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A Brahms night and a true performer

Friday, 29 January 2016 , ora 9.00
The most recent concerts from January have proposed, at the Harmonium of Bucharest, songs by Brahms, which were the main attraction, especially for the music lovers, but the conductor Cristian Macelaru from... America has chosen to play, in the first part of the show, written pieces for the choir and orchestra - Nanie and Schicksalslied - enclosing the well known Rhapsody for alto, male choir and orchestra, but gaining also the excellent performance offered by the great mezzo-soprano singer Aura Twarowska (from Staatsoper Venice), a delicate singer, with a phrasing and an expressive charge perfectly balanced and fit for the text which was cited impeccably; her strong elegant voice brought an additional plus of beauty when citing the vocal score, pointing also the meditative tint, but also the praying atmosphere in the end.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the choir (led by Iosif-Ion Prunner), who had a correct performance but monotone as expression, without any clear difference between the scores. Composing the development of the scores as they were sections of a single creation, the conductor probably wanted to ensure somehow a unity and a continuity of a single creation in these lines, thing that led to the presence of the female singer on the stage, even though she had nothing to sing, but also led towards a rout of the audience, who would have wanted to clap at the end of the Rhapsody but... the Chorales piece followed, so the voice performance of Aura Twarowska was rewarded only after the finale of the first part of the show, when she was already accompanied about the two conductors.

The fact that the guest conductor precisely led, approaching and pointing out themes and instrumental interferences, coordinating with strictness the choir-orchestra-singer relationship, he distinguished himself immediately, but what shocked me the most was the lack of interest for the "key note" of the phrase, for the involvement and for the requirement of an expressive color, the conductor feeling himself right only in the fast moments of the song, letting the rest to flow in an amorphous way. I honestly do not think that the listener is interested in finding out the intern structure of a score, but, in the first place, he wants to be conquered or even wants to be impressed with the feeling and the living experience of that music, which will deliver "something".

I also had the same feeling when I listened to Symphony no. 1, which was equally common, the only difference being the forte-piano alternation, I was waiting in vain for the profoundness, monumentality, amplitude and grave introspection to be heard, characteristics which were conductor-specific; however the orchestra sang rather regular, replying to the conductor's requests (which were few...), too few solos had conspicuousness and warmth, some being rather... lame, with mistakes and "off-key" play, everything developed "backwards" and the feeling of disappointment increased little by little.

Surprisingly, the hall was not full, thing which happens rather rarely at Ateneu, the public remained indifferent until the end of the show, obediently clapping, they probably sensed "something" was missing - the thing that was missing was the sensibility, the interior vibration and the ability to reproduce the ideal fortune of the song, to lead them towards the climax - more precisely... the true performance was missing. It was a pity...

The conductor is presented as a regular guest at the Harmonium of Bucharest, who has been working with several orchestras from America and from Europe, but not highly known orchestras, he has recently won awards at profile competitions, he was eager to affirm and to promote himself as much as he could, he is probably helped by a capable manager. Funny that... some people around here really appreciate him and invite him again and again to perform at ensembles from Bucharest. It is well known that the American orchestras sing with precision, with or without conductors, the sound accuracy being the main concern for them, the one who conducts only adds expressiveness to an extent to relate to the structure of each one. In our country, the music lovers want more...

Anca Florea
Translated by Alina Deacu
MTTLC, University of Bucharest, 2nd year