Final Concert of the SRIMF – Ovations for Musicians, Conductors, and Soloists
It was another grand finale for this year's SRIMF days. In the fully packed Christuskirche, all of the young participants could be heard in the symphony orchestra, ornamented with high caliber solo performances. Surely, we do the soloists no injustice if we first celebrate the quality, disciple and musical ability of the young musicians and of their conductor, Andrzej Grabiec, who, along with these engaged young people, put such a gargantuan program together in only a short time. When, in symphonic works like Dvorák's Cello Concerto or a symphonic poem by Liszt, one has 5 celli, but only 7 first violins, or, for example, 3 violas, and 4 trumpets, it takes great artistry to 'neutralize' this imbalance. The young musicians helped him in this task splendidly, under the leadership of concertmistress Maithena Girault.
But first our host at the Christuskirche, Deacon Karlhermann Schötz, greeted his guests in fluent English as well as German, thanking the organizers, particularly Christl Pelikan-Geismann, without whom the SRIMF would not exist. Schötz called on his audience especially to remember those in war zones. "While we enjoy this special music tonight, let us not forget those who suffer from war, discrimination and forced displacement."
At the beginning, in "Mozartian orchestration," they played his overture to "Il re pastorale." Here the conductor demonstrated the extent of his faith in his young musician. After conducting two beats, he let the musicians play alone. And this they did, with remarkable discipline and concentration, making the opening number, with it nimble violin work and cleverly contrasting dynamics, into quite an experience.
Dvorák's famous cello concerto followed with Misha Quint as the soloist. From the first note, the now full symphonic orchestra conveyed the emotional substance of the music with an intense string sound, clean horns and a soloist, who, in rapturous melodic swells, gave the work shape with passion and power. In the beautiful second movement, which began with a chorale of winds and developed in broad, mysterious pattens, Misha Quint reveled in the extended lyric passages with excellent flute section. And, in the final movement with the (too) big brass sound, the concertmistress had an impressive solo as well, before the work came to an end with a brilliant chordal finish.
In Bach's serene Concerto for Violin and Oboe, a more 'balanced' arrangement gave Amy Collins (oboe) and Andrzej Grabiec (violin) the space for a beautiful interplay, creating an intelligently structured, enchanting instrumental dialogue in the second movement and the simply riveting finale.
Singers were presented as well. Stephen Ng (tenor) and Russell Franks (bariton) performed the famous duet, "Au found du temple saint," from Bizet's "Pearl Fishers." The tenor shaped the duet smoothly, and with what soft timbre and effortless highs.
The 20th century was also represented musically, with Chris Carillo (trumpet) and Amy Collins (English horn) preforming "Quiet City" by Aaron Copland. A interesting, very "listenable" work with many original instrumental themes and a reverberant string sound, it quickly brought the audience under its spell.
And for the finish, Liszt's symphonic poem, "Les Préludes." Here the powerful brass sound filled the room, as rising themes in the celli built on the shimmering strings to the most sumptuous fortissimo, only to give way to a beautiful passage in the violins before escalating again into musical ecstasy. This musical tour de force ended with an almost violent fortissimo. Then came the ovations, encores and words of thanks (in German) from Misha Quint. The final concert of the SRIMF was once again a fascinating experience for all the young musicians, the participating soloists and the exuberant public, arousing anticipation for SRIMF 2015.