Maximilian Hornung at the Munich Violin Days – Munich

A real challenge is playing three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous suites on 16 different cellos, instruments built by violin makers from Munich and the surrounding area. In addition to violins and violas, they are currently being presented at the 7th Munich Violin Days in the Mars-Venus-Saal in the Bavarian National Museum under the magnificently vital bronze group of gods of war and goddess of love, which the Flemish sculptor Hubert Gerhard created in 1589/90. 32 violin makers and bow makers exhibit their work there and the interested public can also try out the violins, violas, cellos and bows. Incidentally, after Cremona, Munich has the highest density of violin makers in the world. No wonder, then, that Anne Sophie Mutter has taken over the patronage, as she did in 2019.

The excellent cello professor Maximilian Hornung accepted the sporting challenge and played the different instruments so confidently, responsively and musically interesting that it was doubly exciting. On the one hand, how he got along with the sometimes rather light-tenoral, sometimes rather dark-baritone-sounding cellos and after a few bars subdued them to his very own sound ideas, and on the other hand how he designed the Bach suites. The legendary French virtuoso and teacher André Navarra scoffed that there was only one real cello suite by Bach, the fourth, because the first three were too easy, the fifth actually for a lute and the sixth for a five-string cello. But Maximilian Hornung showed with his great tour de force over 16 instruments in the 18 movements of Suites 1 to 3 how much cellistic security and bravura is necessary to bring Bach’s music to life. It was fabulous how Hornung immediately mastered the different scales, corrected the intonation at lightning speed and breathed real sound life into every instrument. And that too in each suite with a different bow: respect and huge applause!

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