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‘GEORGE ENESCU’ PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA CHOIR – Director: GENNADY ROZHDESTVENSKY – Palace Hall

On Saturday evening the venerable maestro Genaddy Rozhdestvensky succeeded in bringing back to the concertgoers’ ears – by means of an almost severe gesture, but of an unmatched precision and plasticity – the old times’ sound, specific to ‘George Enescu’ Philharmonic Orchestra: homogenous, stylish, expressive and full of light and shade. Both the orchestra and the Choir – trained by Iosif Ion Prunner – answered to the suggesstions of this true aristocrat of the baton, not only promptly, but also with obvious joy for singing, surpassing the limits of routine. That is why each piece had its glamour and personality.

Less diverse about shades and rhythmical-dynamic contrasts, the music of the Poem Vox Maris, op.31 by George Enescu left the impression of a stagnant sea, rather calm than ‘disturbed’, as the composer imagined it. Even in the moments of transcendence, the sound of the orchestra had a marmoreal consistency, I could say. On the other hand, the progressive artistical dosing of the crescendos, the extravert or diaphanous interventions of the choir, the acute passages of the tenor voice and the shrill of the soprano created a welcome intensity game, thus avoiding tediousness.

The exuberance, with unexpected tempo changes, the agogic, the rhythm, expressivity, the scores of Concert no. 1 for piano and orchestra (1911-1912) by Sergei Prokofiev benefited by the fascinating performing of Victoria Postnikova: poetical, imaginative, subtle, but also energetic, self-assured and confident about the authenticity of conveying the intrinsic meaning of the music. The arpeggios and the rhythmical-harmonic formulas, as well as the bravery and pianistic vigour passages in extreme parts – Allegro brioso and Allegro scherzando – succeeded in volatile polishing, as if they were not touched by human hands, while the cantabile of the Andante assai had the consistency of spiritual essence captured in sounds. The impression was prolongued with the piece ‘Sounds of autumn’ by Tchaikovsky, offered as an encore.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky proved to be a perspicacous, empathetic accompanist, precisely noticing the soloist’s intentions – which was well worth demonstrated in the last piece of the programme; the oratory ‘Ivan the Terrible’, op. 116, for narrator, mezzosoprano, baritone, mixed choir, children’s choir and orchestra, also written by Prokofiev, initially (1942-1945) as music for the film by the same title by Eisensstein. The author uses here almost all ‘directions’ that he recognizes as being specific to his composing style: ‘resourcefulness, the propellent element, the lyricism and the grotesque’. Out of their interwining, Porkofiev builds a gigantic fresco of the bloody history of the first Muscovite prince, Ivan IV (1530-1584), self-entitled ‘tsar’.

Along with the harmonic-melodic resourcefulness and the lush orchestration, along with the propellence present from the first beats, then endowed with the role of a laitmotiv, along with the irony and the grotesque of the moments when he parodies the arogance and megalomania of the tsar, along with the lyricism of Russian popular songs – heard both from the choir and orchestra, always oposing the dramatic parts -, Prokofiev inserts a series of polyphonic sequences, and others reminding of the stacatto rhythm of ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff. Not once the choral writing offers the assembly the echo of the famous Cossack choirs upon the river Don and also a liturgical tint, when the divine judgement is conjured.

With an accomplished art, Ghennady Rozhdestvensky mentained all these composite segments in a perfectly logical, harmonious balance, getting involved, with an actor’s talent and humour, by taking turns with narrator Igor Chernevich, even in uttering the sentences destined to the tsar. The well-timbred voice and the intelligent phrasing of the mezzosoprano Larissa Diadkova, the voice of the baritone Alexei Tanovitski, impressive by volume and plasticity of the phrasing – although his apparition was short lived, at the end of the oratory – , the musicality and faultless diction of the Philharmonic Choir, as well as the accuracy of the Radio children’s choir, trained by Voicu Popescu, have contributed to the full success of the concert conducted with an aristocratic authority by Ghennady Rozhdestvensky on the evening of the 10th September.

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