balthasar Neumann Choir has again been able to reveal its international standing:

„Can there ever be such a thing as ideal choral singing? A type of singing that combines magnificently colourful sonorities, perfect intonation and a vivid articulation of the words to create the sort of harmony that we might otherwise expect to encounter only in our dreams? Probably not. But Thomas Hengelbrock achieves the unachievable with his Balthasar Neumann Choir. And with this wonderful programme he brings Romantic moonlit nights and longings back into our living rooms, from where domestic music-making had long since disappeared.“ Concerti