Johan Dalene, Stathis Karapanos, Christoph Eschenbach / Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Mozart / Reinecke / Brahms
Tonhalle am See, Zurich, 2021-11-06
2021-11-11 — Original posting
Ein zweites Orpheum-Konzert innert weniger als zwei Wochen — Zusammenfassung
Nur 11 Tage nach dem ersten Orpheum-Konzert dieser Saison (2021-10-26, zum Anlass des 30. Jubiläums der Orpheum Foundation) lud die Stiftung nochmals zu einem hochkarätigen Konzert in die frisch renovierte Tonhalle am See in Zürich. Es war dies wohl das Pandemie-bedingt verschobene Frühlingskonzert 2021. Es mag auch die Pandemie gewesen sein, welche den Organisatoren diesmal Steine in den Weg legte: der Flug eines der Solisten wurde abgesagt, das Konzertprogramm musste wegen der späten Ankunft kurzfristig umgestellt werden.
Somit eröffneten Christoph Eschenbach und das Konzerthausorchester Berlin den Abend mit der Sinfonie Nr.4 in e-moll, op.98 von Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897). Eine eindrückliche, ausgezeichnete Aufführung—erwartungsgemäß, hat Eschenbach mit diesem Ensemble doch gerade die Brahms-Sinfonien auf CD aufgenommen.
Die zweite Hälfte des Abends stand im Zeichen der beiden jungen Solisten. Als erstes präsentierte der 21-jährige Schwede Johan Dalene das Violinkonzert in A-dur, KV 219 von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)—in einer hochsensiblen, subtilen und durchweg überzeugenden Interpretation. Danach spielte der 25-jährige Grieche Stathis Karapanos das einzige romantische Solokonzert im Flötenrepertoire, das Flötenkonzert in D-dur, op.283 von Carl Reinecke (1824 – 1910). Es ist dies das letzte Solokonzert dieses Komponisten. Als Komposition kann es den anderen Werken im Programm nicht die Stange halten—Stathis Karapanos’ Flötenspiel vermochte dennoch zu überzeugen. Falls da noch Zweifel geblieben wären, so überzeugte die Zugabe vollends: Syrinx von Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918).
Table of Contents
- The Artists
- Concert & Review
- Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, op.98
- Mozart: Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219
- Reinecke: Flute Concerto in D major, op.283
- Encore — Debussy: Syrinx, L.129
|Venue, Date & Time||Tonhalle am See, Zurich, 2021-11-06 19:30h|
|Series / Title||Young Soloists On Stage — Orpheum Foundation|
|Organizer||Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists|
Goldmann Public Relations
|Reviews from related events||Earlier concerts organized by the Orpheum Foundation|
Previous Orpheum concert with Christoph Eschenbach
Back in Zurich’s Tonhalle am See—for the second “Orpheum concert” within a mere 11 days! That “near-collision” is not accidental. One can see this concert as postponed from spring 2021 (due to the pandemic, of course). The concert on 2021-10-26, however, was given in celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary. Congrats!
The Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists was created in 1991. The first of the Foundation’s concert featured the Bamberger Symphoniker and was given in the organization’s first year, 1991. The conductor back then—as in this concert—was Christoph Eschenbach (*1940, see also Wikipedia). I have encountered Christoph Eschenbach in concert once before, on 2017-12-18, in the context of an Event organized by the Orpheum Foundation.
For the conductor, however, this wasn’t just a return to the roots of the Orpheum Foundation (where he is a member of the Artistic Board of Trustees), but a return to the place (and the hall) where he was chief conductor for the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich for four years (1982 – 1986). Eschenbach is still Honorary Conductor with the Bamberger Symphoniker. However, in 2019, he became chief conductor for the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. With that orchestra, he is currently on tour, along with Johan Dalene, one of the soloists in this concert:
Johan Dalene, Violin
The first of the two soloists of the evening was the Swedish violinist Johan Dalene (*2000 in Norrköping). Dalene—son to a cellist and a pianist—began playing the violin at age 4. He debuted with a concerto just 3 years later. A student-in-residence at the 2016 Verbier Festival, he was accepted into the Norwegian Crescendo mentoring program in 2018, where he worked with Janine Jansen (*1978), Leif Ove Andsnes (*1970), and Gidon Kremer (*1947). With this background, Johan Dalene successfully launched a solo career. This takes him to prominent places all over Europe, as well as China and Africa. His list of upcoming concerts (& venues) is impressive!
Johan Dalene continues to study, now with Per Enoksson (*1961) at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. At the same time, he is also attending master classes with prominent artists, such as Miriam Fried (*1946), Dora Schwarzberg (*1946), Pamela Frank (*1967), Gerhard Schulz (*1951), and Henning Kraggerud (*1973).
Johan Dalene performs on a 1736 violin by Antonio Stradivari (1644 – 1737).
Stathis Karapanos, Flute
The Greek flutist Stathis Karapanos (*1996) grew up in Athens, son of a ballet dancer and a banker. He discovered the flute for himself at age 5. He received his first professional flute education at the National Conservatory in Athens. When he was 13, his family moved to Bulgaria, where he took up lessons with Prof. Georgi Spassov at the National Music School of Sofia “NMU Lyubomir Pipkov”. 2013, he continued his studies at Music University of Karlsruhe, with Renate Greiss-Armin and Mathias Allin, and graduating in 2018. Stathis Karapanos has since been performing as soloist in concert with prominent orchestras / conductors and musicians.
In 2016, the artist was appointed First Principal Flute of the Athens State Orchestra. However, he left that post in 2018, to continue his studies with Philippe Bernold at the Conservatoire National Superieur in Paris. And, of course, he wants to pursue his career as soloist.
Christoph Eschenbach / Konzerthausorchester Berlin
I have written about Christoph Eschenbach above. However, this was my first encounter with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. The name of that ensemble refers to its “home venue”, the Konzerthaus Berlin. This building was originally designed by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781 – 1841). After destruction in WWII, the building was reconstructed 1979 – 1984. The orchestra itself emerged in 1952, under the name Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester (Berlin Symphony Orchestra). It was seen as Eastern (GDR) rival to the Berlin Philharmonic.
After the German reunification in 1989, the orchestra narrowly managed to avoid dissolution. In 2006, it acquired its current name. The ensemble has had a number of prominent principal conductors, such as Kurt Sanderling (1912 – 2011), Eliahu Inbal (*1936), Iván Fischer (*1951), and now Christoph Eschenbach, who will keep that position till 2023. The designated chief conductor and artistic director is Joana Mallwitz (*1986), starting 2023.
- Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897): Symphony No.4 in E minor, op.98
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791): Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219
- Carl Reinecke (1824 – 1910): Flute Concerto in D major, op.283
This actually was not how the program was written in the concert announcements. That called for Brahms’ symphony to appear at the end of the program. However, as the radio presenter Eva Oertle announced at the beginning, before the conductor entered the stage, the flutist’s plane from Berlin had been canceled the day prior to the concert. The same happened again on the day of the event. However, luckily, the artist managed to arrive in Zurich—just briefly before the concert started. Hence the program swap.
The concert was well-attended. I was lucky enough to receive one of the very best seats available. I found myself in parquet row 15, the first row of the central rear block. This offered ideal acoustics and a good view onto the orchestra.
Concert & Review
Brahms: Symphony No.4 in E minor, op.98
- Allegro non troppo
- Andante moderato
- Allegro giocoso
- Allegro energico e passionato
A detailed analysis is available via Wikipedia. For now, just briefly: among the movements, the first three are in sonata form (except that the Andante moderato has no development section). The last one is an extensive set of 30 variations, with a coda.
I have written about several earlier concerts featuring this symphony, so I won’t add more comments here.
The program swap added more “weight” to the performance of Brahms’ fourth symphony. And it gave me a chance to concentrate on orchestra and acoustics. And on the interaction of the ensemble with the venue. I suspect that the orchestral performance profited from the swap. Orchestra tours are tiring, and so, the new program sequence permitted experiencing the orchestra in freshness, and with full attention & focus.
Christoph Eschenbach presented his orchestra in an impressive, big configuration. He placed the two violin groups at the front, on either side of the podium. The violas were behind the first violins, the cellos between viola and second violins. And the five double basses on the far right, behind the second violins. As usual, the wind instruments were all placed on the ascending part of the podium. It looked almost like a pre-corona arrangement with joint desks for the string instruments (other than the double basses). Except that the distances of the musicians’ chairs appeared a tad larger than prior to the pandemic.
I. Allegro non troppo
Orchestra sound first: it struck me that the violins did not appear as compact, perfect and smooth entities, but as lively, characterful groups, colorful in the sound. In the first bars, Christoph Eschenbach let the violins dominate, while the lower strings formed a full-bodied foundation. The lower strings appeared somewhat less differentiated, if not occasionally a tad dull. This may be due to the physical arrangement, or possibly a partial failure in adjusting to the acoustics in the renovated hall?
