Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Shor and Chagall for the unenl ightened and the most sophisticated...
As is known, any artist creates a special reality in their art, which is definitely full of original ideas; it is being experienced with special emotions and it shines with inimitable colours. Deeply personal and, at the same time, eternal topics become archetypes associated with a certain epoch and style of art.
Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Shor… One day before closing, the Malta International Music Festival presented to the public a symphonic opus for cello and orchestra. The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra was conducted by the talented conductor Tigran Akhnazaryan – brother of the famous cellist Narek Akhnazaryan – who has a great conducting experience as an art director of several Russian orchestras and as an invited maestro. The excellent education (Tigran Akhnazaryan had an internship at the Saint-Petersburg State Conservatory with the legendary Ilja Musin), austere conductor’s gestures, and total engagement. In the first composition – Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture – it was already possible to see that the conductor confidently led the orchestra…
According to Tchaikovsky, Shakespeare’s famous tragedy was the “great genius drama”. A lot of descriptive music was performed at the Malta Music Festival, but Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture became a real apex of the festival concert biennale. The slow-paced choral introduction – the image of the Medieval times or, as it is generally understood, of Father Lorenzo, one of the main characters who played an important role in the life of the two young lovers – was performed thoughtfully, profoundly, and with great feelings. The musicians managed to communicate the confusion of the “lonely soul aspiring to heaven”. The main themes of the exposition were performed artistically and passionately, as well as the gem of the symphonic lyricism of Tchaikovsky – the theme of love that was characterized by Rimsky-Korsakov in the following way: “It is so inspiring! Such undefinable beauty, such vibrant passion!” The vehement development sounded with unbelievable bitterness, impulsively and dramatically. The conductor and the orchestra did their best, having demonstrated the integrity of dramatic development and the intense struggle of Love and Death images…
The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in E Minor, Op. 85 was performed in one breath by the famous cellist Narek Akhnazaryan. Sir Edward William Elgar conquered the audience with the austerity of narration and deeply shattered feelings. The semantic arch – the English composer’s devotion to the traditions of Tchaikovsky, Dvořák and Grieg – was tracing the dramatic line of the whole evening.
The cello recitative is, in its way, the voice of the author telling us about the tragedies of World War I. The inherently romantic image of the soloist was restrained, and the performance was full of determination and power! The second serene part was played with a great technical skill; it was obvious that between the conductor and soloists there is an intense cohesion and absolute connection. The further dramatic development was spiralling up and we saw new colours in the solo image and a unique inspiration in the spirit of Florestan by Schumann. In the Concerto finale the performers managed to illuminate both the deep tragedy and the noble grandeur…
Alexey Shor… It was the idea of Narek Akhnazaryan to combine the three pieces for cello and orchestra: Lament – Melancholy – Lonely Sail into a mini cycle. According to the cellist, “this is amazing melodious music, which is, unfortunately, quite a rare thing nowadays … It is important that it is accessible to any listener, and his background does not play any difference: from the most unenlightened to the most sophisticated… And this is its value; it is imbedded in this simplicity and minimalism. And I would compare it with minimalism in art…”. It took some time for minimalism in painting to make a statement as a separate art movement. The laconic and simple forms of the new movement sparked the interest of the public. It seems that the simple and natural forms cannot mean anything apart from themselves, but every person sees them differently. The main objective is to create the right feeling generated by the pictures. The three pieces by Shor, three different sentiments. Visual artists use the full power of colours to bring this effect, and the composer has different means of expression – tonality and orchestral colours.
Lament precisely corresponds to the spirit of a composition for cello. It is distinguished by passionate statements, expressive intonations, and, at the same time, subdued lyrical breathing.
Narek Akhnazaryan associates Melancholy with the early works of Marc Chagall. “There is something unfathomable in them, universal…”
The minimalism of Alexey Shor, in our opinion, is manifested in the tender quiet melody charged with lyricism that is deeply understood by the performer. “I do not do anything different but express my thoughts in this language, like all those people who were around me in my childhood”, wrote Marc Chagall.
Lonely Sail is in a different tonality; this is a piece of landscape contemplation, quiet tranquility, and elevated feelings. The calm sea is like a sheet of glass… How one can fail to recall the paintings of the famous Ivan Aivazovsky, baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian?
The composer used his favourite form of recurrent dynamic development in the pieces of this cycle. They are excellently orchestrated; we hear the soft velvety voice of the orchestra.
The solo always adds new colours to the image of the performer… The encore demonstrated the excellent technique of the musician, his finest pianissimo and transparent sound. The audience was applauding!
And in the evening, the square of Valletta, the European Capital of Culture, was lit up with myriads of festive lights; and the bay was sparkling with the fantastic fireworks show!