Monday, September 11, 2023

Grand Palace Hall, Ion Câmpineanu 28, Bucharest, Romania

The Vienna Philharmonic’s second Festival concert with Jakub Hrůša began with music from Janáček’s Vixen opera, wonderfully played with rhythmic elan and tender lyricism, a whole range of characterisations, situations and emotions portrayed – enacted during daylight or at twilight (the writing leaves no doubt as to which) – every note, detail and dynamic made significant. Herbert Blomstedt recently included the first movement of Enescu’s Orchestral Suite No.1,, so it was good to now hear the complete four-movement work, always expressive, transfixing when interpreted and played like this, the Finale building in momentum and density for a resounding conclusion.

Following intermission, Rachmaninov’s swansong Symphonic Dances, for Philadelphia and Ormandy. Jakub Hrůša judged it well in terms of tempo and feeling, emotional fire, too, and his flexible approach didn’t threaten the work’s titular motivation. Strings were lustrous, there was a poetic saxophone solo midway through the first movement, the second one’s macabre aspects were not overdone, and the passions of the Finale were stealthily stoked up, aided by the ‘Dies irae’, so that the ultimate measures, for which Hrůša made a marked acceleration, took us very near the abyss.

As an extra a polka schnell by Johann Strauss II, the name of which escapes me, although it’s regular New Year’s Day fare, a concert Hrůša, having just passed the audition, might find himself conducting one day. And, for those wondering, as far as I could see, the number was four.

Janáček Suite from the opera The Cunning Little Vixen (compilation by Charles Mackerras)
Enescu Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major Op. 9
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances Op. 45