An evening of glamorous Brahms

18-07-2016 12:22

When friends make music

© Klassiek Centraal

Already heard about the Atelier Marcel Hastir in Brussels? I noticed a while ago that they organize small concerts of magnificent quality. When I got the news that Julien Beurms, a pianist that I already heard playing at the Wichelen Chamber Music Festival would perform there together with his friend cello-player Oded Hadar, I immediately knew that this was something to visit for Klassiek Centraal (


The Belgian pianist Julien Beurms is a very undertaking artist, which is in an enthusiastic way very noticeable in the way he plays the piano. He plays with a great generosity and elegance. He performs solo, but also together with better ensembles in Belgium and abroad. He also is the artistic director of the Brussels Chamber Music Festival. Beurms just recorded his first solo-album, that contains works of Haydn, Schubert, Villa-Lobos and Ginastera. He studied at the Conservatory of Mons (Belgium) and completed his studies at the New England Conservatory of Boston.

That was the place where he met his friend, cellist Oded Hadar. Oded Hadar was born in Tel Aviv in 1988. At the moment, he lives in Boston where he still is professionally linked to the New England Conservatory. He began playing the cello at the age of six. The virus never left his body, a virus that made him play in every corner of the world. In 2008, he got a special distinction of Maestro Zubin Mehta. This gave him the chance to perform solo together with the prestigious Buchmann Mehta Symphony Orchestra. In his country of birth, he was appointed as musician at the service of the army. Next to his work as a devoted musician, it is well known that he is at fantastic ping-pong-player. A remarkable combination.

Both gentlemen found a beautiful setting for playing the first (opus 38 in mi minor) and the second (opus 99 in fa major) sonata of Johannes Brahms. The workplace of the in the meanwhile deceased painter Marcel Hastir (1906-2011) in Brussels, a place filled with elegant timeless women portraits. This gave the audience the chance to escape the present and to travel back in time and even in space. The concert-room had perfect acoustic qualities for chamber music. This was a big surprise to me because when I arrived, I found this little fragile house in the centre of Brussels… that apparently hides the most charming and perfect concert-room. The place is being looked after by a team of art-loving volunteers, supported by the French-speaking community of Brussels.


A trip to the Baden-Baden of Brahms

Music is emotion, a mixture of emotions that one can or can’t experience, and that doesn’t even has to find a place or a meaning, and if it does, it can only be perfect. That is the way that Oded Hadar plays the cello. His genuine grimasses can cut into one’s soul, because he lives the music he plays. That’s the way I heard someone in the audience say it, and I only could agree. Hadar plays in a very sensible, lyrical way. The combination with the very elegant and flowing way that Beurms plays the piano, makes it possible to experience Brahms in a very elegant and even joyful way, with a lyrical and sensitive accent. This was a very new experience, since I always looked at Brahms as being music with a dark accent. And maybe, I was thinking while listening, maybe Brahms just meant it this way, joyful and sensible.


In the past, I visited the Baden-Baden of Brahms several times. I always leave my car some kilometers outside the city to make a nice walk following the Lichtentaler Allee. This is a small road in a beautiful park… where one can hear the water flow. The small flow is completely paved on the bottom. It really is a belle-époque-sensation that one hardly can describe. When entering the city at the end of this road, one can notice the Brahms-house. Last time that I was there, I noticed a copper plate on a house at the very beginning of the road “Clara Schumann stayed here”. Who knows, I was thinking, Brahms was thinking music while walking on this road towards the woman he loved.


This article has been originally published in Dutch on Klassiek Centraal, the most consulted review page on music in the Dutch-speaking area of Europe.

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Veerle Deknopper is active as member of the board and final editor. Being a mother of five and active in Waldorf-education, she specialized in young talent and artistic education.

She wrote a book on Lou Andreas-Salomé and is finishing a book on Parzival and Lohengrin for children.