In Hamburg, the Elphi celebrates its 5th anniversary


From our special correspondent

From which enchanted land did these luminous elves escape to come and dance around the Elbphilharmonie? Their whimsical ballet, embracing the waves of the Andante from the Piano Concerto by Thomas Adès, will only have charmed the public for one evening, a fleeting tribute to a place which, precisely, magnifies the ephemeral: music. Imagined by the duo of Dutch artists Drift, which restores the mysteries of organic life via technology, this bewitching choreography of 300 drones celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Elbe Philharmonic, nicknamed the Elphi by the Hamburgers. Scheduled for four sessions, the performance (1) was unfortunately limited to one, “unauthorized” drones having disrupted it in a “malicious, even dangerous” way, indicated the management of the Philharmonie. Its long and complex genesis, its budgets “exploded”, some questions about its acoustics, now seem forgotten, so much the Elphi has become an emblem and a pride of the powerful Hanseatic city. Inspired and inspiring, modern and timeless, the building facing the sea by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron changes with the colors of the sky and the water.

It was therefore a question of celebrating its 5th anniversary with dignity – “to tell the truth, we were asked to do so from the first year”, testifies its general intendant Christoph Lieben-Seutter. In addition to Drift’s performance, the International Music Festival, launched on April 28 and running through April 1er June, offers a bouquet of concerts placed under the sign of nature. What more suitable partition to mark the kick-off than Creation by Joseph Haydn? Under the alas somewhat conventional direction of Alan Gilbert, the singers of the NDR Vokalensemble associated with those of the WDR Rundfunkchor appeared particularly poetic, flexible and nuanced.

Built on a former brick warehouse, the Elphi is all whiteness and curves, offering through its large bay windows intoxicating views of the site. Its vast “Plaza” accessible to all (4,400 m2 at 8and floor) has already attracted 15 million visitors since its opening in 2017, the three concert halls having gathered 3.3 million listeners, despite the Covid pandemic. In an opulent city that still resonates with the harmonies of Bach, father and son, Mendelssohn or Brahms (2) – the Philharmonie is spreading its wings and its team is already thinking about the 10th anniversary celebrations…


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