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Journey to the Centre of the Self with Bach and Alexandru Tomescu

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 , ora 8.47
In 2010, I attended a classical music concert that was held in the Saint André Cathedral located in the central area of Bordeaux. The place of worship was full to the brim, and the audience was motionless throughout the concert, in order to listen to it in its entirety. I wondered back then if such a thing would ever be possible in Romania - for there to be a concert where everyone would listen to the music religiously, almost breathlessly. Lo and behold, my question was answered, after nearly three years, on this very Friday, during the first recital at the 2013 edition of the Stradivarius National Tour, subtitled 'Bach to Basics', performed by violinist Alexandru Tomescu.

As the title suggests, this year the project brought forward music written by Bach - more specifically, the Complete Sonatas and Partitascreated by the great German composer. There was no doubt in my mind that after two consecutive years of performing challenging Complete Works, Alexandru would come up with another surprise for his audience, and when I heard he had prepared Bach, I must confess that I was filled with expectations for this event. The programme is very demanding both technically and emotionally, not only for the musician, but also for the audience.

The event in Brașov was a resounding success. The public began streaming into the Roman Catholic Cathedral as early as an hour before the concert, in order to secure a seat. But there were more than a few who stood for the duration of the recital - which lasted more than two hours. Even the children stood still in the first row, mesmerized.

The show was syncretic, as we have come to expect from Alexandru Tomescu's performances over the past few years. Only this time, the other component was a light show which created a different atmosphere for each work. In the same fashion as a theme with variations, the light show had a constant - a spotlight fixed on the violinist - and variables: the lights at the back and to the sides, which projected a variety of colours on the cathedral's walls. I found the blending of the lights with the music to be very interesting, and well suited to the music of Bach. The lights projected several shadows of Alexandru on the walls - it was as if the violinist had divided into a quartet of shadows - each with its own violin, each playing a single theme on one voice; they all flowed from Alexandru and then fused with him. So I experienced a plethora of emotions, following the melody which seemed to be reflected in the hall as in a thousand mirrors.

In the words of the artist's official biography: 'Alexandru Tomescu has proven that he is able to tame any musical form'. The phrase is on point, as this was precisely what I felt during the show on Friday: Alexandru Tomescu was in control of the melody, commanding each voice in the score, sometimes letting the sound of the superb Elder-Voicu Stradivarius rise up to the dome of the cathedral, and sometimes holding it back in subtle hues.

It was a magnificent spectacle, a true spiritual journey within our own selves, leaving us purified at the end. This was also reflected in the donations that Alexandru Tomescu asked of the audience for the Hope and Homes for Children Foundation Romania - to which the tour was dedicated. The people in Brașov were very generous and they donated more than 1000 euros to support the cause of children under state care.

It is clear that the Stradivarius Tour is on the right track and I urge you to not miss the recital in Bucharest to be held on 29th May. Entrance is free, but if you want to secure a seat, you will have to come to the venue a lot earlier. You can find additional information and the full details of the event on www.turneulstradivarius.ro.

Petra Gherasim
Translated by Șerban Dudău and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest