Des Menschen Seele Gleicht dem Wasser

Des Menschen Seele Gleicht dem Wasser sums up the human soul. But Beethoven’s music and more of Goethe’s poetry made ours bubble.

The venue was the same, but this time the poetry recital was in German. This did not prevent Branoul Theatre to be completely sold out. Everybody had obtained tickets well in advance. Still people showed up anyway, hoping others would not so they could get reserved seats once any would become available.

Previous Salon Branoul evenings had focussed on a variety of topics. We had been treated to various poets, ranging from the Beat Poets, Leonard Cohen, to poetry from the Great War and “Flanders’ Fields”. This time, the recital would focus on Goethe.

A few of the regulars who usually attend these literary events with me, were not there. They had been uncertain about their command of German. They had been afraid it wouldn’t be good enough to understand the poetry. Wrong decision!

Seated at a table as if in a friendly German Kneipe, actor David Jentgens recited the selected poems with clear diction, feeling and often humourous. He ensured he spoke never so fast his audience might have had trouble understanding the poem. Anybody with some smattering of German would have had no problem grasping the meaning of each poem or poetry excerpt. Many of the selected poems also belonged to Goethe’s best known ones, like “An den Mond”, “Kennst du das Land” and others.

This evening, the NEU quartet consisted of Rada Ovcharova, Eduardo Parades Crespo, Emlyn Stam and Willem Stam. They had settled on Ludwig von Beethoven’s quartet opus 135. The four parts mirrored the selected Goethe poems and excerpts in spirit and execution.

The combination of this music and David Jentgens’ recital and interpretation, made one of my friends dab her eyes several times. She was not the only member in the audience. Afterwards, she also confessed that quite a few lines had given her goose pimples – it was that good! She was not the only one being bowled over by the music and poetry. It is to be hoped, that the new season starting in September, will not only contain English recitals but continue with the occasional German and French one as well.

David Jentgens started with the well-known “Kennst du“, after which the NEUE members performed the Allegretto of Beethoven’s quartet. The rest of the recital included ofcourse parts of Goethe’s Faust, as well as Rastlose Liebe, ein Gleiches, Gesang der Geister, Frühzeitiger Frühling, das Göttliche, Nähe des Geliebten, An den Mond and after the last part of Beethoven’s quartet, Der schwer gefasste Entschuld, Muss es sein? – Es Muss sein!

This was the last literary salon of the theatre season 2014 – 2015. Howver, the New European Ensemble will not be on holiday till the end of August. If you’re visiting The Hague this summer, you can attend their annual set of garden concerts. These concerts take place in a secluded garden in the centre of town and are totally free. Should the weather not cooperate, the ensemble performs indoors. For more information, visit the ensemble’s website or check the website calendar of the culture-venue Nutshuis. No, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be locked up. In Dutch this word is apparently related to charitable. The building used to be a bank, but now is a cultural and charitable venue. The concerts take place in its garden.

Saturday 27th of June for instance, the NEUE will perform “A Tango, A Raga and Flower Pots”. Saturday 4th of July, there will be a free concert focussing on Independence Day and 29th of August there is a “Starry Night” concert where the music will have a link to Vincent van Gogh. All these garden concerts start at 15:30 and for all dates, visit the websites mentioned above.

David Jentgens German recital of selected poems by Goethe
Rada Ovcharova violin
Eduardo Paredes Crespo violin
Emlyn Stam violin
Willem Stam cello



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