Jakub Hrusa and Beatrice Rana – Florestan and Eusebius unite and ignite La Befana in Rome

A New Year concert with the dynamic man of the moment Jakub Hrusa.
The heir to Pappano,inheriting ‘his’ orchestra in Rome which he has nurtured and turned into one of the finest orchestras on the world stage An orchestral body that actually listens to itself as over the past twenty years they have worked and played together as equals.
Just as Simon Rattle had done in Birmingham in his formative years.
Jakub is also taking over Covent Garden in London in 2025 whilst our adored Maestro takes over the reigns from Simon Rattle of the London Symphony Orchestra.One of the truly great orchestras of the world.
Two Knights in shining armour indeed.

Thanking the orchestra by shaking the hand of its superb leader Carlo Maria Parazzoli

From the very first notes of Der Freischutz with its whispered asides,at times barely audible,bursting into joyous operatic outpourings of popular mellifluous sounds of brass band proportions .Driven with dynamic energy,Jakub urging his players on to give as much passionate involvement as he was demonstrating on the podium with ever more ferocious strokes and athleticism.
He stoked the flames of his players though always with intelligent musicianship and a overall sense of architectural shape.

Beatrice in her flaming red dress offering an encore of Scriabin Prelude in B minor op 11

Beatrice Rana is an artist in residence both here in Rome and at the historic Wigmore Hall in London.It was in a recent recital there that she unleashed a tornado with a Hammerklavier of breathtaking proportions – an all or nothing outpouring of dynamism and intelligence.
I have not seen the like since Serkin took London by storm and was left holding the final chord of the mighty fugue still kicking and spitting.A passionate participation that had exhausted not only him but an audience hypnotised by such a force of nature.

Friends and a musical complicity that made for a memorable combination

Tonight she chose the more passive world of Eusebius ,Schumann’s dreaming poet,leaving the dynamism of Florestan to her simpatico partner.
Hers was the communing of a selfless chamber music player only occasionally allowing herself to raise her head with shows of great virtuosity.
She had shown us at the beginning of the season her virtuosity and dynamism in the concerto by the 16 year old future mother of Robert’s 8 children.

Today it was the turn of the mature genius of Clara’s husband ,the poet Robert.
A world inhabited by psychic problems and conflicts.Demonstrated by his double personality with the meek Eusebius and the rumbustuous Florestan. Genius is never easy to live with and Robert after attempting suicide entered an asylum where his days were numbered .
He left the ever courageous Clara with a family of numerous siblings and a career that was to last 61 years as one of the first women virtuosi of her age.
The difference between the youthful prodigy Clara and the mature poet Robert was an abyss which accounts for the neglect of Clara’s large but mostly uninspired compositions.
Beatrice showed us the exquisite poetry in the music of Robert from the very opening where she replied to the orchestras opening with phrasing of timeless beauty.

A musical conversation with an orchestra that was listening as attentively as she,and both responding with unusual poetic intimacy.
Even at the end of the cadenza where for an instant Beatrice’s command of the piano and its overwhelming sonorities allowed a moment of flaming glory.It was to dissolve into counterpoints usually in lesser hands of knotty twine.In her hands today they were glistening layers of sound that moved inexorably to the energy that was to bring us to the close of this movement.
A fantasy that he had written for his Clara and only later added two movements to complete the concerto we know and love today.
Beatrice was in dreamy mood today and although the Intermezzo was ravishingly beautiful I found it more whispy and capricious rather than simply grazioso.
Continuing her ever more intimate conversations with the superb solists of this great orchestra.Luigi Piovano we know is a great cellist and he was matched today by the magnificence of the wind players with Andrea Oliva,flute;Francesco Di Rosa,oboe;the superb clarinet of Stefano Novelli and the horn of Alessio Bernardi.

