Not even two indisputable stars – young and very experienced – will necessarily make yesterday’s opening evening of the Dvořák Prague Classical Music Festival an extraordinary event.
The opening of the 12th year of the successful show was entrusted to Christez Eschenbach, an early 80-year-old conductor’s legend, and to the 27-year-old cellist Kian Soltani. Together with the program from Dvořák’s most attractive works, they were the magnets of the opening concert from Prague Rudolfina Czech Television broadcast live.
Guests from Turin, the Orchestra Sinfonice Nazionale della Rai, the oldest radio and television ensemble in Italy, also raised expectations. He is accompanied by a respectable history, a number of great personalities with whom he has collaborated, and recordings he has made.
But which amazed the visiting of their compatriots from Rome at this year’s Prague Spring, the people of Turin introduced themselves yesterday in a not very friendly light. All the performances of the 80-member ensemble are accompanied by chaos, which one may initially indulgently understand as a national color, but still only disturb it. Then just one piece of horn player in the most exposed place and it’s all pouring in.
Antonín Dvořák’s cello concerto in B minor is a jewel of international stages, played from Alaska to Tokyo, and is part of the mandatory equipment of cellists. And above all, the well-prepared, relaxed sovereign soloist Kian Soltani caressed every note, the orchestra seemed to not notice it at all.
The accompaniment is extremely demanding in this concert, due to the frequent changes of tempo and color instruments. Unfortunately, the body often drowned out the cellist, the moments of harmony with which Dvořák deliberately interwoven the score were missing.
Tutti sounded hysterically loud, lacking proportions and development. Dvořák obviously does not belong to the main repertoire of the orchestra, this is the only way to explain the carelessness of the performance. Or maybe an insufficient number of tests?
After the pause, Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony was played, an original composition that is grateful for both players and listeners. Several philharmonic orchestras, especially in the woods, demonstrated their virtuoso qualities. There were nice moments, such as silence in the second movement, but in comparison with the performances of not only domestic orchestras, this one did not escape.
Opening of Dvořák’s Prague
Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai
Christoph Eschenbach – conductor
Kian Soltani – cello
Rudolfinum, Prague, September 8
Christoph Eschenbach is a man whose charisma and strength lie in penetrating gaze, not big gestures. Perhaps this magic works better with German orchestras, where it is a frequent host, and it does not work as much in Italy.
On the contrary, yesterday, the grateful audience of Dvořák’s Prague demanded an allowance, and after the infernally fast final from Mendelssohn’s Italian, they frantically applauded and stood up. Which could be a satisfaction for the artist – if not for the fact that orchestral concerts always end in this way in Prague today.