> [Archived] Chronicles

Archived : 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 |

Gems of the Festival

Monday, 19 August 2013 , ora 10.52
The chamber music evenings during the Sinaia Festival have brought established and beloved artists, as well as young promising new-comers back to the stage. The idea of "family" music is very enticing and it has become a tradition not just at the Casino but at the Athenaeum, as well, where the same enchanting performers wished to play for the music-lovers of Bucharest. As such, maestro Valentin Gheorghiu has once again taken the stage, partially reiterating the programme previously presented during the "Lanto Communication" theatre season, only bigger and better, much to the delight of the attendees filling the hall. Trio No. 4 Op. 11 by Beethoven was performed by Simina Croitoru on the violin and ªtefan Cazacu on the cello, working together impecabily, radiating the elegance of the composition, the warmth of the sound and the technical brilliance equally in the group segments as well as the solos. After that, the pianist wished to bring his young "keyboard coleague" Mihai Ritivoiu to the spotlight, suggesting a Mozart piece duet followed by Chopin's Polonaise-fantaise Op. 61 and Waltz op. 42 (by coincindence or not, both were in A-flat major), which convinced everyone the he is a fully-realised, confident performer with high technique and more importantly, expresiveness perfectly suited to the famous opuses; his progress is evidently comparable to his previous upgrowths. We then listened to the Romanian Rhapsodies Op. 11 by George Enescu, with the adaptation done by Valentin Gheorghiu in a duet with his wife Roxana Gheorghiu, complementing each other fluently and both having a similar touch, which "gives away" their long shared experience with such feats of teamwork and highlights the well-known colours and rhythms of the orchestra versions, which now seem "a bit different". The Sonatina by Dvorak was sublime. Gabriel Croitoru on the violin and Valentin Gheorghiu on the piano delighted the audience with the beauty of the melodic lines riddled with poetry, languor, brilliant ebullitions or rainbow-hued pages of extraordinary, perhaps evocative finesse, with a touch of folklore to spice it up, all with fine-tuned refinement. In the same dreamy and emotional atmosphere, Après un Rêve by Gabriel Faure, an impressive miniature, was played with lyricism and introspect by Marin Cazacu on the violin and the same Valentin Gheorghiu, with a level of mastery and simplicity that only true artists can infuse their work with, and with… heart. This atmosphere was also enhanced by Rachmaninoff's Trio élégiaque performed by Valentin Gheorghiu with amazing musical liveliness and joy which he has maintained throughout his lifetime. Joining him were Gabriel Croitoru and Marin Cazacu, not just good friends of his, but also accomplished artists who know how to imbue every work with deep and… genuine feeling, excelling at capturing the songs' emotional core and romantic tumult and melding them towards the end into low, almost echoic, keys.

The extended and enthusiastic applause brought forth a surprise encore consisting of Romance by (the same) Rachmaninoff, composed for six piano hands, but arranged by V. Gheorghiu displaying all of the artists from that evening 's concert. The maestro was on the piano along with his wife and Mihai Ritivoiu, with Gabriel Croitoru on the violin together with his daughter Simina and Marin Cazacu and his son ªtefan on the cello. The result was, of course, very pleasing, much to our delight and dismay that... it was over.

The Casino was packed with music lovers the next evening, as well. They were eager to listen to "Romanian Simfonietta", with Horia Andreescu as the conductor, as usual. The orchestra, which had some of its members swapped out, consisted of instrumentalists between the ages of 14 and 25 and it was really impressive, seemingly getting better every year, fraught with a homogenous and light sonority, matching up to the conductor's direction with incredible precision and fluency, despite the fact that many of them are playing in an orchestra for the first time. The overture of the opera The Barber of Seville by Rossini astounded the audience with the filigree of the imagery which shaped every theme and accent with a degree of zest that is rarely heard in more established orchestras. The style was perfect, it was built up with finesse; it had rich content and incredible precision (ignoring the minor gaffes of those on the wind instruments), even if the tempo was very fast and alert. Even during the Concerto Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn, they maintained a level worthy of an international performance, backing