I liked the clarity in the woodwinds—and particularly the horns (key instruments with Brahms!). Throughout the first movement, I noted the warmth in the soundscape. Clarity, never emotionally cold, harmonious in the rubato, but never overly romantic, let alone pompous.
Christoph Eschenbach’s conducting was clear, even though he rarely ever resorted to formal sign language. Throughout the concert, his tempo choices felt natural, moderated. He avoided both excess romanticism, as well as any signs of “radical HIP” attitude. Eschenbach received excellent support by the concertmaster, as well as (at least) by the first cello desk. These were the group leaders that were most easy to observe from my position. Overall, I had the impression of a highly engaged and focused orchestra.
II. Andante moderato
Already in the first bars, the exceptional clarity of the horn group was striking. Their sound was never too brassy, though. The wind instruments (clarinets, in particular) in general were amazing with their warm sound. That said, I did not get the impression of competing “primadonnas”. Eschenbach maintained a calm heartbeat, a natural flow, while leaving room for melodies. And he maintained transparency and balance in polyphonic passages. That movement must be close to his heart. He retracted his baton, sensitively shaping soundscape and melodies with his hands and fingers.
The warmth and intensity persisted through the passages where Brahms “dilutes” his texture to the exchange of motifs. On the other hand, even around climaxes, the sound retained its elasticity, never felt pushed. A movement so typical of the late Brahms, so glowing of intense feelings, emotions, melancholy, love still. After a climax, I found the string passage at bar 88ff particularly heartwarming and intense, stirring up emotions. Even when the atmosphere momentarily darkens and the music turns reflective, mysterious, hesitant, introverted, the music retained its intensity (in bar 102ff). And even in the final, harmonious broadening of the pace, the composer never appeared to resign.
III. Allegro giocoso
Playful (giocoso), indeed! Never in this movement, I felt empty virtuosity or cold, polished perfection. The music remained grounded, never turned noisy, let alone boisterous. Also here, Christoph Eschenbach’s conducting remained unspectacular. Transitions appeared entirely natural, inconspicuous. And I noted that even the pounding ff accents were given a tiny moment of preparation, and “room to breathe”.
The Poco meno mosso was another stellar moment for the horns. The Tempo I demonstrated the strengths of both brass and woodwinds. A true masterwork, this movement!
IV. Allegro energico e passionato
A monumental movement—and not without challenges, for sure! In the first segment (E minor), I noted a slight degradation in the coordination within the violins, in the semiquaver passages. Some of this can be attributed with the challenges of the antiphonal arrangement, possibly combined with the unfamiliar acoustic environment. The extended flute solo, though was very impressive, intense. I did sense a slight loss of tension in the E major section, around [E]—maybe the most difficult moment in the symphony? Naturally, the return to E minor in ff brought relief—and the performance remained compelling, even exemplary.
Overall Rating: ★★★★½
In the previous concert in the beautiful, newly renovated Grand Hall of the Tonhalle Zurich, I didn’t pay too much attention to acoustics. I had of course no doubt that the acoustics are at least as good as prior to the renovation. I also felt that judging the acoustics better happens with a fully professional orchestra, rather than the Orpheum Supporters Orchestra. That says nothing against that ensemble, wich indeed was really good, see my last review. However, even with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, one should take such judgement with a grain of salt. This orchestra didn’t really have time to adjust to the venue. Nor did the Orpheum Supporters Orchestra, of course. So:
I was amazed about the spatial clarity of the sound. One could very easily and instantly locate all voices in the soundscape: all wind instruments, as well as of course the string groups. Naturally, the antiphonal arrangement further widened the spatial impression. Still, I don’t remember such clarity from the time prior to the renovation. One of my reactions: should I call these acoustics analytical?
And then, the thought crossed my mind whether maybe the past four years with the Tonhalle Maag (with its definitely very analytical acoustics) had altered, “educated” my hearing? This may indeed be the case—to a minor degree. Primarily, I believe that the act of cleaning all acoustic surfaces, in combination with other enhancements, has indeed led to a substantial improvement, such as more brilliance. I can’t say that this was a surprise: improvements were expected. However, it still was a very pleasant realization.
The spatial clarity of course also comes with challenges for the orchestra. It reveals any irregularity, down to individual instrumentalists, possibly even single string players. In addition, how the acoustics work for the orchestra is an entirely different chapter. For example, how well the musicians hear each other (both their neighbors, as well as distant groups). This primarily can affect the coherence, the coordination. And with that the quality of the ensemble performance.
Dynamic Span, “Capacity”
One limitation with the Tonhalle Maag was, that a fff from a big orchestra easily overloaded / saturated the acoustics. At that point, music primarily sounded loud, noisy. Prior to the renovation, I had experienced really loud performances in this venerable hall, and I never felt that this overloaded the acoustics. This concert wasn’t a real test for “loud” performances. However, the orchestra still was fairly big, and I never felt any danger of it sounding noisy.
As for the “other end” of the dynamic scale: the Mozart concerto demonstrated that also the finest pp of a single violin projects well into the hall. It is of course not an ideal chamber music venue—see below. That’s something I should explore further in future concerts. In sum, the full benefit of the Tonhalle’s excellent acoustics can only be expected with an ensemble that has learned to live with and in the venue, to exploit its acoustic characteristics to the fullest. Obviously, this would be with the in-house orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. And maybe not right now just yet, but in a few months time.
Mozart: Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) wrote five concerti for violin and orchestra, all at young age. The last one, the Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219 is sometimes called “Turkish“. It is a composition from 1775, when the composer was 19). I have written about a 2015 concert performance of this work in Zurich. And I have also posted a small media comparison featuring this concerto. Especially the latter posting contains a detailed text on the composition, so I’ll refrain from adding further comments here. There are three movements:
- Allegro aperto — Adagio — Allegro aperto (4/4)
- Adagio (2/4)
- Rondeau: Tempo di Menuetto (3/4) — Allegro (2/4) — Tempo di Menuetto (3/4)
Expectedly, Christoph Eschenbach worked with a much smaller orchestra, with substantially reduced string voices. It was refreshing to see Johan Dalene enter the stage: relaxed, smiling, unencumbered by stage fright, seemingly devoid of insecurity!
I. Allegro aperto — Adagio — Allegro aperto
To me, it turned out that despite the reduction of the string voices, and despite the light articulation, the orchestra often felt somewhat massive. At least, compared to what today’s HIP performances would be offering. I felt this already in the initial Allegro aperto. However, it became very obvious in combination with Johan Dalene’s subtle playing, especially on the a’ and e” strings. This sometimes seemed to call for a chamber music configuration. Listening to the soloist, I was tempted to think of an accompaniment with just 1 – 3 instruments per (string) voice.
With the Adagio, Johan Dalene entered his solo part with stunning subtlety, initially ppp, definitely Adagio, if not unusually (but not too) slow, even slowing down towards the fermata. I liked the finesse in Dalene’s tone—which was his playing, not the instrument. The soloist played with limited vibrato, delicate, subtle, even discreet tone.
With the return of the Allegro aperto, the intimacy of the Adagio gave way to a different mood! Johan Dalene now moved forward in a refreshing tempo. He appeared to take over control, firm and agile in his playing, absolutely firm in the intonation. Repeatedly, Dalene seemed to pick up tempo again, making sure the performance did not lose drive and momentum. Here, the soloist’s Stradivari exhibited its beautiful tone particularly on the d’ and g strings. However, in the central part, Dalene did not shy away from setting remarkable accents and highlights high up on the e” string.
Johan Dalene’s cadenza (almost certainly his own) started momentarily simple (with the main theme). Then, after a brief double-stop episode and virtuosic run, it seemed to retract into intimacy and subtlety. In the central part, Dalene used extended double-stop playing, virtuosic runs and figures, with modulations that seemed “definitely beyond Mozart”. However, this never felt out of place or inappropriate. Quite to the contrary: I found it both very fitting and highly interesting. Maybe more interesting and attractive than any cadenza that I have heard with this concerto before!
★★★★½ (Solo) / ★★★½ (Accompaniment)
This movement in particular revealed that the orchestra was too big in its sound, but also in its musical gestures. It also seemed to lack acoustic connection with the solo part. The broad physical setup may have contributed to this. However, the main factor was size. The soloist often looked being left alone, calling for the intimacy of a chamber music setting. Luckily, Johan Dalene did not deviate from his concept: subtlety, little / inconspicuous vibrato, lots of ppp playing. The occasional portamento never felt put-on or exaggerated.
