A large-scale tour of the musicAeterna Orchestra of the Perm Opera, which was supported by the Aksenov Family Foundation and the Society of Russian Friends of the Salzburg Festival, has finished in Salzburg. Dmitry Renansky listened to nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven conducted by Theodor Currentzis.
The super plot of the Salzburg 2018 symphony poster is a renewal of traditions. Quartermaster Markus Hinterhauser, at the end of the festival, knocked their foreheads against the guardians of European orchestral values and daring neophytes: the Berlin Philharmonics, who are performing for the first time at the festival with 46-year-old Kirill Petrenko, and his same-year-old Theodor Currentzis with the musicAeterna orchestra, who has swung to the “new testament" of academic symphony — all the symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven.
After the sensational debut last year, musicAeterna has earned a credit of confidence in Salzburg, but the success of an opera performance honed from performance to performance (even if it is Mozart's Mercy of Titus) is one thing, and a nine-episode concert marathon with no room for error. In the entire recent history of the festival, the most complex Beethoven cycle was performed in Salzburg only twice: in 1994 it was conducted by Nikolaus Arnoncourt, in 2009 — by Paavo Järvi.
Currentzis knocked out the conservative Austrian audience in the very first round — the desired effect was achieved in the final of the Ninth, when the initial performance of the theme of the ode "To Joy", played on the verge of audibility, made the 1,500-seat auditorium of the Rocky Manege literally hold its breath. The next day, they only talked about the radicalism of the Greek maestro and about the hurricane pace that musicAeterna adheres to even in the slow parts of symphonies — although there was nothing extreme in the Perm metronome.
Fulfilling the author's tempo guidelines, Currentzis went against late romantic interpretations, swearing allegiance to the quite venerable tradition of historically informed performance. In the end, it is precisely such ultra-high speeds that The London Classical Players and Roger Norrington, whose milestone interpretation will be twenty years old this summer, reached in Beethoven's symphonies.
Currentzis took into account the experience of his predecessors — from Bryggen to Hogwood, from Gardiner to Herreweghe — but at the same time emphasized the distance that separates his reading from previous generations of HIP'ars. Starting from strict adherence to the style of the era, he took Beethovenian to new frontiers, updating and enriching the performing canon with the practice of a free, sometimes very risky and always biased individual search.
Working with a small orchestral staff, Currentzis made it sound like a large symphonic organism, without losing in the transparency, chamber dressing of texture, which is rare even for authenticists, when each instrument is clearly audible. The groups argue with each other, step on their heels, as if the musicians have the earth burning under their feet: it seems, Europe never heard such a motley, colorful, overwhelmingly expressive, timbre and dynamically diverse, but at the same time courageous and strong-willed Beethoven, as in the Second, Third and Eighth by musicAeterna. Passed at the limit of human capabilities (five concerts in nine days), the Salzburg march sounded an impressive statement, a declaration of intent. Theodor Currentzis plans to realize it in the coming years on Sony Classical — the first album of the future cycle, with the Seventh and Fifth Symphonies, was recorded by the Permians in mid-July at the Vienna Konzerthaus.
Photo © Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli