What did Theofanidis, Beethoven and Mahler have in common in the last concert?
It might have just been one of my amusing games popping up at the end of a concert. Still I found it interesting that Beethoven’s ‘First Piano Concerto’ was paired up with Mahler’s ‘First Symphony’ and a performance of a recent work by Theofanidis’ ‘Rainbow Body’. In a way, a concert of "introductions".
Beethoven and Mahler were so young (just 25!) when they composed and introduced these pieces to a somewhat puzzled public.
Beethoven, although "Mozartian" at the start of his Concerto,
moved into his own musical language, slow & gentle but with a fiery
finish. Still, how "innocent" this music is compared to his ‘Fifth Piano Concerto: The Emperor’, composed 24 years later… I am almost sure that I heard ‘The Emperor’ first. I think that when it comes to Beethoven, we usually "get the peak" of his music. How delightful it was listening to Yefim Bronfman’s charming performance of the young composer who was not yet known as the "giant of calssical music".
Mahler’s ‘First Symphony’ is heard quite often
nowadays. It was not "shocking" any more and we "don’t care" if a
symphony does not adhere to its established form. I have heard this
Symphony so many times and always loved it. Still, in that concert
there was "a first" for me. I have never heard it played so slow…
This music which always sounds to me as a fairy tale, sounded even more
magical under the baton of Peter Oundijan. Following the concert I had the pleasure (with other fellow bloggers) of meeting the conductor. Yes, the orchestra played it 4 minutes longer than the "normal duration". Fifty nine minutes instead of fifty five… and what a difference it made!
That the PSO, which I am sure, knows this symphony "by heart", was
following a much slower tempo and sounded great is a testimony to its
versatility. It might have been "a first" for the PSO as well.
Christopher Theofanidis’ ‘Rainbow Body’ was "my
first" on several levels. It was the very first time I Heard it &
it was just the second time that graphical images (pictures of dying stars
taken by the Hubble telescope) were screened while the piece was
performed. ‘Rainbow Body’, as introduced by the composer at a meeting of the "Friends of the PSO"
a couple of days earlier, was influenced by two sources as far apart as
we can imagine: a German chant from the Thirteenth Century and a Tibetan
maxim about the belief of the transformation of death into cosmic
energy & light. The music conveyed both: starting with delicate
sounds resembling Christian chants from the middle ages and developing
into energetic, sometime even violent reverberations. The "slide show",
however, did not add to my musical experience. The changing slides on
the huge screen did not corrispond to the flow of the music. Not only
that: pictures of tremendous energy & movement were "frozen in
time" while the music was alive… I felt almost as though it was an
after-thought. The music was enchanting and powerful. I did not gain
from the "real pictures".
I can’t imagine a world void of Beethoven and Mahler. Christopher Theofanidis
was in good company. I hope that in the future he will be known just by
his last name. Then he will join the giants & the stars.