Souvenirs and other fireworks

Apr 29, 2017

Classic Estonian conductor Risto Joost invigorated the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra. Celebration in the Kornhaus. ‘Souvenir de Florence’ is a string sextet by Peter Tchaikovsky, and that is exactly how it sounds: very nice. Pleasant palm court music. However, conductor Risto Joost did not bring souvenirs to the 4th Ulm Concert by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra; it was more like dynamite. The performance was captivating. From the first beat the musicians played with full alertness; they were on the edge: the allegro con spirito with intensified tempo, the finale extremely lively. At no time did the Tchaikovsky piece come across as merely effect-seeking, rather musically existential. In the adagio Joost magically created the most beautiful cantilenas with his string orchestra – cellist Gabriel Faur was in a class of his own. 36-year-old Joost comes from Estonia; he is also a countertenor and truly an icon in his hometown Tallinn; since 2015, he has managed the MDR radio choir in Leipzig. One might call it a famous Estonian choir school: Joost breathes with the orchestra. He demonstrates enormous body tension and has great charisma and witticism. Well, if Joost is not one of the aspirants in Heilbronn to succeed the departing principal conductor Rüben Gazarian in 2018 …. Great Schubert Opera ‘Stimmengold/Golden Voice’ was the title of the concert: the golden blond Mojca Erdmann wore fitting golden shoes, her evening dress enhanced by gold applications. Her performance of six songs by Franz Schubert was brilliant. This certainly was not tender romantic but indeed great opera, with the not particularly exciting string orchestra accompaniment (by Hans-Klaus Langer). What one could admire was the emotional and in every situation flowing first-class soprano. The opera’s start made a mini-drama out of ‘Gretchen am Spinnrad’, and Mojca Erdmann twice sung the ‘Heidenröslein’ – even bolder and boisterously in the encore. Risto Joost also brought two works from his home country with him: at the beginning, five beautiful pieces from the late Romantic period for string orchestra by Heino Eller (1887-1970), an elegiac and impressive presentation, especially the ‘Heimatliche Weise/Homelike Tone’. Then followed theatrical fun by Jonas Tarm, ‘Yellow Media’: a string orchestra imitated a turbulent press conference, followed by lots of cheers.