Media Response

Friday 20.November 2015

Media response


Moravian Autumn is over. It received a standing ovation and a promise for the future

The two-week program which was bursting with ideas on blending of music with other art worlds was closed there, where the Czech Philharmonic opened it at the opening concert, but this time the local Brno Philharmonic played the lead role presenting a program worthy of increased attention.
… After a short opening work probably the most anticipated star of the festival appeared on the stage, the Scottish percussionist Colin Currie. His versatile musicality was presented in a wide extent within the one-movement Symphony no. 4 for percussion and orchestra by Erkki-Sven Tüür subtitled Magma. The breathtaking opus full of energy and ideas introduced the composer in residence of this year as a masterful author abounding with inventiveness of colours and rythms.
… The wracking spontaneity of the composition reached it’s climax in the solo part in which Currie literally bewitched the audience with his magmatic whirl.
… His precise performance, permeating the entire composition, was the driving force of the orchestra’s performance, which under the exceedingly persuasive leadership of Olari Eltse created a very stable support. Although there were of few moments in which minor rhythmic inaccuracies appered in the demanding score, the energy of all the participanting musicians was truly exceptional. The symphony was brimming with ideas, partly due to the timbre of percussion alternated in the drum part and to the orchestral polytonal tapestry, partly due to the influence of non-artificial music genres (a reminiscence of the rock past of the composer from the turn of the seventies and eighties).
… Tüür composition was the clear highlight of the evening and also an excellent transition from Debussy’s colorful shading to the raw animality of The Rite of Spring that was closing the evening.
… Festival events were concluded with honor and a great success. There is never enough opportunities for expanding horizons, and the Moravian Autumn has in this regard taken one of the leading positions on the Czech music scene. Perhaps we can assume that this year’s exceptionaly creative concept of the festival is a promise for the future, and if so, we can eagerly look forward to what the next year will bring.

Czech Philharmonic at the Moravian Autumn: unity, balance, beauty

The orchestra opened the gala evening with the Czech national anthem, Jiří Bělohlávek led it in a brisk tempo and without unnecessary pathos. Equally briskly the conductor opened the Fairy Tale, an early work by Josef Suk. One of the most meaningful orchestral works by Suk originated as incidental music to the play Radúz and Mahulena by Julius Zeyer. The orchestra was obviously concentrated in an amazing extent, integrity and unity were breathing from the Czech Philharmonic throughout the whole concert.
…The timpanist was brilliant, even in the loudest moments he kept adequate dynamics. The concertmaster performed the solo part in absolutely amazing way. Josef Suk composed his Fairy Tale really fabulously, however, the composition does not lose appeal and depth, not even in the sweet happy end, and the Czech Philharmonic performed it in a brilliant way.
…The solo in The Wandering of a Little Soul was performed by one of the leading Czech violinists of his generation and at the same time one of the Czech Philharmonic concertmasters Josef Špaček. Comparing to the Suk Fairy Tale the performance gathered more energy, the fervor of the soloist corresponded perfectly with the orchestra, the interplay was excellent.
Josef Špaček was stunning and the enthusiastic audience demanded an encore. In the solo piece by Eugène Ysaÿe, whose sonata he performed for the audience in Brno two months ago, he was thrilling again.

Armida Quartet from the present to the collapse of Romanticism

… The fourth string quartet by Béla Bartók was an extraordinary experience. It met with the enthusiastic and technical approach of the Armida Quartet and the result was really thrilling. The differentiation in styles of individual movements was perspicuous and the fourth pizzicato movement was fantastic, it evoked a spontaneously played dulcimer. The quartet by Erkki-Sven Tüür has a lot of inner energy and sometimes an echo of a riff sounds that we would expect from a rock band. Armida Quartett contibuted to the Tüür composition especially by an acoustic tightness.

Rhythmical farewell to the Moravian Autumn

The forty-eighth International Music Festival Moravian Autumn is over, the final concert was performed by the local Brno Philharmonic along with the star percussionist Colin Currie. An unprecedented amount of percussion instruments appeared on the stage of the Janáček Theatre, untypically placed in front of the orchestra.
…The audience attention was naturally focused in particular on the premiered fourth symphony by Erkki-Sven Tüür and the famous Igor Stravinsky Rite of Spring. So was probably also the Brno Philharmonic under the baton of Olari Elts.
…The one-movement Symphony No. 4 by the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür subtitled Magma was attractive for several reasons. It was a Czech premiere and Tüür was composer in residence of the Moravian Autumn. Participation of the renowned Scottish percussionist Colin Currie also contributed to the glamour of the work.
At first glance the composition seems to be a concert for solo percussion and orchestra – Currie, however, brilliantly grasped the composer’s intention. Despite his eminent front position on the stage he gave the orchestra space enough and as soloist he performed extremely descreet. He chose ideal dynamic levels and was meeting the orchestra in a fantastic way. He played vibraphone with sensitivity of a romantic pianist and allowed flutes to play opposite his xylophone fully. He played numerous instruments, from bass drum over gong, cymbals and marimba to jazz-rock set. On the last mentioned Currie performed an improvised solo which sounded “groove” in some moments. Although Currie did sound too original in the solo, it was a nice variegation. Then he approached marimba with a devoted reverence and returned to the bass drum and cymbals in the end.
…Compering to the Spring rondos the orchestra performed with an increased concentration. Trumpets excelled in the beginning of the composition which showed elements of spectralism. They were impeccable in intonation of long tones and beautiful in the sound colour. The conductor Olari Elts managed the demanding composition brilliantly, despite the changeable tempi of Currie. The jointly phrased passages of Currie with the orchestra were flawless. For some listener Magma might have been a difficult piece but from the performers it emanated clearly that they knew exactly what they were doing.
…The orchestra brilliantly coped with Stravinsky demanding irregular accentuation, Elts kept everything together and the rhythmics was excellent. Close to the end the Stravinsky ballet suite started to lose breath a little, but overall it was a very decent performance of the chronically known piece. The Symphony by Erkki Sven Tüür in the Janáček Theatre confirmed that contemporary classical music can find listeners in Brno and this way appropriately supported the bold dramaturgical intentions of the Moravian Autumn. The Brno Philharmonic manifested in the successful Rite of Spring much of its potential. Sorry only for the lackluster Debussy at the start.

Collegium Musicale: magnificent gust of Baltic choral tradition

Monday concert of the Estonian Chamber Choir Collegium Musicale opened the final third of the Moravian Autumn. Several moments underline the importance of the evening: it was the only purely vocal festival evening and the exclusively Estonian nature tied on the Norwegian and Polish concert series two years ago. The composer in residence of the festival Erkki-Sven Tüür was represented in the program in three works and finally, it was an extremely valuable experience.
…If we add the fact that the crowded Red Church applauded unusually lively for such a sacred environment to the attractive and impressive program consisting of music from 20th and 21st century, we find this concert as the best example of changes that the Moravian Autumn started two years ago.
…The exceptional evening presented Estonia (and Baltic countries) as choral and musical superpower strong also in composition. In any case, from the extremely wide professional and amateur scene the absolute top performers appeared to Brno. The atmosphere was excellent and the venue is one the acoustically most suitable for vocal music in Brno.

Not exactly a festival opening of the festival

After a few years, the Czech Philharmonic came to Brno with a popular program consisting of the best of classical Czech music. It was actually a reprise of the opening concert from the 2014/2015 season: only The Fiddler’s Child was replaced by The Wandering of a Little Soul.
… Already in the first composition of the evening, the Suk Fairy Tale, the Philharmonics under the baton of chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek performed in a focused way, based on a sophisticated, adequately internaly contrasting layout of individual movements. Strings performed with a noble cantilena, and so did the concert master Magdaléna Mašlaňová in her solo.
V poměrně uměřené interpretaci předvedla Česká filharmonie se sólistou Josefem Špačkem Janáčkův houslový koncert Putování dušičky, tedy skladbu, jejíž živou nahrávku ve stejném obsazení vydal letos v dubnu Supraphon. Jako už učinili mnozí přede mnou, musím i já vyzdvihnout jako hlavní kvalitu Špačkova přednesu snoubení technické suverenity se zapálenou expresivitou. K nadšení obecenstva přidal Špaček ještě virtuózní krajní věty z Ysaÿeovy druhé sonáty pro sólové housle.
…In a moderate interpretation the Czech Philharmonic performed with the soloist Josef Špaček Janáček violin concerto The Wandering of a Little Soul, a work which was released in the same cast by Supraphon in April this year. Like many before me, I also must emphasize that the technical sovereignty and enthusiastic expressivity are the main qualities of Špaček’s performance. The audience was pleased by listening to an encore – Špaček played a movement from the Ysaÿe second sonata for solo violin.
…Anyway, it was a successful concert, the orchestra as a whole as well as individual instrumental groups and individual players performed intently and received a standing ovation.

Breathtaking experience. Estonian choir in a fantastic shape

The International Festival Moravian Autumn, slowly aiming for a final, presented on Monday October 12th one of its indisputable highlights. Jan Amos Komenský Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren was lit by a concert with poetic title Three Estonian Stars, referring to the nationality of composers whose works formed the concert program: those were Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis and the festival composer in residence Erkki-Sven Tüür. The common theme of the evening influenced also the choice of performers; the Estonian Chamber Choir Collegium Musicale led by the choirmaster Endrik Üksvärav performed selected works with a thorough devotion.
…The choice of venue for this purely vocal evening surpassed all expectations. The blue illumination of presbytery, from where voices were carried farther into the darkned church nave, had an intoxicating effect, which surprisingly did not disturb the spiritual atmosphere of the evening. Acoustically it could not have been better, the sound was not fragmenting, it was clear in all hights, and listeners could enjoy every change of nuances.
…Program of the yesterday’s concert “tuned in Estonian way” full of excellent performance of the choirmaster Enrik Üksvärav and his Collegium Musicale ended with words by the Estonian poet and theologian Arved Paul in musical setting of Erkki-Sven Tüür: “So I’m waiting to be freed, to find a shelter in prayer”. The impression of transcendentality pervading the whole evening was compounded in the final. It turned out that some more Estonian stars shone in the end and together they managed to create a flawlessly sounding constellation. And we should be grateful for such experiences.

Against the stream

…The Brno Philharmonic took the Moravian Autumn over and decided to go against the stream. Maybe it was out of necessity, because it will hardly be able to reach the budget of the Prague Spring or the Dvořák Prague but the ambition of the Brno festival is to connect musical worlds, to present interesting music of the 20th century, contemporary and traditional classics. However, stars will be present in Brno – Simon Trpčevski, Colin Currie, participating composers Erkki-Sven Tüür, Justé Janulyté, Van der Aa. This all in a relatively top performance.
…Such a concept might remind of the Strings of Autumn Festival but each festival has chosen another direction. While representation of classical music in the Strings of Autum has decreased, for the Moraviae Autumn this world is the fundamental pillar. I like to see that a big festival has established here (20 projects will be organised from October 3 to 16), for which the experiment is not just a supplement.
…Maybe it’s a risky way but I like the courage of the organizer. Somehow I can not imagine that a big Prague festival that struggles for audience would for example offer Olivier Messiaen Visions de l’Amen or a piano recital with “obscure” dramaturgy Nietzsche – Liszt – Tolstoy – Pasternak – Skryabin…
…In addition, the Moravian Autumn ties on its history by organizing a musicological colloquium. The festival is symbolically framed by the opening concert of the Czech Philharmonic, celebrating 120 years, that will present perfect guardians of Czech tradition (Suk – Janáček – Dvořák), the final will be on shoulders of the Brno Philharmonic, that celebrates in this season sixty years and that will hopefully finally have a new ultramodern hall in 2017, and the program is sort of a glimpse into the future (Debussy – Tüür – Stravinsky).
…”This year’s program could largely be titled MUSIC +, so we added the attribute multi media. We have emphasized effort for looking for connections between music and other artistic disciplines”, explained Vítězslav Mikeš, dramaturg of the Brno Philharmonic and the Moravian Autumn. It is no coincidence that this music festival was awarded the EFFE 2015-2016 brand by an international jury. I hope citizens of Brno will perceive “their” festival not only as multimedial but also as extraordinary!

Primarily an experience. Sandglasses in Brno

On one of the last nights of Moravian Autumn the program conception of this year was fulfilled literally. For Sandglasses, an extraordinary multimedia event of the young Lithuanian composer Juste Janulytė an exceptional venue of the Brno Sono Centre was chosen, which supported the diversity of the work and satisfied its demanding requirements of realisation.
The composer and her team consisting of Lithuanian and Italian artists created a concept that worked with the acoustic sound of cello (members of Gaida Ensemble), live electronics (Michele Tadini, Antonello Raggi), video (Luca Scarzella, Michele Innocente), lighting design (Eugenijus Sabaliauskas, Vilius Vilutis ) and tulle installations. At a meeting that took place immediately before the performance, Janulytė highlighted a problem of defining her work, and she identified it primarily as an experience.
…An impression of invisible but never stopping movement was enhanced by a video, which was changing analogically with the sound in a very slow tempo. Would the colours not change or matters not move shimmeringly, modifications of visual would be hardly recognizable. One could say that every ongoing change – especially in the sound – was realisable only at the moment when it was accomplished. Transitions between them were so subtle that they seemed to take place just casually, silently, unnoticed. Color was clearly the dominant sound aspect, and its density and tension were based on the composer’s compositional method, which refers to the concept of monochrome music. This stems specifically from the sonic possibilities of an ensemble consisitng of the same instruments or instruments of one group (such as strings).
…If music as such is a supremely temporal art, providing listeners with a period filled with aestheticism of various types, then the experience which Justé Janulyté provides, can be characterized as a “gift of time”. As if antoher dimension is spreading which a man already succeeded to displace, revealing its natural perfection as well as intransigence. In such a situation the surprised listener is forced to stop and to listen to the seemingly stationary audio stream, which however constantly flows away and never returns back (just like time itself). When it is over it is not clear whether twenty minutes, one hour or eternity has passed. “The clock” dives into the darkness from which it emerged at the beginning, as well as the sound fades into the silence, from which it was born. Man is left alone, exposed, aware of finality of the universe as well as inability to trap a moment that just passed. He is left alone with an awareness of everything being in a constant motion.

Rotterdam Philharmonic and Simon Trpčeski: Storm on a solid foundation

The Rotterdam Philharmonic decorated the Moravian Autumn yesterday and its concert reminded of the beauty of Russian music and Sibelius symphonies. Also in this year the festival audience had a chance to experience an excellent foreign orchestra.
The Rotterdam Philharmonic and the pianist Simon Trpčeski performed together on the seventh Moravian Autumn Festival evening. The almost centenarian symphony orchestra appeared in Brno for the first time. Under the baton of the conductor Cristian Măcelaru the orchestra played works by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergey Rachmaninoff and Jean Sibelius. Thirty-five year old Măcelaru – originally a violin virtuoso – prepared all the performed compositions thoroughly. The opening May Night overture by Rimsky-Korsakov was a promise of a great performance. Probably the most awaited work of the evening was the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor by Sergey Rachmaninoff with the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski. At first Trpčeski was temperate in expression, his performance was self-confident but somewhat shallow in dynamics. Ostinato motives of the soloist were playful, presented with an adequate ease.
… Trpčeski started to shine and finally touched the dynamic limits of his instrument. Notable was the moment in which the soloist actually accompanied the woodwind players. In the second movement musicians began to phrase in a typically romantic spirit, obviously they waited toegther for the climactic harmonies. In combination with a less expressive color of previous parts this was a tactical work with the concert material. The third movement was stormy but precise at the same time and the interplay between the orchestra and the soloist was perfect. After the concert the Janáček Theatre literally exploded immediately in a standing ovation. Simon Trpčeski performed this extremely demanding solo in a masteful performance, moreover, he was in a great symbiosis with other musicians on stage.
…Despite comments on style, Brno audiences experienced a world-class concert. The orchestra was under the baton of Măcelaru sovereign, performing without any technical hesitation. The conductor used frequently lower volume levels to increase impressiveness of the accentuated moments. Even in the loudest forte passages the performance did not lose sophistication, the orchestra was an epitome of compactness. It is good that there is an organiser who invites top symphony orchestras to Brno, and both the audience and the musicians are receiving a reference point. The Dutch Ambassador in the introductory greeting promised other concerts of the Rotterdam Philharmonic in the Czech Republic – we will definitely look forward to.