Freiburger Barockorchester, © Foppe Schut

A desire for something new 

The Freiburger Barockorchester comes to Klosters Music for the first time 

The drumbeats instil fear. You don’t want to go face this winter. But something lovely soon emerges through the surface of the ice: a brief ray of sunshine in the transverse flutes, a luminous melody in the oboe. This is how the Freiburger Barockorchester introduces spring in Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons which has been recorded by the Freiburger Barockorchester together with the RIAS Chamber Choir under the direction of René Jacobs. Energy and vividness not only characterise this recording but also characterise the orchestra’s numerous live performances. The Freiburgers give up to 100 concerts a year. An annual concert series in Freiburg, Stuttgart and Berlin offers its loyal audience repertoire highlights, but also many discoveries. The orchestra gives guest performances in the USA, South America, Australia, Japan, China and, of course, Europe, and plays at the most renowned festivals such as the Salzburg Festival or the international music festival in Aix-en-Provence. 

It’s always about everything 

All the same, the ensemble still seems fresh even after 35 years since its founding – there is no sign of routine. There is always a dance-like moment in the orchestra’s playing. The musicians move and play with their whole bodies. They only work with a conductor on large-scale projects. Otherwise, the concertmaster leads the orchestra. The 31 members of the orchestra are not permanently employed, but are paid on a daily basis and, as partners, also bear the financial responsibility for the ensemble. That’s why it’s always about everything – and you can see that in the committed playing of each individual. The quality must be proven again and again. 

Romanticism also in the repertoire 

The Freiburger Barockorchester has long since expanded its repertoire into the classical and romantic periods, as with the very recent romantic opera Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber. Contemporary music has also been interpreted by the top ensemble. For its debut at Klosters Music, however, the orchestra will present a purely Baroque programme. “We always play baroque repertoire standing up and without a conductor. This simply thrives on the exchange between the musicians, on the lively language of sound!”, says Gottfried von der Goltz, who is the artistic director together with the pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, who specialises in historical keyboard instruments. 

Experimental foundation phase 

The 57-year-old violinist, professor of baroque violin at the Freiburger Musikhochschule, was one of the founding members of the ensemble in 1987. It was Rainer Kussmaul’s violin class with talented, interested students such as Thomas Hengelbrock and Petra Müllejans, in which they also experimented with baroque instruments. The idea of founding an orchestra then came from the students themselves. At the age of 21, Gottfried von der Goltz already had a permanent position in the NDR Sinfonieorchester, which he gave up for the adventure of the Freiburger Barockorchestr. “We all simply felt like trying something new. There was something in the air – Concerto Köln and other free ensembles were also founded at that time, after all.”

Responsibility for the musical whole 

And what has changed since then? Certainly, the management has become more professional and has gained a good international reputation. “We have also become much more experienced in repertoire knowledge. In the beginning, it was all about baroque music as a whole. In the meantime, we also know the stylistic diversity of this epoch. The music of Francesco Geminiani, for example, from whom we are presenting the Concerto Grosso La Follia in Klosters, we play with a lot of vibrato. Bach’s phrasing, on the other hand, is much leaner,” says von der Goltz, who will conduct the concert in Klosters from the concertmaster’s podium. What has remained from the early years is the curiosity and also the argumentativeness in the rehearsals. Everyone takes responsibility for the musical whole. Today, the Freiburger Barockorchester (FBO) is one of the world’s leading ensembles of historical performance practice. 

“Musical precision and overwhelming joy of playing”.

The orchestra regularly works with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Pablo Heras-Casado and René Jacobs as well as well-known soloists (Isabelle Faust, Philippe Jaroussky, Christian Gerhaher) and also occasionally sits in the orchestra pit for major opera productions. Now the renowned label Deutsche Grammophon has announced a long-term collaboration with the FBO. “I know of no orchestra of historically informed performance practice that even comes close to the Freiburger Barockorchester in its consistently high quality of innovative programming, musical precision and overwhelming joy of playing since its founding in 1987,” enthuses Andreas Kluge, Senior Manager Artist Promotion at Universal Music. So you can look forward to an exciting, all-embracing concert evening at Klosters Music.   

You can experience the Freiburger Barockorchester live at Klosters Music on 31 July. Tickets can be purchased here.