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Interview with conductor Gabriel Bebeșelea

Wednesday, 11 October 2023 , ora 9.55

The second symphonic programme of the 2023-2024 season of the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra brings Gabriel Bebeșelea, the ensemble's principal conductor, to lead the orchestra. About the concerts on Thursday, October 12th and Friday, October 13th, at the Romanian Athenaeum - a dialogue with Ioana Țintea.

Mr. Gabriel Bebeșelea, what does it mean to you to be the principal conductor of the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and how do you describe the reunion with the musicians every time you lead the ensemble?

For me it is a great joy when I return to the Romanian Athenaeum because each time we make a musical connection and discover new sounds. Every time, I am pleased that everyone is happy to realize new types of concerts, new concepts and new pieces that I have tried in each of my concerts at the Athenaeum to include in the program of that week.

I would like to turn our attention to the programme you will conduct on Thursday October 12th and Friday October 13th at the Romanian Athenaeum. In the first part of the evening, the guest is flutist Ion Bogdan Ștefănescu in George Enescu's Cantabile and Presto for flute and piano, with orchestration by Valentin Doni, and the Concerto for flute and orchestra by Jacques Ibert. What are the attributes of this combination of works?

George Enescu's Cantabile and Presto for flute and piano is a work from his so-called French period. It is typically Parisian music, a fundamental work for the flute repertoire. The connection is direct with Jacques Ibert's Concerto, because Ibert was a continuator of this early 20th century in terms of French music. The two flute works are very attractive in terms of both expressiveness and virtuosity - things that the Bucharest audience will notice once again at the flute player Ion Bogdan Ștefănescu.

The second part of the evening is dedicated to the symphonic poem Thus Said Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. The beginning of the work is one of the most recognisable musical moments of all, thanks to its inclusion in the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. How do you personally explain the popularity of this work?

Actually, this choice of repertoire in the second part of the concert is connected to another concert I did with the George Enescu Philharmonic a few months ago, in the previous season, when we were celebrating Gyorgy Ligeti. In that concert, we performed another piece from the soundtrack of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Athmosphere. In the same concert, we also performed another work that was the basis of the film music, Gustav Holst's Planets. So, a few months later, the circle comes full circle with Kubrick's film debut, Richard Strauss's Thus Said Zarathustra. It's one of the most important symphonic poems in the history of music, and in fact it's a sound description of Nietzsche's philosophical novel, from which it takes its title, and it goes through the main metamorphosing moments of this character in the universal religion, Zarathustra, and in fact through all the concepts that have revolutionised German philosophy since this philosophical novel by Nietzsche.

What is the unifying concept of the entire programme at the Romanian Athenaeum?

The concept is actually George Enescu. It starts from George Enescu, and Richard Strauss wrote this poem when George Enescu was already in Paris, but Enescu's music of that period (we are talking about 1896) was still deeply influenced by his Viennese period, still by the music that Richard Strauss played both in Munich and in Vienna, and with which George Enescu had a lot of connection and from which he drew his inspiration at that time.

After the concerts at the Athenaeum, what's next on your agenda?

There is another concert at the Athenaeum with the Romanian Youth Orchestra, the King's Day concert with tenor Ioan Hotea and mezzo-soprano Martiniana Antonie. Next concerts in Bochum in Germany, in Belfast in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, concerts in the European cultural capital - Timișoara... and then, a whole series of concerts that I will have with my colleagues from the George Enescu Philharmonic.

Interview by Ioana Țintea
Translated by Vlad-Cristian Dinu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu