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Romanian musicians premiere at the ‘’Eufonia’’Festival in Warsaw
The forth edition of Eufonia, the International Music Festival of Central and Eastern Europe is going to take place on Warsaw between 18th-26th of November 2022. The Romanian musical creation has been included in the concerts' programmesince the first edition (George Enescu, Marțian Negrea, Béla Bartók, György Ligeti), and this year the participation of Romanian artists has been recorded for the first time, having Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra coordinated by conductor Gabriel Bebeșelea.
I was glad to be in Warsaw for the first three days of Euforia Festival, answering the invitation received on behalf of Adam Mickiewicz Institute which collaborateswith National Center of Culture, the festival's organizer. This is how it went:
Eufonia Festival is mostly dedicated to musical creations and artist from Central and Eastern European countries, but it also covers a larger sphere, co-opting musicians from Baltic and Scandinavian countries as well. The organizers' desire is to highlight works less known to the Polish public and to promote composers and performers from the afore-mentioned geographical areas. Each edition has a theme, and this year the festival focused on the music of the states that were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also, the festival agenda includes works signed by Ukrainian composers Boris Lyatoshynsky, Valentin Silvestrov, as well as Ivan Taranenko whose work Fusionfonia. Music of the Ukrainian Land is presented in a world premiere. Symphony concerts are hosted in the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw, but events are also held in other spaces, depending on the specifics of the concerts.
The first day of the festival brough Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. Soloist - Jan Lisiecki, the appreciated Canadian pianist of Polish descendent. In terms of conducting, there was Omer Meir Wellber, the Israelian conductor who is the Musical Director of Massimo Theatre in Palermo and Volksoper in Vienna, but also the Artistic Director of Toscanini Festival.
The programme opened with "Dialog mit Mozart - Da capofür orchestra" de Peter Eötvös. Then it followed Concert no. 21 KV 467 in C major for piano and orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, having Jan Lisiecki as soloist. A faultless performance in whichthe 27 year old musician emphasisez his techinque, as well as hisas well as the ability to play the Mozartian score with maturity and balance. Thunderous applausere warded his performance, and Jan Lisiecki delighted the audience with an encore - Nocturna op. 9 no. 2 by Frédéric Chopin. For me it represented the opportunity to notice Lisiecki through the prism of his sensitivity, completely different from how he had been until then, creating a moment of intense emotion, building musical phrases of high sophistication, with a multitude of colors and feelings. The audience listened to him frozen, in absolute silence, effectively with bated breath. Spectators enjoyed even the echo of the last notes, applauding only afterwards.
In the second part, Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony was played, an opportunity to highlight the conductor Omer Meir Wellber (graduate of conducting courses in Mendi Rodan's class). With a special expressiveness, Omer Meir Wellber transforms into an instrument, becomes part of the orchestra, through a perfectly integrated bodily plasticity. It absorbs the music around it, becoming an element of the sound discourse and intensely living every moment. The orchestra sounded magnificent, offering an exceptional interpretation of the symphony, to the satisfaction of the audience who erupted into cheers at the end.
Through a short speech, Omer Meir Wellber informed us that although it is difficult to present anything after Mahler's 5th Symphony, being in charge of the Austrian orchestra prepared for us a moment of delight in pure Viennese style. They were followed by two encores (the "Tritsch-Trasch" and "Thunder and Lightning" Polkas by Johann Strauss-son) performed with great enthusiasm by the musicians who seemed to be only at the beginning of the evening. A concert finale that exceeded the expectations of the completely unleashed audience, creating an incendiary atmosphere. Omer Meir Wellber put an end to the programme when he left the stage with his tail coatover one shoulder.
On Saturday evening, the concert by the Sinfonia VarsoviaOrchestra and the Philharmonic Choir from the Polish capital took place. Originally from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the soloists were soprano Andrea Danková, mezzo-soprano Jarmila Baláľová, Slovakian Tomáą Juhás and bass Jozef Benci brought together under the direction of conductor Robert Kruľik. They were joined by Hungarian organist László Fassang. The program included the work "Prague Carnival" by Bedřich Smetana, the symphonic poem "Les Preludes" by Franz Liszt and "Missa Glagolitic" for soloists, double choir, orchestra and organ by LeoąJanáček. A heavy programme with intense sounds, a real tour de force for all the musicians involved. Robert Kruľik energetically led the ensembles that proved very good technical preparation. A highly professional concert, which also met the audience's appreciation.
