Mystical Prague in the world premiere and Dalene’s virtuosity – the Czech Philharmonic concert satisfied even the most demanding listeners
He chose only twenty-two artists for the extremely demanding Prague audience Sibelius Concerto for violin and orchestra in D minor, Op. 47. It is a composition of more than half an hour long, while the soloist is hardly allowed to rest, his hands are constantly occupied with the leading line and countless bravura passages, running up and down the fingerboard. Sibelius himself was a violinist, and he filled the part of the concerto with considerable virtuosity, to the point that one wonders in his mind whether he has imposed too much on his performers.
Johan Dalen however, he coped with all the challenges and technical difficulties with ease and elegance. His playing is characterized by delicacy and natural perfection, excellent work with the right hand and bow, unmistakable intonation and running speed in the left hand (cadence in the first movement, rousing third movement). In the highest positions, his violin sang as sweetly as a nightingale, its sweet tone giving away that it was a rare instrument from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari in 1736.
Johan Dalene is extremely musical and modest (he performs dressed casually in a shirt) and nothing is further from him than flamboyant virtuosity, even on Sibelius he could highlight it. No, don’t expect any triumphant gestures, captivating looks or cracking hair under the onslaught of dynamism. He subordinates everything to the expression of the music, concentrating with his head bowed, listening to the voice of his violin and the poetry of Sibelius’s nostalgic music. When necessary, he leans energetically into the strings, at other times he silences the cantilena or flagolets to the point of audibility. The audience didn’t even breathe and the orchestra followed the soloist’s dynamics with equal care and sensitivity. She prepared interesting moments in the third movement, when the violins play with the timpani or when the orchestra mixes with the tight sound of coordinated mountains.
Dalen has been performing since the age of seven, is a welcome guest in the most prestigious concert halls, and has already won Diapasond´Orprize of Gramofon magazine “Editor’s Choice”title of the ECHO organization “Rising star”. His first guest appearance with Czech Philharmonic he succeeded, you could see how happy and grateful he was for the audience’s rapturous applause. He played as an encore Gavotte from Bach 3rd suite in E major, BWV 1006.
She was waiting for us after the break Prague Symphony Detlev Glanert (1960). Behind the creation of the work is the author’s friendship with Semjon Byčkov, who has pledged to present living authors in Prague in addition to the traditional repertoire. Glanert is a recognized opera composer, and singing plays a leading role in this novel as well. Rather than a symphony, it is formally 12 lyric fragments, if you will, songs for mezzo-soprano, bass and orchestra. Although the title is reminiscent of the sunny world of Mozart’s music, Glanert turned to another, darker and mystical icon of Prague culture – he set the texts of Franz Kafka to music. The ingenious composition of excerpts from letters, short stories, novels, notes in notebooks creates a new story, presented from ideas, dreams, images, which is imbued with a decadent dreamlike atmosphere.
Detlev Glanert’s musical language is based on the Second Viennese School (his teacher was Hanz Werner Henze), but he is not guided by strict atonality, his modernly formed melodies are filled with emotion and the orchestra sounds as full as in the time of Mahler and Strauss. He also often uses sound painting or symbolism (for example, falling figures when he sings about human decay and entering hell). The orchestra was equipped with a large number of drums that we do not even normally know: gongs, bells, various rattles and others. They were not there for self-serving effect, the composer uses the instrumentation of the ensemble with great imagination, creating impressive combinations and colors. Ghostly moods, oppressive tremolo, grotesquely distorted motifs alternate with waves of epic breadth and tense dynamics. The music speaks and tells.
Two singers – a Scottish mezzo-soprano – stood at the head of the massive apparatus Catriona Morison (debuting with the Czech Philharmonic) and a German bass-baritone Christian Immler. Both were excellent, precise in rhythm, in duets as one, perfect in interplay with the orchestra. Morison has a pleasant-sounding, cultivated voice that sounds triumphant in the highs, her heroin finesse lifting people out of their seats. Immler’s speech was just as decisive, energetic and easy to understand. Both were very well heard by the roaring orchestra. Semjon Byčkov, in addition to his inspiration, face and rhythmic precision, and the excellent level of his staging of a modern piece, greatly benefited him. It was an experience for the audience, the present author could be really satisfied. I think it would be his Prague Symphony could become an important work of the world repertoire.
Rating of the author of the review 90%.
Czech Philharmonic – Johan Dalene
December 8, 2022, 7:30 p.m
Rudolfinum – Dvořák Hall
Jean Sibelius: Concerto for violin and orchestra in D minor, Op. 47
Detlev Glanert: Prague Symphony (world premiere)
Johan Dalene – violin
Catriona Morison – mezzo-soprano
Christian Immler – bass-baritone
Semjon Byčkov – conductor
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra