Follow the European tour of BFO right from the pen of Vladimir Fanshil Assistant Conductor!
The tour has arrived in Bruges, a medieval city with glorious Gothic architecture that dates back over a thousand years.
Small, quiet cottages on windy roads, embraced by canals - lined by hanging willow-trees and waters of an olive green.
No wonder that many orchestra members were ecstatic to be back in this world heritage listed gem. The choice of chocolate, cafes, cute corners and restaurants of the highest calibre are plentiful as a field of freesias awaiting to be plucked and tasted.
The Concertgebouw (concert hall) is an ultra-modern, enormous red statement, which strikes one as a miss-fit at first, but perhaps there was no other option for a city of such deep history and architectural range, just as Bach is often programmed with modern music to provide the gravity for experiments.
The rehearsal began with the ritualistic Bach Choral (selected randomly) played by the winds and brass. This is a tradition Fischer has instilled in the core of the orchestra and practices religiously around the globe. It serves as a tuning fork, but mostly as an anchor for the orchestra - which places music above any individual ambition and gives a sense of higher purpose - an ingredient without which life itself becomes lifeless.
The hall acoustic was dry, but not at all as problematic as the previous, so Fischer focussed on tuning and other details to polish.
Having discussed in depth Dvorak's Cello concert with soloist Daniel Müller-Schott over a scrumptious Flemish flavoured fish, I was eager to hear his rendition of the concerto for the third time.
This concerto was Dvorak's last orchestral work and is a complete fete of mastery. Even his mentor Brahms said "Why on earth didn't I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known I would have written one long ago". The mastery lies in the architecture and transformation of themes through a field of genres. And this the orchestra with Müller-Schott did exceptionally well. It was as if he and Fischer were telling the audience a story, the interplay of themes was seamlessly delivered and emotions clearly exposed. From heroic to melancholic to reflective to optimistic to elegaic and then triumphantly resolved. The audience were guided like a needle-tip through the emotional journey of the piece and taken out to see the tapestry as a whole - grand and intricately detailed. At this moment of illumination a huge sense of awe overtakes and thunderous gratitude from the hall erupted.
There are a number of texts that glue a programme to this concerto and link the elegy to Josefina's death etc. but the power of the work is in that each genre is so potent that the listener can write their own story within the grand structure. That is what makes this piece majestic yet deeply personal.
Vladimir Fanshil, Assistant Conductor to Ivan Fischer