Interesting to note from the very informative programme of past performances with the orchestra

This was Hausmusik shared with an intimacy and flexibility that is rare to find away from an intimate salon.
I think that the recording will be even more effective rather than in this vast hall which calls for what Richter used to call ‘the good old professional cantabile’to project and maintain the musical line.
Richter was referring to Rubinstein whose playing he adored and who I had heard many times playing this concerto.
Rubinstein had a ‘diaphragm’ that could transmit his love to the first row with the same intimacy as those in ‘paradiso’ (the Gods or loggione)!
A secret learnt by a lifetime communicating with an adoring public as Beatrice too will find on her magic carpet that is flying ever higher.
Beatrice sacrificed the rhythmic precision of the opening statement of the Allegro vivace for a smoother more eloquent style where her intricate weaving in and out of the orchestra was a ravishing web of golden sounds.
Even the final statement in octaves was shaped and phrased with the timeless poetry that had pervaded the whole of todays wondrous performance.

The distinguished critic Simonetta Allder with Christopher Axworthy

As to Jakub Hrusa’s mind blowing account of Beethoven’s ‘apotheosis of the dance’ I can do no better than quote my distinguished colleague Simonetta Allder :’As for the sheer energy of Beethoven’s Seventh played by the Santa Cecilia Orchestra under the baton of Jakub Hrusa, I feared for a moment that the entire Orchestra was going to explode, and the whole Auditorium would literally blow up, with a mind-shattering display of Twelfth Night fireworks going off in all directions, visible all the way to the moon! ‘
Pages of the score and even finally the baton were victims of this assault.

An energy that was unleashed without any timidity.Beethoven’s irascible temperament shared by our ‘man of the moment’.
It was a riveting account of a work that we have known and loved for a lifetime .An electric injection of energy, subtle colouring and phrasing that made this Seventh Symphony shine like a newly minted masterpiece.
The famous Allegretto was played with an unrelenting rhythmic energy that I am not used to and I did rather miss the calm between the stormier movements.
It was played though with such overwhelming authority that any petty comments of that sort become totally irrelevant.

Beatrice offered only one encore.Could it have been by Clara Schumann or even worse Fanny Mendelssohn or Medtner?Whatever it was she,like all great artists,with her magic wand could turn any bauble into a gem!!!!I learn this morning.however,that it was the Prelude in B minor op 11 by Scriabin……his 24 Preludes op 11 are a much neglected masterpiece and that would explain her sublime performance too.

Beatrice too as a teenager was discovered in the class of Benedetto Lupo …small world …….and La Puglia baciata da Dio

Carissimo Christopher, 

Grazie davvero per la tua mail e per le tue parole sul “mio” 3° di Rachmaninoff! 

Spero di rivederti prossimamente, purtroppo per me era impossibile venire a Roma in questi giorni per sentire Beatrice, dopodomani ho un recital al Teatro Verdi di Trieste con un programma completamente diverso, formulato specialmente per ricordare il primo recital della Società dei concerti di Trieste di 90 anni fa, con Carlo Zecchi al pianoforte

Nella prima parte suonerò Schumann Kinderszenen (una delle pochissime registrazioni disponibili di Zecchi) e Kreisleriana (che Zecchi suonò a Trieste 90 anni fa), in seconda parte l’omaggio sarà più personale perchè ricorderà il prima brano che io suonai per Zecchi da ragazzino, Debussy Images première série… all’epoca era al suo corso di perfezionamento a Sorrento, Francesco Canessa scriveva per il Mattino di Napoli ed era venuto a trovare Zecchi, rimase così colpito che ne scrisse subito dopo sul Mattino! Io avevo appena compiuto 15 anni, non sapevo neanche chi fosse Francesco Canessa, immaginati quando parecchi anni dopo me lo sono ritrovato davanti come sovrintendente al San Carlo quando vi debuttai con la Burleske di Strauss! 

Ti allego anche il vecchissimo articolo che sono riuscito a ritrovare per questa occasione; davvero altri tempi per i quotidiani, per fortuna che ci sono ancora persone come te che ogni tanto parlano dei giovani… e dei meno giovani!

Porta i miei migliori auguri a Noretta e al marito, un abbraccio a te e spero di rivederti presto,



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