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Beethoven Festival in Bonn 2012 (III)
The programme: Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, a work on which Herbert Blomstedt commented in an interview before the concert:
"I reckon that people who don't go on a regular basis to church can find the answers to their fundamental needs in this kind of music. I hope this is the message received by the audience. It is not that easy to be understood today, but Beethoven made it pretty clear. He wrote on the first page of the score: My heart to yours - a very personal thought, not just a dogmatic statement."
Herbert Blomstedt stated that Missa Solemnis is a work iniquitously put in the shade.
"I think that a good performance - and I do expect to listen to a good one in Bonn - can change this trend: it is by far the best work of Beethoven, the most personal. Most of the musicians in the orchestra haven't played Missa Solemnis til now; they haven't even listened to it. Besides, The German Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Bremen is famous for the rendering of Beethoven's symphonies. Therefore, I consider the acknowledgement of this work's fair importance a vital task. "
And thoroughly did the Swedish conductor, age 85, succeed to move the audience to tears with a unique performance at the Beethovenhalle. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis sent me a shade of hope: there looms indeed something in this tormented world which seeks answers, in this Europe at the crossroads; there is something which strengthens us; we are united by the same thoughts, ideals, and beliefs and by the same love for music.
Herbert Blomstedt doesn't look his age: he is tall, thin, acting confidently with efficient gestures. There has been 60 years since his activity as a conductor for the world big orchestras and he has been enjoying it without even longing for it.
There must be some solid principles on which such a long and thriving career is built. Which are those?
The conductor is the composer's defender, it is therefore necessary to stick firstly to the score and its truth, to be sure that what is written is also rendered in the tune, with reference not only to the technique but also to the emotional content of the music. This is, without doubt, the first thing to do.
Secondly, we seek to turn the performance into something interesting for the audience, because we play it for them and all music works are dedicated to someone.
We may sometimes come into conflict- one can think that a far better effect could be achieved without a close look at the score or, on the contrary, we don't want to reach effects, but we do it anyway, due to the score itself. This is the thin line to classify a conductor. Some may be the composer's defenders, some look for effects, which isn't a bad thing at all if you ask the audience. If I were to choose between a special performance for the audience and the alienation from the score, I'd prefer to stick to the score and provide for the audience a wonderful experience.
What are your principles as a simple man?
They are the same, I think. My goal isn't to make a success of it but rather to take advantage of life opportunities and of the fact that I'm part of other peoples' lives. I think I am designated to attend others. I don't seek to make a fortune out of it, to become as famous as one could get or as handsome as one could get; I'd rather be useful and a source of inspiration for others.
Herbert Blomstedt is indeed a truthfully source of inspiration - to whom I listened at Beethovenhalle in Bonn, on 14th September.
Beethoven Festival in Bonn continues until October 7th.
Translated by Sorina Cimpoeru
MTTLC, Bucharest University