Caterina Grewe Revives Schumann in Mendelssohn-Remise, Berlin

Born to German and Japanese parents in Tokyo, Caterina Grewe started playing the piano when she was only four, or as soon as she ‘could climb the piano stool.’ Later she attended the Royal College of Music in London where she perfected her mastery of the grand musical instrument and was even awarded the prestigious Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Rosebowl Award by HRH The Prince of Wales. On June 1st, and for her first-ever performance in Berlin, Caterina graced Haus Mendelssohn with her mesmerizing performance of Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze or ‘Dances of the League of David’ from her debut album.
In the dim-lit Mendelssohn family exhibition hall, Caterina delicately stationed herself at the Steinway grand piano and broke into Davidsbündlertänze. Regarded as one of the finest examples of piano works of the Romantic era and widely considered as Schumann’s greatest musical achievements, the Opus was composed by the German composer in 1837 and is a group of 18 pieces for piano. Now under the solemn gaze of the Mendelssohn’s family busts, Caterina poured herself into black and white keys, caressing them for the somber notes and punching them passionately for the livelier ones as the audience sat there transfixed between the outbursts and gentle musical glides.
Although Caterina’s performance in the Mendelssohn’s hall was her first-ever musical appearance in the Hauptstadt, she is no stranger to large audiences, as she has performed throughout the UK, continental Europe and Asia as a Steinway Artist. Her former performances in Germany were mostly in Hamburg, and she debuted her album with a performance at Steinway Hall in London. Rubbing shoulders with such musical legends as Lang Lang, Caterina has even appeared on Sir Michael Parkinson’s Parkinson Masterclass on Sky TV. However, despite the musical heights of her career, the 28-year-old is devoid of any pretense. Her interpretation of Schumann’s well-known Davidsbündlertänze and the composer’s lesser-known yet equally moving Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 14 ‘Concert sans orchestre’ is marked with deep sincerity and devotion.
Fully aware of the composer’s troubled psyche and his passion for his wife, Clara Wieck, the artist was able to translate [in her words] the unsettling yet deeply moving ‘Dance.’ She welcomed the attentive audience in with Lebhaft ‘Lively’ piece as the melodies propelled forward, leaping, energizing. The Innig ‘Heartfelt’ immediately struck somber tones, emulating Bach whose work Schumann greatly revered. Mit Humor with its vitality and imagination created a balletic atmosphere, an almost circus-like joy. Ungeduldig ‘Agitated’ evoked turmoil, the Einfach ‘Simple’ spans a simple bass-line, Nicht schnell ‘Not Fast’ followed the breathless Sehr rasch ‘Very Swift’… Caterina quivered, her lips parted for the Frisch ‘Brisk’, a wild, rhythmic dance and carried it on to the vicious Lebhaft. The mesmerized audience looked on as she completed the 18 pieces, bowing into the grand piano striking the final cord and took a moment to break into a deafening ovation. As she gracefully saluted them, she drew her performance to a close by playing Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata, a piano sonata composed by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Caterina’s debut album was released in April on the Spanish label KNS Classical, and her next performance will be in France.

Ida Reihani
The Culture Trip, June 2016