Friday, September 1, 2023

Grand Palace Hall, Ion Câmpineanu 28, Bucharest, Romania

Today Bucharest’s Enescu Festival was invaded by the French, friendly and cultural of course. Prior to this Toulouse concert the Ensemble Intercontemporain was scheduled to give a recital in The Romanian Athenaeum – Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto and his Concertos for Piano, Violin, and Cello – for which I could not find a broadcast.

Isis spins impressionism and exoticism, a legend being told musically by George Enescu via plenty of variegated expression, suggestion and colour (tinkling celesta, rippling harp), a gentle rhapsodic piece with the added timbre of vocalising women’s voices for something magical, a score that was well-worth completing by another hand, made whole to fifteen minutes.

Renaud Capuçon was in town and in golden form. Chausson’s Poème was broad, eloquent and confiding, wonderfully toned, sensitively accompanied, for something dreamily nostalgic and briefly restless, and then he gave us gypsy passion and seduction in Ravel’s Tzigane, a virtuosic but not empty display. Also with the orchestra, Capuçon’s blissful encore was by Massenet, an entr’acte beginning with M from an opera starting with T. You’ll know what it is.

Saint-Saëns’s C-minor Symphony, the one that includes an organ in the scoring, was generally well done, promising much in the introduction although the first part was on the fleet side, just avoiding gabbling through neat playing, and then the second part, organ as backdrop, was richly moulded. The second movement, also in two parts, found Christian Badea driving the Scherzo fierily, the spectral Trio continuing the pace, instruments, including the piano, nicely clear, with the Finale, in which the piano now needs two more hands, and the organ becomes a big gun, even if here the electronic one being used proved rather puny (even for me) although Badea kept the work on course to a blazing conclusion. During composition, Saint-Saëns must surely have known he was writing a masterpiece. The encore was the Prelude to Bizet’s Carmen. Très vite.

Enescu Isis, symphonic poem for female choir and orchestra (completed by Pascal Bentoiu)
Chausson Poème for Violin and Orchestra Op. 25
Ravel Tzigane, concert rhapsody for violin and orchestra
Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C minor Op. 78 “avec orgue”

CIPRIAN ȚUȚU conductor of the choir

July 14, 2013; Paris.