Wednesday 05 December, 2018

“Brilliant” orchestra on the banks of the Danube

“Brilliant” orchestra on the banks of the Danube

The Basque National Orchestra kicked off its international tour yesterday with an outstanding performance in the Austrian city of Linz.

With the permission of Anton Bruckner—the Linz native to whom the Brucknerhaus concert hall owes its name—our orchestra opened yesterday’s concert in the Upper Austrian capital with Meditación by Aita Donostia. Hearing and performing the work of this Basque composer on the banks of the Danube is immensely exciting for the orchestra. Even more so for someone baptised by him, as Elena Martínez de Murguía, violist in the orchestra, who listened attentively to the work written for organ by her great uncle in 1908 which, subsequently orchestrated, was the first piece played by the orchestra in Linz. This was also the first time that the orchestra performed this short, delicate work which invites the listener to withdraw.

 

Elgar gate-crashed in Linz

 

The concert programme suffered a mishap. The soprano Mojca Erdmann—on tour with us, and who gave a solo performance of Mozart in the first part of the programme—took ill at midday and was not fit to tackle the entire programme, instead saving her strength for Mahler’s Fourth Symphony during the second part. Elgar's Enigma Variations had been kept back for the first part of the Munich concert but, making a virtue out of necessity, were summoned early to the music stands in Linz to follow Aita Donostia in the first part of this concert. The orchestra had rehearsed this work well, having performed it all last week as part of their concert season. The musicians therefore adapted confidently to this change and let loose these fourteen variations which evoke the British composer’s friends and helped him achieve fame. The organist Bernhard Prammer, ready to perform Mozart, also swapped his sheet music for the Enigma Variations and gave a voice to the concert hall’s organ. With almost 4000 pipes, it adds great character to the space.

 

Mahler and more for the second half

 

The excellent acoustics of the Brucknerhaus in Linz helped the orchestra give a stellar performance of Mahler’s Fourth under the leadership of our lead conductor, Robert Treviño. Mojca Erdmann joined us during the fourth movement of the symphony for the home straight in which Mahler uses the soprano voice to allude to the enjoyment of heavenly life. The public responded, applauded and dubbed the sound of the Basque orchestra—which has been invited to take part in the Internationale Orchester concert series—as “brilliant”. After a two-hour performance, true to form, the orchestra rounded off the evening with a zarzuela encore, performing the Intermezzo from Giménez's La boda de Luis Alonso.

With the concert hall now empty, the dressing rooms of the Brucknerhaus filled with excitement and joy, multiple congratulations between the musicians and the concert organisers, and the immense satisfaction of the lead conductor. This is Robert Treviño’s first international tour as lead conductor of an orchestra—one which “flows through his veins”—and in Linz at least he has been hailed as “brilliant”.

Now it's time to enjoy this Austrian city and start thinking ahead to Munich, where the Herkulessaal concert and a challenging test await on Thursday, December 6th at 8 pm.

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