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Alexandru Tomescu, at the End of the 'Bach to Basics' Stradivarius Tour

Thursday, 6 June 2013 , ora 10.32
'Bach to Basics' was the name of violinist Alexandru Tomescu's tour which lasted between 10th -29th May, 2013. The Elder-Voicu Stradivarius violin was played in twelve churches from an equal number of cities across the country, in the context of a new syncretic performance: this year, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach were performed by the musician in combination with a lighting design show specially conceived to bring out the particular 'light' in every musical work. Stradivarius 'Bach to Basics' completed the triad of syncretic performances held by Alexandru Tomescu since 2011. The sixth edition of the Stradivarius Tour presented an open invitation to the public to explore their own spiritual sides, through the filter of the serene music created by Johann Sebastian Bach. The cities where the tour made a stop in 2013 were Brașov, Târgu Mureș, Cluj-Napoca, Baia Mare, Oradea, Timișoara, Dumbrăveni, Iași, Bacău, Constanța, Pitești, and Bucharest. We invite you to find out more from the following interview with the star of the tour, violinist Alexandru Tomescu.

The 2013 edition of the Stradivarius Tour has come to an end. What did 'Bach to Basics' mean to you?

It was an exhilarating experience, first and foremost musically, the opportunity to present to a huge audience - one could say even overwhelming by virtue of sheer numbers - one of the musical works which I hold closest to my heart, the Complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. A true musical marathon with a duration of more than two and a half hours, which managed to leave thousand of people across the country breathless. This tour wasn't all about music, it also had a charitable aspect. Entrance was free to all the concerts and I urged the audience to open up their hearts and thoughts to the orphan children left in the care of the Hopes and Homes for Children Foundation Romania. The results were spectacular in my opinion, because throughout the 12 concerts we managed to raise a grand total of no more, no less, than 57.749 RON - or good thoughts - whichever way you prefer to call them.

You received rounds of applause from more than 20.000 people in the cities you visited. In which city did you establish the strongest connection with the audience and which one of the cathedrals impressed you the most?

It's true that no two locations were the same, but I find it hard to pinpoint one in particular, because Bach's music managed to create that particular state of spirituality, of communion, everywhere we went. Music is one of the few inventions of humankind which possesses this gift, the ability to bring us together and speak directly to our sensibilities, without the aid of any external elements.

The programme was a very demanding one, what was the evolution of the performances from the beginning to the end of the tour?

I hope it went from good to better. It was certainly quite the experience for me, not only from a physical standpoint because of the long duration of the concerts, but also spiritually, because it's one thing to play a Sonata by Bach, then a Partita and maybe a Ciaconna, and something completely different to have all of them grouped together and perform them in front of an audience one after the other, with no breaks in-between. Suddenly, you gain an overarching perspective of the ensemble of musical works, which is a rare experience. To me, this translated into great spiritual progress first and foremost, and of course, a musical evolution.

After you held the final concert in Bucharest, you didn't go on vacation, instead you completed a series of recordings. How did that go?

Yes, I wanted to keep the tradition I had begun three years ago after the edition in 2011, with Paganini's Caprices, and I wanted to take the concert performance mental state, with the energy built up during the shows, and put that into a recording of the highest possible quality. Jacob Händel is much more than an exceptional sound engineer who received a Grammy Award, he is also a close friend. I believe this close relationship we have developed is paramount to creating a successful recording, because the person behind the microphone has to understand you better than anyone else, to resonate with you and know how to establish lines of communication. It was a true delight, and much more demanding than the concerts themselves, but I dare say it was a task completed successfully. I can't wait to listen to the first few tracks on the disc.

Although we are still under the spell of the 'Bach to Basics' Stradivarius Tour, we have to wonder, have you considered any ideas for the tour next year?

I have enough ideas for another twenty tours. It will all come down to having the means to put them in practice.

Andreea Chiselev
Translated by Șerban Dudău and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest