It was an extremely ambitious and demanding program with which the conductor ljubka biagioni zu guttenberg and her orchestra, the sofia symphonics, concluded the open airs at the plassenburg this year. Current, solemn, surprising and contemporary, the musicians, in the best of spirits, presented a wonderfully successful summer journey from the old to the new world on sunday evening under their committed and versatile conductor.
An earworm stood with friedrich smetana’s "moldau right at the beginning. Even people who have nothing whatsoever to do with classical music can hum along when the composer takes the listeners to his bohemian homeland and describes the course of the river from its source through forests and corridors along proud castles to its confluence with the river elbe. With ljubka biagioni the dramaturgy is right. The main theme is developed again and again in rough arcs, the interpolations come coherently, the conclusion pompos. The sofia symphonics put great emphasis on a warm sound, let the many details of the score shine through and play with absolute inspiration.
The composer on the shepherd’s flute
Comes the "moldau from the second half of the 19th century. The audience was allowed to enjoy the "gypsy dance" at the beginning of the twentieth century and the composition "strange occasion look forward to contemporary works by bulgarian musician and composer teodosij spassov. Spassov is one of the best-known musicians and film composers in bulgaria. What made the kulmbach performance so special was that spassov himself performed as a soloist on the shepherd’s flute called kaval, which gave the jazzy and melodious sounding compositions, one of them with onomatopoeic interludes, a very special meaning. "Bulgarian music can be so interesting", said ljubka biagioni, who sees it as a mission to make this music better known.
Second work from the 19th century. Peter tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture "romeo and julia" from the second half of the nineteenth century. The composition is based on the work of the same name by william shakespeare and is considered to be tchaikovsky’s first great masterpiece. "Romeo and juliet, this means many musical gems, which are skillfully played out by the musicians. Transparently played, also relying on one or the other effect, the conductor lets this wonderful work resound, which fits into the beautiful courtyard of the plassenburg like no other, if only because of its theme.
More jazz than classical
After the intermission, the journey to the new world in america took a jazzy turn: george gershwin composed the famous "rhapsody in blue, which, with the accomplished soloist stefan vrachev at the admittedly somewhat minimalist-sounding electric piano, was the focus of the second part of the evening. The soloist made the piece sound more like jazz than classical, which was perhaps even closer to gershwin’s intention. After all, gershwin was a manic tempo-driver with mad virtuoso skills. Its chords pound, its rhythmic intensity is sometimes reminiscent of a steam engine. The orchestra whipped the whole thing massively forward with well-dosed, but insistent effects.
Then there was gershwin again, his wonderful "summertime" from the opera "porgy and bess", first performed in 1935, dramatically and at the highest level performed by the clarinettist of the orchestra.
Bernstein’s ear candy
At the end of the musical summer trip there was on the one hand a remembrance of the great composer and conductor leonard bernstein, whose 100th birthday was celebrated on the occasion of his death. The anniversary of his death is commemorated by the music world this year. The symphonic dances from the "west side story" were performed, one of the most successful and best-known compositions of the 20th century. The orchestra whipped around the. Devotedly and passionately ljubka biagioni let this work sound, completely in the sense of bernstein in a groovy sound language combined with explosive gestures. Here again there are echoes of real earworms like "somewhere", "maria" or "tonight.
At the end there was great applause for the musicians and their conductor, who will be back again next year at the plassenburg-open-airs.