Now That WAS Brilliant . . . and We Know It

Here’s Debbie, back with another theatre review.

Of the top 10 things to do in Vienna, attending a classical concert in a church that dates back hundreds of years is high on the list.

As fortune would have it, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was advertised at the Karlskirche during the time we were in Vienna. Serendipitously, Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) was a mere five blocks from our rental apartment. Once again, we scurried for tickets, laying out 25 Euro, or about $36.00 each for the most affordable seats which we felt was most adequate given our collective lack of musical ability. We picture beautiful strains of music in a grand cathedral with a large and knowledgeable audience.

Again, we eat supper early for our big night out. It is a dark, cold, rainy evening. Once again, we arrive early to get the best of the poorest seats. We enter through the magnificent marble entry into a gorgeous, stately, white and gold domed cathedral with ornate and intricate paintings on the walls and dome ceilings. We find our seats in the pews in the front of the back section. The cathedral fills up with a majority of locals (some dressed very well for a classy evening out) and a few tourists.

The 10 musicians and one vocalist entered the front alter area and, precisely on time, the concert began. For one and a quarter hours, beautiful notes swirled around the cathedral, some energetic and some slow and soothing, I suspect to reflect the emotions of the four seasons. Now, let’s be honest – none of our party could really identify Bach from Beethoven from Mozart from Vivaldi. And none of our party could really identify if the musicians were ‘tight’ in their performance. But we do know that, to us, this concert was perfect. On a cold, rainy night in Vienna, we were all together, in an amazing cathedral, listening to classical music, feeling soothed and peaceful.

We exited the cathedral with clarity of mind – there was no doubt after this concert. It was brilliant!
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Do you think they are tight enough – or is that why Tex is napping?

Vienna is a grand city – it has wide boulevards, ornate architecture and concert venues on practically every corner.

Skies were grey this morning but that didn’t put a damper on our plans. We spent the morning following the Rick Steve’s walking tour of central Vienna. It started at the Opera House, where we admired the Neo-Renaissance exterior.
20131012-205807.jpgAcross the street from the Opera House is the venerable Cafe Sacher, where Vienna’s famous Sacher torte was invented. We have heard however that a better version can be found elsewhere, so we didn’t stop in.
20131012-210320.jpgNext we passed Albertinaplatz, where the Albertina Museum is located. We spent time at the Monument Against War and Fascism. This monument, commemorating the years when Austria was under Nazi rule, has four parts. The Gates of Violence remembers victims of all war and violence. The split in the stone depicts the gates of a concentration camp and the statuary is a montage of wartime clubs, gas masks, a dying woman giving birth to a future soldier, and chained slave labourers.
20131012-210952.jpgNext you see a hunched-over figure on the pavement, representing a Jew forced to clean anti-Nazi graffiti off a sidewalk with a toothbrush.
20131012-211054.jpg A statue of Orpheus entering the underworld reminds all of the victims of Nazism and the on-going vigilance of our governments that we must exert. Finally a large stone has the 1945 declaration that established Austria’s second republic etched on it.
20131012-212351.jpgThe area where the monument stands is very meaningful, as during a WWII bombing attack, several hundred people were buried alive when the cellar they took shelter in collapsed.
20131012-212640.jpg We continued down Karntner Strasse, a wide boulevard once the home to the elegant Viennese shops, now a pedestrian mall filled with tourists and street performers.
20131012-213116.jpg At the end of Karntner Strasse is Stephansplatz, filled with the grandeur of St.Stephen’s Cathedral and numerous hawkers dressed in robes trying to tempt tourists with concert and tour tickets. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a massive Gothic church dating from 1300 – 1450 and is at the geographic centre of Vienna.
20131012-213703.jpgWe followed the walking tour route past the Holy Trinity plague column and St. Peter’s church, both built in gratitude for saving Leopold I from the 1679 plague.
20131012-214446.jpg It was now time for a break and we veered off the route to a side street where we happened upon the Backerei Arthur Grimm where we thoroughly enjoyed refreshments.
20131012-215137.jpg Back on the tour route, we strolled down Kohlmarkt, Vienna’s most elegant and unaffordable shopping street. Here you could find most any designer. We stopped in for a peek at the cakes and other delicacies at Demel, the ultimate Viennese chocolate shop.
20131012-215301.jpgKohlmarkt ends at Michaelerplatz, which is dominated by the gates of the Hofburg Palace.
20131012-215448.jpg We wandered through the Palace grounds and gardens, marvelling at the architecture and statuary.
20131012-220216.jpgRick’s tour ended here, but we continued our walk. It now started to rain so out came the umbrellas and we enjoyed walking in the rain. We passed the Parliament Buildings, City Hall and other grand buildings along the Ringstrasse.

Time for another break and we stopped at another venerable Viennese cafe – McCafe! No photos of the fare we sampled here.

We made our way home for our afternoon break and then headed out for an early dinner as we had evening plans!! We are needing a bit of a break from the heavy meals we have been focusing on, so it was off to an Italian restaurant. The fare of Calzone, gnocchi, spaghetti and lamb chops was excellent.
20131012-220619.jpgWe had some time to spare so stopped in at an event we had noticed on our morning walk – Container Art. Here some avant-garde artists (Deb suggested somewhat tortured) displayed their creations in shipping containers. In the centre was a large globe tent; we wandered in and witnessed a couple of visual presentations displayed in 360 on the inside of the globe. It was all very interesting, albeit a bit “out-there” for our tastes, and we were glad we had stopped in.

Our main event was a concert at Karlskirche (St. Charles’ Church). Many months ago while planning this trip, I had found this concert listing, but had not purchased tickets. On our arrival in Vienna, it was pleasing to find that the church is within blocks of our vrbo and we stopped in this morning and purchased tickets.

Karlskirche, dedicated in 1713 and completed in 1737, is said to offer the best Baroque architecture in Vienna. It’s elegance is evident on both the exterior and interior and was such a wonderful venue for our foray into classical music.

The presentation was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and was performed by Ensemble 1756 on period instruments. Four Seasons is a favorite of mine, primarily because many of my favorite figure skaters have skated to selections from this composition. We all enjoyed the performance, although we certainly are not experienced in this type of concert. It seemed almost surreal to be hearing live classical music, performed in a 300 year old church in the grand city of Venice!
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Cheers,

B,H,D&L