Monday, December 31, 2007

Last review this year....


I could have had my hands full - the Filharmonija had 7 concerts in various locations, the state symphony orchestra, the opera house, all theatres are busy and sold out, the restaurants have concerts (my friend Pavelas Giunteris is playing at a restaurant where the tickets cost about 90 Euros, though I hope you'd get fed, too - at the opera house you can pay more than that and just get a measly glass of sparkling wine...). You should know that some of the orchestras involved have also toured rural parts of Lithuania with the same programme; in addition the Filharmonija has had concerts every day since 26th December, so all Lithuanian musicians will be knackered.

Being a cheapskate, I always wait till January before I go to see repeat of the New Year Eve's premiere at the opera house. Then it's cheaper. The State symphony orchestra's concert this year particularly was not my thing, and so I ended up as usual at the St John's church with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. They do two sittings on the same evening; I got the first when they were still fresh.

The programme is always standard and fairly popular classical or baroque stuff. This year the delightful Robertas Servenikas conducted a Bach orchestral suite (not the one with the Badinerie), a number of arias and duets, and as always the Haydn farewell symphony. I wonder if we always need the same thing, but then what would the Vienna New Year's concert be without the Radetzky march?

It all went quite well; in the Bach I noticed that the orchestra is moving towards a more historically informed approach, which was nice. There were also some very fast moments. One of the movements seemed to have a divorce between the woodwinds and the cellos, but otherwise it went well. Church acoustics don't really help here; this church is particularly strong on resonance.

This was followed by an interlude of operatic and oratorio arias sung by Ignas Misiura and Milda Smalakyte, including an aria from Judas Maccabaeus in English, I think(wrong time of year), the 'how many shags has he had' aria from 'Don Giovanni' (wrong setting, in a church), an aria or two and a duet from Figaro (my memory is getting hazy here), and Franck's Panis Angelicus sung as a duet. This sounded odd to me, and reminded me of a few days ago when my son and I played the Bach double violin concerto on violin and viola (a version exists), where the viola with its stronger voice rather dominates the violin. This website suggests that PA is for soprano and SATB choir, which makes more sense. Here I thought they were just singing the notes, rather briskly, but not putting in the feeling of utter devotion that I would expect from this piece. And the lower voice was far too dominant.

Finally the farewell symphony with its well-rehearsed act of the players leaving the stage, which the orchestra has performed on New Year's Eve every year since 1966. Jee, the orchestra blistered its way through the Presto! Shame that Papa Haydn did not take into account the capacities of future players when only one or two were left on the stage. But everyone was happy and floated out of the church with the feeling 'what a good end to the year'.