Rassegna Stampa

testata: The Daily Star


21/03/11
Al-Bustan Festival takes on Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’ at St. Joseph Jesuit Church (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

BEIRUT: A running gag in seminal sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” depicts various animated subjects – whether a stern churchman, hectoring his congregation, or fluffy bunnies dancing about in a ring – crushed by a giant foot descending from the sky. Some people lead lives of such calamity that the giant crushing foot seems an apt existential metaphor. Take Czech romantic composer Antonin Dvorak. Falling madly in love with his piano student Josefina Cermakova, he was spurned and eventually had to make do with her sister, Anna. The couple had a baby daughter who died after 48 hours. Two years later, while their 3-year-old son succumbed to smallpox, the Dvoraks’ 11-month-old daughter accidentally drank a lethal phosphorous solution. Where else for a composer to turn but the “Stabat Mater?” A Roman Catholic hymn dealing with the Virgin Mary’s sorrows over her own child’s untimely demise, its verses have inspired countless composers, from Palestrina to Poulenc to Part. Written over 1876-7, Dvorak’s hour-and-a-half-long elegy is the longest of the “Stabat Mater” canon. Al-Bustan Festival took up the gauntlet Friday, amassing the Antonine University choir, the choir of the National Conservatoire, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and soloists from the Tbilisi State Opera for a performance at St. Joseph’s Jesuit Church. Replete with imagery of tears, flowing blood and horrifying torture, a performance of “Stabat Mater” is never going to be a jolly evening out. Al-Bustan Festival, however, is never too down in the mouth. The atmosphere at St. Joseph’s was positively festive, with a small forest of evergreen trees flanking the performers and hundreds of candles flickering from the church’s upper galleries. Besides, there’s Dvorak’s lush, romantic orchestration to cushion the blow. Its frequent use of the major key emphasizes hope and redemption as well as sorrow and lamentation. Festival president Myrna Bustani, resplendent in mauve, opened with a sassy little speech reminding the audience of classical protocol: Don’t clap in between the 10 parts of the hymn; save applause until the conductor has dropped his baton; switch off mobile phones. Obviously impressed, Friday’s audiences obeyed these strictures to the letter. They were rewarded with a splendid rendition of Dvorak’s lament. Beginning on a single sustained note, the LPO, under the baton of Al-Bustan music director Gianluca Marciano, weighed in with a haunting melody in the minor key. Soon the choristers entered the action, intoning the titular lyrics “Stabat mater dolorosa” (The sorrowful mother stood) over and over with ever more complex harmonies. Urged on by choirmaster Toufic Maatouk, the singers created a vast meringue-like edifice of sound. Up popped young tenor Irakli Murjikneli like a downstage jack-in-a-box. Of all the singers, Murjikneli’s voice was the most inherently melancholic. Dripping with sadness, he stood with palms outstretched, pleading to share the sorrows of Mother Mary. Other solo roles were occupied by soprano Irine Taboridze, bass Legi Imedashvili and mezzo-soprano Sofio Janelidze, whose ample bosom was barely contained by a low-cut dress. Members of the Tbilisi State Opera, the soloists were in town for the company’s performance of Mozart’s early opera “Mitridate” at Al-Bustan on Thursday and Saturday nights. All four put in fine performances. Taboridze in particular had several show-stopping moments with her Doppler-effect voice, starting a note almost at a whisper before steadily increasing the volume to a lung-defying loudness. Soloists, choirs and orchestra combined for the spectacular ending of “Stabat Mater,” which expires in a great volley of Amens. Singers vied against one another using every trick in the vocal book – runs, trills and leaps – so that Amens seemed to be hurled from every cranny of St. Joseph’s interior. Reaching a thunderous crescendo, all apocalyptic ardor suddenly melted as choristers sounded a plangent, calming note, soon fading out to allow a serene string section to bring “Stabat Mater” to a hopeful close. Thus fortified, Friday’s audience stumbled out into the night, ready to cope with any giant foot that might come crashing from the sky. Al-Bustan festival continues Tuesday with an appearance from the Sofia Orthodox Choir at St George Cathedral. For more information, visit www.albustanfestival.com. Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Music/Mar/21/The-mother-of-all-lamentations.ashx#ixzz1LMyQyAFx (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb) BEIRUT: A running gag in seminal sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” depicts various animated subjects – whether a stern churchman, hectoring his congregation, or fluffy bunnies dancing about in a ring – crushed by a giant foot descending from the sky. Some people lead lives of such calamity that the giant crushing foot seems an apt existential metaphor. Take Czech romantic composer Antonin Dvorak. Falling madly in love with his piano student Josefina Cermakova, he was spurned and eventually had to make do with her sister, Anna. The couple had a baby daughter who died after 48 hours. Two years later, while their 3-year-old son succumbed to smallpox, the Dvoraks’ 11-month-old daughter accidentally drank a lethal phosphorous solution. Where else for a composer to turn but the “Stabat Mater?” A Roman Catholic hymn dealing with the Virgin Mary’s sorrows over her own child’s untimely demise, its verses have inspired countless composers, from Palestrina to Poulenc to Part. Written over 1876-7, Dvorak’s hour-and-a-half-long elegy is the longest of the “Stabat Mater” canon. Al-Bustan Festival took up the gauntlet Friday, amassing the Antonine University choir, the choir of the National Conservatoire, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and soloists from the Tbilisi State Opera for a performance at St. Joseph’s Jesuit Church. Replete with imagery of tears, flowing blood and horrifying torture, a performance of “Stabat Mater” is never going to be a jolly evening out. Al-Bustan Festival, however, is never too down in the mouth. The atmosphere at St. Joseph’s was positively festive, with a small forest of evergreen trees flanking the performers and hundreds of candles flickering from the church’s upper galleries. Besides, there’s Dvorak’s lush, romantic orchestration to cushion the blow. Its frequent use of the major key emphasizes hope and redemption as well as sorrow and lamentation. Festival president Myrna Bustani, resplendent in mauve, opened with a sassy little speech reminding the audience of classical protocol: Don’t clap in between the 10 parts of the hymn; save applause until the conductor has dropped his baton; switch off mobile phones. Obviously impressed, Friday’s audiences obeyed these strictures to the letter. They were rewarded with a splendid rendition of Dvorak’s lament. Beginning on a single sustained note, the LPO, under the baton of Al-Bustan music director Gianluca Marciano, weighed in with a haunting melody in the minor key. Soon the choristers entered the action, intoning the titular lyrics “Stabat mater dolorosa” (The sorrowful mother stood) over and over with ever more complex harmonies. Urged on by choirmaster Toufic Maatouk, the singers created a vast meringue-like edifice of sound. Up popped young tenor Irakli Murjikneli like a downstage jack-in-a-box. Of all the singers, Murjikneli’s voice was the most inherently melancholic. Dripping with sadness, he stood with palms outstretched, pleading to share the sorrows of Mother Mary. Other solo roles were occupied by soprano Irine Taboridze, bass Legi Imedashvili and mezzo-soprano Sofio Janelidze, whose ample bosom was barely contained by a low-cut dress. Members of the Tbilisi State Opera, the soloists were in town for the company’s performance of Mozart’s early opera “Mitridate” at Al-Bustan on Thursday and Saturday nights. All four put in fine performances. Taboridze in particular had several show-stopping moments with her Doppler-effect voice, starting a note almost at a whisper before steadily increasing the volume to a lung-defying loudness. Soloists, choirs and orchestra combined for the spectacular ending of “Stabat Mater,” which expires in a great volley of Amens. Singers vied against one another using every trick in the vocal book – runs, trills and leaps – so that Amens seemed to be hurled from every cranny of St. Joseph’s interior. Reaching a thunderous crescendo, all apocalyptic ardor suddenly melted as choristers sounded a plangent, calming note, soon fading out to allow a serene string section to bring “Stabat Mater” to a hopeful close. Thus fortified, Friday’s audience stumbled out into the night, ready to cope with any giant foot that might come crashing from the sky. Al-Bustan festival continues Tuesday with an appearance from the Sofia Orthodox Choir at St George Cathedral. For more information, visit www.albustanfestival.com.

di Matthew Mosley



indietro