Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester in Athens

A late critique for the concert of Berlin's Radio orchestra. Usually, I manage to be faster, but this time most critics of Greek newspapers -as well as the ones that blog- got ahead of me. Anyway, a lovely concert, definitely an experience worth to pay for -the least to say. Having said that, I do not mean that I enjoyed every bit of the concert -but that's my problem.

In the program, two works by Greek composers, Jani Christou's Phoenix Music (1948-49), Iannis Xenakis' Dox-orkh for violin and orchestra (1991), and after the intermission two works from the 21st century. The Boston Concerto (2002) by Elliot Carter and Schattengitter (2007) by Andre Werner, a commission of the orchestra in a performance two days after its world premier in Berlin. All four works I was listening for the first time. I enjoyed the first half of the program more than the second, and although that too is my problem, I can back this up more or less...

Christou's instrumentation indeed impressive and captivating. A work worth knowing for any modern-contemporary music fan. Xenakis' work was more or less typical for his music. Full of dissonances (result of the mathematic/statistic theories he applied in his composition?), however charming -for someone with a bit of knowledge around contemporary music (not for the granny that loves - and lives- for Chopin...). The young Carolin Widmann in the violin (coincidence or relation to Jörg Widmann?) absolutely brilliant, much into her part, very good cooperation with the orchestra.

I found the second half of the concert less appealing. Werner's work as German as any avant-garde work from the '70s, or '80s could be... Not even the different tuning of the two orchestral groups did not help the work. Now, Carter's work was not German. Keeping in mind however that he was 94 years old when he composed this work, I would characterize the work a bit delirious. And before anyone feels offended by this noun, I should say that this is not the first time I get this impression: his piano concerto (from 44 years back) sounded to me (when I heard it) as delirious as the Boston concerto. Then again, the mistake might lay in me. In both works, I could not find a piece of information (emotional or intellectual) that could help me either follow them in any way easier or enjoy them even without understanding it...

Brad Lubman conducted brilliantly a great orchestra. Sadly, only about 800 persons in Athens found their way to the Athens Concert Hall. I guess it was the program on the one hand, and the lack of advertisement and glamour in their trip to Athens... unlike the London Symphony Orchestra with the "great" Gergiev few weeks earlier in the same hall. Cheers!

buzz it!

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