Ioan-Cristina Goicea's violin solo with accuracy and skill. This came as a real surprise (along with the reveal of the solo), as the virtuosa technique this time culminated in a level of expressivity and sensitivity which demonstrates the emotional implication the young lady possessed. She has matured and more importantly she has leant to get across artistic intentions and emotions and to understand and create the atmosphere for the score, all the while working with her fellow ensemble members flawlessly, with no trace of hesitation or uncertainty and all with constant fluency and brilliance. And the fact that maestro Horia Andreescu managed to to teach the "secrets" to such a great performance in just a few days of intense rehearsals was showcased also during Beethoven's 8th Symphony. The form was perfectly balanced, the exchanges and the maneuvering of the themes from one group of instruments to another was similar to a well-choreographed dance routine, everything flowing with a constantly maximum level of eloquence and devotion. Their concentration and ability to comprehend the thoughts behind the scores, their joy and intense feelings all, naturally, added up to the miracle of this extraordinary orchestra, put together by a maestro who proved that that he can be a great teacher too even when working with teenagers, splicing rigor with humor and, most of all, with the science behind making music with passion and dedication.

The next day, in Bușteni, another unanimously acclaimed, both nationally and internationally, ensemble, the Romanian Youth Orchestra (Orchestra Românã de Tineret), delighted and hyped a hall filled to the brim, with a new programme with a lot to offer. As usual, Cristian Mandeal conducted and the piece was Frenesia 2 by Dan Dediu, a complex composition, with incisive rhythms, a subtle surface layer that erupts into a whirl of emotion with slight hints of Romanian folk dance. It was performed absolutely amazingly, which is a clear indication that the players are capable of excellently tackling even such contemporary works. Next up, however, was Brahms' Double Concerto, solemn and romantic at the same time. It was a collaboration between top soloists, Liviu Prunaru on the violin and Marin Cazacu on the cello, including rich solos as well as vibrant exchanges, the orchestra building up both massive and sensitive tones, and well-maintained contrasts in a unitary artistic flow, keeping at all times to the hallmarks of a Brahmsian creation: introspective, sometimes harsh, but with a level of expressivity that shows his inner warmth. After a break, the RYO and maestro Mandeal continued with works by Joseph-Maurice Ravel, inspired by Iberian tunes, such as Spanish Rhapsody, Pavane for a Dead Princess, Alborada del Grazioso, and Boléro, all woven almost seamlessly alternating with spectacular bursts which make the most of the orchestra's unmistakable brilliance, with flawless solos and smooth transitions from one segment to the other. The unusual gesticulation of the conductor suggests a state of immense sensuality and temperament of the dance which insinuates and amasses paroxysmal tension brought to life with the great skill and (once more) devotion of the 100 young instrumentalists whose enthusiasm blends with professionalism in a way that is rarely heard of from orchestras with a higher standing. It is a larger and more divers programme in a "somewhat different" stylistic and expressive manner than the RYO had previously done, but it seems that that they all comfortable with everything having to do with great music, following Cristian Mandeal with almost unreal accuracy and grace, and the maestro let himself get captivated by the beauty of such jewels which certainly are close to him in both structure and inner vibe.

They generated (as well as general) joy and enthusiasm will no doubt be present this evening as well, when the programme will continue at the Sinaia Casino. It's really worth it!...

And at the same time, at the Athenaeum in Bucharest, the "Romanian Simfonietta" Orchestra will enjoy success once again with works by Rossini, Mendelssohn and Beethoven, with Horia Andreescu conducting, as this time the two festivals have something in common because the gifted Marin Cazacu is also involved through his Foundation and Lanto Communication which provide the financial backing so necessary for this projects to be brought into being… and, despite numerous difficulties and obstacles… they will perhaps succeed!

Anca Florea
Translated by Manea Florin and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest