Posted By kerryturner on July 21, 2007
Well, it finally arrived- VACATION! The concert last night with the Luxembourg Philharmonic here at the beautiful Philharmonie concert hall in Luxembourg was a success. We were the practice orchestra for a conductor workshop that lasted 2 weeks. The students worked with Nagy Zsolt and Peter Eötvös on various conducting techniques and musical ideas on three difficult works: Eötvös “Zero Points”, the Schoenberg “Five Pieces for Orchestra” and Bartok‘s “Concerto for Orchestra”. Yesterday evening, each of the candidates conducted a different movement and they all did quite well. Interestingly enough they all seemed to be rather surprised about how good this orchestra is. I suppose that has something to do with the world‘s somewhat obscure knowledge about Luxembourg itself. Most people simply don‘t know much about the place at all. But I, for one, was really rather pleased to see and hear the reactions from not only the student conductors but from the masters Nagy Zsolt and Peter Eötvös themselves. The Luxembourg Philharmonic (Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg) is indeed a very strong orchestra with virtually no weak players (well, there are one or two). And if at times we seem to slack off during rehearsals, something conductors from America seem to seriously dislike, we pull out all the stops in the concerts!
A note about the Schoenberg “Five Pieces for Orchestra”: this is a masterpiece! Schoenbergs ability to capture a feeling, mood or color, no matter how vague and intangible, is truly superb. I particularly love the second movement which is entitled “Vergangenes” (the translation on the music is “Yesteryears”). The orchestration is stunning. Schoenberg paints distant memories on several different levels, much like I have tried to do in some of my works (Six Lives of Jack McBride, Postcards from Lucca- Portrait of Puccini, Rhapsody for Nonet). The “Hauptthemen” and “Nebenthemen” sew the piece together, but they are by no means the feature elements. If you have ever sat perfectly still, someplace quiet, and for a moment tried to relive a very distant childhood memory and then blended that into, say, old photos of family reunions and pondering the destinies of school chums from whom you‘ve lost all contact, you could get an idea of what this movement sounds like. The other movements are splendid as well, masterfully composed “still lifes”. At the end of the performance last night, I was struck by one thought: I wish I could compose like that!