Homage to George Enescu Recital of Viktoria Vassilenko
Victoria Vassilenko ,winner of the 2016 George Enescu International Piano Competition in the Sala Thalia,Sibiu as part of the Enescu Festival 2017
An amazing series of concerts in the George Enescu Festival in Rumania from 2 until 24 September.
A line up of of Orchestras and artists that would do any of the great musical centres in the world proud in an entire season let alone in two weeks.
Sometimes even three concerts a day with Orchestras that include the Czech,Munich and Israel Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony,S Cecilia ,
Royal Philharmonic,Philharmonia di Londra,Camerata Salzburg,
Russian National,Orchestra National de France
under Pappano,Gergiev,Dutoit,Ashkenazy and Honorary President Zubin Mehta
with Trifonov,Argerich,Chen,Terfel,Vengerov,Zukerman,Kaufmann etc etc ……….
The list is too long to include all the wonders on offer in a homage to that great Rumanian musician George Enescu.
(Much remembered in England as the inspirational mentor of Yehudi Menuhin)
Most of the concerts are in Bucharest but there are concerts in other important cities too .
It was in Sibiu that I managed to hear last Sunday Philippe Jaroussky and Celine Scheen with Christina Pluhars Arpeggiata Ensemble in the magnificent Evangelistic Cathedral in the centre of this beautiful city .
A programme based on Monteverdi that treated the packed out church to an hour an half of absolutely sublime music making .
The two solists completely at their ease .
So much so they even on occasion abandoned their scores to make their ensemble more intimate and united.
Christina Pluhar leading her renowned group founded in 2000 .
Antique intruments played with all the abandonment and virtuosity that these instruments can have in the hands of real dedicated musicians.
Rarely can this music have sounded so alive and immediate as this evening.
Taking turns to sing from the pulpit and even together in a very amusing encore that was given after a standing ovation from a public that had listened in raptures in total silence.
Nearly all the concerts are broadcast live on the radio and streamed too and I managed to hear part of the Saturday afternoon concert from Bucharest with the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne with Mihai Ritivoiu and Tine Thing Helseth under Joshua Weilerstein give a very fine account of Shostakovich’s Concerto n.1 for trumpet and piano.
Next week just in one day there is Vengerov/Papian in Sibiu whilst Pappano is performing in Bucharest the Resurrection Symphony with his Orchestra and Chorus from Rome ( a magnificent performance that I had heard this winter in Rome)
and later that very evening Jordi Savall.
So it was hardly surprising to find Ray Chen playing some magnificent solo Bach (a simple direct musicality reminiscent of Sandor Vegh) on the car radio from the five o’clock concert in Bucharest whilst on my way to the recently restored Sala Thalia in Sibiu to hear the winner of the 2016 Enescu International Competition for the seven o’clock concert .
At eight in Bucharest Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit were playing their Ravel concerto ( their first performance of the concert was together many years ago when they were married and had a child together) united in their later years after a stormy marriage (he just celebrated his 80th birthday and her 76th, I do not think one dare use the word ” old age” in this case) with the RPO in a concert streamed live into the George Enescu Square .
Nel 1972, incontro d’eccezione con la pianista Martha Argerich e suo marito il direttore d’orchestra Charles Dutoit. Fermamente indipendente, Martha ha già scelto di condurre una carriera alla sua immagine, imprevedibile e affascinante.
Amongst all these international “stars” the festival under the enlightened artistic direction of Vladimir Jurowski has found time for the next generation of musicians filtered through the Enescu International Competition .
Artist that include Erzhan Kulibaev,violin 18/9,Mihai Ritivoiu 10/9,Zhitomir Fung,cello 13/9 and Viktoria Vassilenko ,piano 12/9.
And so it was that the discerning public did not desert this 25 year old Bulgarian pianist in a programme of mostly Russian music (hardly surprising from the class of Dmitri Bashkirov at the Regina Sofia Academy in Madrid).
The first of the “war” sonatas n.6 op 82 , Debussy Pour Le Piano ,Tchaikowsky “Dumka” op 5 ,Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition .
An imperious appearance alla Gina Bachauer or Oxana Yablonskaya with all the assuredness of someone who was totally in command both musically and technically.
In the opening Debussy she gave her heart strings too much reign and in general it suffered from an over romantic approach where a more simple and refined palate as Rubinstein and Perlemuter have shown us is needed if this music is to retain its elegance without sentimentality .
How many times I have heard Rubinstein in those opening glissandi leading so simply and inevitably to the chordal fanfares .
The heartfelt yearning of the Sarabande where Perlemuter used to obtain a very special sound with the soft pedal down but playing with a stronger touch than would seem necessary for such poignant music.There was more passion in the notes rather than having to resort to out of place rubato.
Here we are in the land of the Hommage a Rameau from the same early period of this French genius composer.
Of course she played it very well but just a little too keen to make too many hairpins that it seemed to loose its impetus and very aristocratic Frenchness.
It was a completely different thing in the Russian music.
Here was a superb performance of the 6th Sonata by Prokofiev.
Played with just that driving rhythm and unshakeable sense of being anchored to the ground .
Some remarkable sounds from the ferocious to the most tender .
The war like motto theme (in many ways reminiscent of Mahler 6) played with the threatening menace that made its reappearance in the final movement so chilling.
“Avec un sentiment de regret” indeed.
The dance like second movement Allegretto played with all the lilt that Prokofiev is capable of without conceding for a second the rhythmic impetus behind the notes .
The Tempo di Valzer slow movement played with all the sounds of a sumptuous Russian Symphony Orchestra.
The relentless last movement only interrupted by the opening motto but driven to its inexorable end in a performance that had the audience holding their breath until the last
Dumka was played very beautifully but again as in Debussy she allowed the rhythm to slacken when her heart took over.
Mussorgsky Pictures on the other hand received one of the finest readings I have ever heard in concert.
A truly wonderful range of sound allied to an impeccable sense of balance.
The menacing Gnomus dissolving into a most beautifully shaped Old Castle.
An unrelenting Bydlo lead to all the charm of the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks.
Some transcendental playing of great control in Limoges Market and the sublime magic created at the end of Catacombae was only broken by the unsually quiet entry of Baba Yaga.
Quiet before the storm indeed and such was her sense of balance and control she knew exactly how to pace herself as the old masters of the past used to.
The tolling bells of the Great Gate of Kiev were allowed to sing out in all their glory instead of vying for attention in the battle between the hands as is normally the case.
A tumultuous ending and only now slightly giving any sign of tiredness for what we had all been through.
It brought the audience to their feet to show their appreciation of this superb young artist.
No encore was possible after this and the seriousness of this artist was once again proven in not giving in to such insistent applause.