A special mention for the "Missa Glagolitic" composed on a text in Old Slavonic, score with an extremely difficult writing and an uncomfortable vocal texture for most voices, in which the secular style predominates, with episodic passages of liturgical inspiration. It is the work in which, within the soloist quartet (vocally heterogeneous), I especially liked the voice of the bass Jozef Benci (laureate of the "George Enescu" International Competition, as well as of the "Hariclea Darclée" International Singing Competition).
On my last day in Warsaw, I attended two events. For me, it is always a joy to be able to watch an organ recital, and the most suitable setting is that of a church. The Hungarian organist László Fassang delighted the audience present at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist with a demanding program of an hour and a half. He performed works from Polish and Hungarian creation, some of which were composed on the famous musical motif "B-A-C-H". Signatories of the compositions - Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Zsigmond Szathmáry, Elek Huzella, Ernő Dohnányi, Zoltán Kodály, Zoltán Gárdonyi, Dezső Antalffy-Zsiross. A versatile musician, László Fassang closed the recital with an exceptional improvisation on themes from "Peer Gynt" by Evard Grieg.
An evening crowned by success in the company of Transilvania Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by conductor Gabriel Bebeșelea!
Sunday evening, a new concert with a full house. Romanian musicians participated for the first time in this festival, the organizers inviting the ensemble from Cluj. A programme that the spectators in Cluj-Napoca also enjoyed during the concert held two days ago, bringing together Romanian and Polish creations. In the opening - "Romanian Concert" by György Ligeti, a valuable work of folklore inspiration, too rarely performed on Romanian stages. The violin solo belonged to Ana Török, the expressive musician who occupies the position of concertmaster of the orchestra.
A recently rediscovered score is that of the Concerto op. 60 for piano and orchestra by the Polish composer Władysław Żeleński. Interesting post-romantic creation, which had the Polish pianist Piotr Sałajczyk in the foreground. With a very good piano technique, Sałajczyk felt in his element, nuancedly interpreting the work with a strong Polish ethos, his detailed knowledge of the particularities of the score and Żeleński's style being evident.
The second part of the evening brought together the well-known creation of Theodor Rogalski - "Three Romanian Dances", "Pastoral-fantasy" by George Enescu (a work discovered and edited by Gabriel Bebeșelea), as well as "Rhapsody on Moldavian themes" by Mieczysław Weinberg. About Gabriel Bebeșelea, we know that he has a special talent in creating programmes for the concerts he conducts, always having a connection between the selected works. Even though the original programme was slightly modified, I think what we listened to in the hall of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw was the perfect version to represent the musical creation of the two countries.
I suspect that it is known at the national level that the Transilvania Philharmonic Orchestra is a reference ensemble, a landmark of Romanian musical excellence. Under the baton of Gabriel Bebeșelea, a fine connoisseur of all technical and stylistic aspects, the orchestra performed the complex programme impeccably. "Rhapsody on Moldavian themes" written by the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg, whose parents came from Basarabia, is Gabriel Bebeșelea 's latest contribution to developing the concert repertoire in our country with works about which, unfortunately, we know little or nothing at all. The score was included in the programme, by his decision, just 2 days before the concert in Cluj-Napoca, an event that took place on November 18th, the score being an absolute novelty for the ensemble. Last-minute changes determined this decision, which seemed risky, especially since the work contains passages of great complexity, which normally require time to study. Gabriel Bebeșelea relied on the professionalism of the instrumentalists with whom he has been working for 7-8 years, being convinced that, by mobilizing everyone, they will succeed. The result was remarkable, the musicians playing the score with accuracy and style, being perfectly coordinated by Gabriel Bebeșelea who successfully led them through all the agogic fluctuations. An artistic performance appreciated by th eaudience tha tburst into stormy ovations and applause.
In contrast to the tumult of the afore mentioned programme, Gabriel Bebeșelea chose for the encore "In search of the lost father" - a lyrical work, a superb composition written for the soundtrack of the film of the same name by Cristian Lolea, a Romanian composer based in Warsaw.
More information about the Eufonia Festival, but also about the participation of the Transilvania Philharmonic Orchestra, you can find out from the interviews I conducted with Dr. Habil, Rafał Wi¶niewski - Director of the National Center of Culture, as well as with the conductor Gabriel Bebeșelea, materials available on the website- on our website, www.romania-muzical.ro, Interviews section.
Translated by Mara-Sabina Rolea,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu