Victoria Poleva (born 1962)

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Grand Palace Hall, Ion Câmpineanu 28, Bucharest, Romania

For their second Enescu Festival concert, Vladimir Jurowski and the Bavarian State Orchestra opened with the fifteen-minute White Interment by Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva, slow and reflective if rather expressionless, quietly intense, with subtly changing timbres from the full orchestra, if not perhaps much to return to, the meditative state reminding at times of Arvo Pärt’s somewhere-out-there testimonies.

Greater variety and passions came from Vilde Frang in Berg’s Violin Concerto (in memory of eighteen-year-old Manon Gropius). Frang was in great form, technically and musically, and Jurowski and his orchestra worked wonders with Berg’s invention and scoring, although the broadcast sound placed the orchestra a little distantly so that a few details were not ideally clear. In particular this was an urgently emotional account, volatile and flexible, impassioned, and only with the introduction of the Bach chorale was there any hint of acceptance, that something might be beyond the grave, although a heartfelt and soulful charge continued to underpin this vivid and penetrating performance that satisfied Berg’s fastidious organisation while the invention therein leapt off the ink-still-wet pages.

Jurowski and the Bavarians then scaled the heights of Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, the dynamic range sometimes defeating the engineers of TV România, or the Internet, although Jurowski’s approach to the work is familiar from his London Philharmonic recording, and there’s also one on Pentatone with Berlin Radio. It’s a work he does with singular purpose, alive to wholeness and incident whether picturesque or something profound, blending large-orchestra luxuriance and chamber-music clarity, and here with heroic playing (the required musicians only just fitting onto the stage – nothing reduced in Munich) it was quite something, thrilling and poignant, enthrallingly inevitable.

Last night, Bach followed Mahler; on this occasion, Strauss’s envoi was Wagner, the Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, spiritually transporting; wonderfully rich strings and horns being an Earthly Delight.