Johan Delene’s cadenza was another little gem. It started with some double-stop passages but otherwise remained simple, with lots of ppp. It calmed down to a long pause, as if the music needed to take a deep breath. And the soloist seemed to have all the time in this world. That pause was filled with expectation—until Dalene resumed with subtlety, finally resolving the tension into the closing cadence. Beautiful!
★★★★ (Solo) / ★★★½ (Accompaniment)
III. Rondeau: Tempo di Menuetto — Allegro — Tempo di Menuetto
By presenting the rondeau theme, Johan Dalene determined the tempo in this movement—and it was fairly fluent! The solo role in this movement is more central than in the first two. With this, Johan Dalene certainly would not leave out opportunities for cadenzas and fioriture at transitions. The first example for the latter was in bar 58, a first little cadenza—a decrescendo with three successive, ascending broken chords—appeared at the fermata at bar 109.
No cadenza in the general rest with fermata at bar 131: Mozart wanted this to sound like a silent (& “suspended”) ending. What followed is the “Turkish” segment (which gave the concerto its surname). Some artists / ensembles “abuse” this segment for an exaggerated caricature. Johan Dalene rather opted for a fast, virtuosic tempo, pulling ahead with agility. Some caricature character came in the subsequent tutti with its clumsy, pounding accents and the noisy col legno in the bass. The following alternating solo and tutti segments were associated with tempo alternations between the agile, virtuosic solos and a somewhat moderate Janissary march.
The fermata at the change back to 3/4 time at bar 262 was an ideal opportunity for another cadenza. And what a cadenza this was! Johan Dalene started off in noisy Janissary style, but some virtuosic figures soon transcended into soft, filigree passagework. It ultimately ended as a subtle transition to the initial Rondeau theme. Interestingly, Dalene chose a gentle tempo for the theme. Only in the tutti in bar 271, the orchestra resumed the proper Tempo di Menuetto. A very nice idea!
The final cadenza in bar 320 was short, but highly original. And infinitely subtle, where it led back to the last segment, into Mozart’s unique and masterful closure.
★★★★½ (Solo) / ★★★½ (Accompaniment)
Overall Rating: ★★★★
Especially in the last movement, Johan Dalene not only exhibited virtuosity, but also a strong character, astounding. Originality, creative power. And all this without trumping up or even a trace of showing off.
Reinecke: Flute Concerto in D major, op.283
The German romantic composer Carl Reinecke (1824 – 1910) was also a conductor and pianist. His oeuvre as composer features around 300 works, among them 3 symphonies, 4 piano concertos, as well as concertos for violin, cello, harp, and the Flute Concerto in D major, op.283, a late work from 1908. Only after his retirement from a teaching position at the Leipzig conservatory, Reinecke focused on composing. The op.283 is his last concerto. It premiered 1909 in Leipzig. The work features three movements as follows:
- Allegro molto moderato
- Lento e mesto
- Moderato – In tempo animato – Tempo I – Più mosso – Più lento maestoso
The concerto is considered significant in the limited repertoire of flute concerto. However, along with the “Undine” Sonata, the concerto is one of very few works that Reinecke is still remembered for.
Undeniably, Stathis Karapanos added color to the podium! As the radio presenter Eva Oertle explained, Stathis Karapanos is also exploring Rock, Jazz, and folk music. And he loves sewing—by hand!
I. Allegro molto moderato
The Allegro molto moderato as tempo annotation is not very precise, is rather open for interpretation. Interestingly, Reinecke puts a double barline between bars 4 and 5, and the latter bears the annotation “tempo ♪=176”. It is unclear to me whether that metronome number refers back to the initial annotation, or to the bars 5ff only. Among the 4 initial bars, #3 and #4 in addition read a piacere and con amabilità. So, the Allegro molto moderato only applies to the first two bars? Confusing!
Prior to the concert, I had listened to recordings of the concerto. Now, I was surprised by the very careful, soft & gentle, if not solemn beginning in this performance. The recordings I had listened to were substantially faster and more “robust”. I must say that I found the version in this concert very, very atmospheric—definitely preferable to my preceding experience. And it did approach the “tempo ♪=176” after a while. This of course excludes rubato and the momentary tempo alterations (e.g., un poco slentando … a tempo) that the composer specified in the score.
That continued through that movement: for this concerto, the broad, elegiac and romantic interpretation seemed perfectly adequate. I liked the long phrases, the dynamic arches. Later, when emotions were erupting, the music was definitely technically demanding, not just in the solo, but also in the orchestra. Stathis Karapanos appeared to master the challenges effortlessly, with a remarkably clear tone. Needless to say that I was pleased to note that his vibrato never turned intrusive or oppressive.
Of course, I need to be careful not to mix judgements on the composition with statements on the performance. The work definitely has limitations as a composition. There may be some nice themes (e.g., the opening theme), but these barely receive adequate development. Also, I wouldn’t call the instrumentation particularly refined, except that it always left room for the solo part. And the ending seemed exceedingly sweet. The musicians can’t fix this, of course. At most, one might blame them for selecting this piece. However, that would be utterly unfair. The flute repertoire is so unfairly thin and actually is (otherwise) essentially devoid of romantic concertos.
★★★★½ (Solo) / ★★★★ (Accompaniment)
II. Lento e mesto
Interestingly, the orchestral beginning of the second movement (“slow and sad”) reminded me of the atmosphere in the last movement, Abschied (Farewell), from Das Lied von der Erde by Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911). Both works date from about the same time.
To me, the opening (up to “A”) was maybe the best part of the concerto. The soloist of course contributed to this. And again, I enjoyed the subtle playing, the relatively flat, smooth and harmonious tone, the excellent dynamic control. That initial theme returns, in the second instance with a nice, atmospheric dialog between the flute and the solo cello. Also here (for the other themes), I can’t say that the movement is devoid of nice musical ideas. However, somehow, these don’t “stick”—was the composer afraid of overusing them?
III. Moderato – In tempo animato – Tempo I – Più mosso – Più lento maestoso
Also here, there are some nice ideas—but most of them feel ephemeral. The theme of the first part, up to “A”, on the other hand, is somewhat trivial. And it returns often enough to turn into an earworm. There are several other themes, also nice ones—too many, maybe? In the end, I kept the impression of a somewhat fragmented piece.
There are actually some challenges, also in the orchestra. One example is at “F”, where the coordination within the violins momentarily sounded shaky. Signs of fatigue near the end of a concert, with the added stress from traveling, the hectic changes in program? And/or maybe the challenges of the antiphonal arrangement in an unfamiliar environment? All this of course doesn’t mean that this isn’t a technically attractive piece for flutists. For example, the Più mosso (at “I”) is fairly virtuosic
★★★★ (Solo) / ★★★ (Accompaniment)
Overall Rating: ★★★★
Encore — Debussy: Syrinx, L.129
I somehow regretted that due to unexpected circumstances, the program was ending with Reinecke’s flute concerto. As outlined above, one may debate the value of that concerto. I certainly don’t think that this composition matches up to the preceding works. That isn’t the soloist’s fault. One might call it bad luck for the flutists that composers in the 19th century didn’t seem to like the flute as solo instrument. It’s a shame that the romantic repertoire for the flute is vanishingly small.
On top of that, the concerto didn’t allow Stathis Karapanos to present the full scope of his expressive potential—and in particular, the sonorities of his instrument. I therefore was delighted to see that the artist was willing to present an encore:
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) composed his solo piece for flute “Syrinx“, L.129 in 1913. Wikipedia states that it “was the first significant piece for solo flute after the Sonata in A minor by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 – 1788) over 150 years before (1747), and it is the first such solo composition for the modern Böhm flute, developed in 1847″. This (besides being a wonderful, atmospheric, little gem) explains its high popularity. The piece originally had the title “Flûte de Pan” and was part of an incidental music to the play (poème dramatique) Psyché by Gabriel Mourey (1865 – 1943).
Stathis Karapanos’ choice of encore may have been an obvious one. However, it turned out ideal for reconciliating the audience with the unexpected changes in program. Here, the artist could finally play out the qualities of his beautiful instrument: the warmth, the roundness, the depth of the sonority. It was so full that I intuitively thought of an alto, if not tenor flute! Beautiful playing, thanks a lot: to me, this was needed to bring the evening to a harmonious closure!
In brief: thanks to the encore, the program swap didn’t turn out detrimental to the outcome of the concert! There may even have been advantages to hearing the Brahms symphony as first piece. And after the intermission, we encountered two highly interesting, very promising soloists. Both of them are names that one should keep in mind!
The author would like to express his gratitude to
- the Orpheum Foundation and Goldmann PR for the invitation to the concert and the excellent seat, and
- Goldmann PR for forwarding the photos from the concert.
With the exception of the artists’ press images at the top, all photos are © Thomas Entzeroth, Zürich.
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