The singularity that has always adorned this Greek conductor who lives in the Russian city of Novosivirsk, where he founded the MusicaAeterna Orchestra years ago, continues to be one of the traits that adorn his artistic personality; and human. Now, we believe, with a greater depth of maturity, of criteria, of pause. Although Teodor Currentzis is a master of extremes; and genius. In such a way that sometimes, even if we do not fully understand his approaches, which at certain moments we can consider somewhat mannered and always very personal, we end up assuming them, such is the enthusiasm, dedication, sincerity and virtuosity with which he offers them.
He is a fidgety conductor, who does not handle a baton, who adopts the most diverse positions on the podium: now crouching, now stretching, now swaying, now walking in the narrow ring. He does not leave, of course, indifferent. And less to his musicians, who work like clockwork at the slightest indication from him; which are abundant and constant. He manifests a continually stirring fire. Although in certain and deliquescent moments he knows how to calm down and subsume himself in the musical current.
We have had a clear demonstration of all this in these two concerts, in which death, infinity, gradual extinction, in some friendly cases, have been shown raw. Slow, winding measure by measure, Richard Strauss’s «Metamorphoses» were played with maximum concentration, with a smooth and soft sound throughout an exhibition that highlighted the contrapuntal values organized around the sediment of the «Funeral March» of the Beethoven’s “Eroica Symphony”. Slow, pinpoint, painful exposure.
Then, with Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique”, another universe logically arose in which excesses had their place: exaggerated silences, unexpected ruptures in discourse, irresistible escalations, overwhelming fortissimos were building step by step the kaleidoscopic “Adagio, Allegro ma non tropo». The irruption of the tempestuous third theme was impressive, as was the subsequent recollection in search of a restatement. The orchestral filling was magnificent, despite the relative timbre quality of the metals, which blew like damned. The obsessions, the danceable memories, the exultant marches and the pessimistic elongations rounded out the version. The fourth movement had what it should have and was, in effect, a dark goodbye that ends up plunging into nothingness. Currentzis, which has evolved towards agogic and timbre exquisiteness, spun very finely, achieving pianissimos with an almost extraterrestrial softness.
Great final triumph, with all the musicians on their feet, and not just the violins, violas, woodwinds and brass, who play like that, without sitting down –another originality– for the whole time. In this way, a breeding ground had been created and the foundations had been laid for the second concert, occupied by a single work, Mahler’s “Ninth Symphony”. An overwhelming page that, through a complicated, changing, sometimes exultant route, gradually dissolves from an immense first movement in which the tonality does not settle down in a route that keeps us in suspense and that, after the two intermediate movements, a Ländler and a corrosive Scherzo, lead us to a conclusive Andante that resignedly bathes in a foretold death.
Currentzis knew how to see all this clearly from the exquisite pianissimo at the beginning, in which clarity, always threatened, gradually opens up. Impeccable ascent towards the tremendous first fortissimo with the main theme waving in the four winds. Excellent planning and remarkable clarity of textures, with well achieved foggy areas. The second movement marked the logical contrast. Pointillism of the best law, well marked accentuation. The “Rondó-Burleske” began to walk in a wild and violent way, with logical zones of stillness and a spectacular closing, marked by the great agogic contrast.
And, finally, the «Adagio», opened with that great phrase of the bows, wide and mournful, elaborated, elaborated, varied and sung measure by measure in this version. Contrabassoon, violins on a string. Wide, and exaggerated, silences and elongations. Very strong impression in the last and desperate ascent towards the heights and extreme withdrawal in the last bars, in a stealthy pianissimo, perhaps excessive, which was not fully perceived taking into account the acoustics of the hall. In case something was missing, in the midst of the terrifying “diminuendo”, two cell phones rang. Currentzis did not break down: skillfully he spread his arms wide and held the music in suspense. In the end, bravo for the audience, also exemplary in the first concert, almost a minute before the applause, only started when the director lowered his arms.