three days at the summit

Saint Sebastian

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The gradual recovery of summer festivals in our country, after the strong impact of the pandemic, it is becoming more and more firm. With reduced seats, the public is returning to the auditoriums and the improvement in the mobility restrictions allows that the circuits begin to reestablish with the tours of the soloists and, finally, of the great orchestral formations. It is a substantial advance that has been noticed in these two months and that allows us to face the imminent start of next season with prudent optimism.

The San Sebastián Musical Fortnight It is one of the oldest Spanish festivals, and one of those that has always known how to keep the threshold of artistic ambition high, without ups and downs. It has just closed now its 82nd edition with three fabulous concerts that the attendees welcomed with fervor. The public that supports the San Sebastian festival may be one of the most generous and knowledgeable in the country. It is a merit that must be attributed to the quality of the offer that the cycle has achieved, fostering loyalty and popular support that is impressive.

He returned to the Fortnight National Orchestra of Spain, with its owner, David Afkham at the front, and he did it with a luxury soloist, the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, always of impeccably obsessive tuning, which dazzled in its interpretation of one of the great works of the repertoire, the ‘Concerto for violin and orchestra in D major’ by Tchaikovsky, articulated on slow, contained ‘tempi’ that were gaining energy progressively. The Bach of his encore was a real gift.

This was followed by Afkham and the orchestra with astonishing sonic vigor on Schumann’s ‘Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major’. Maestro and orchestra showed good harmony here and how well a conductor who does not fit into the repertoire is doing to the formation, who is looking for a new reading of it, without shortcuts. Guridi’s ‘Amorosa’ closed the night with delicate romantic accents.

The next day another of the violin stars, Anne Sophie mother, landed at the Kursaal accompanied on piano by Lambert Orkis. The great diva of the instrument made clear her perfect mastery of it and stylistic versatility that goes through different repertoires with the ductility and experience only available to a very restricted elite. With her inseparable and magnificent pianist Lambert Orkis, the violinist drew up a program in three stages. Three seasons in which Mozart, Beethoven and Frank proved their primacy in this world. From the serene ‘Sonata for violin and piano in E minor’ by Mozart, passing through a meaty and vital version of the ‘Sonata Primavera’ by Beethoven, until reaching the overflowing energy with which they interpreted the ‘Sonata for violin and piano in the eldest ‘by César Frank. All a show that was prolonged with two delicious tips, ‘Cinderella’, from John Williams, and a vibrant adaptation of Brahms’ ‘Hungarian Dance No. 1’.

It is difficult to imagine a better closing concert, more festive and exciting, than the one offered by the always dynamic vital Ivan Fischer, in front of that wonderful instrument that is the Budapes Festival Orchestrat. A coherent program, a whole declaration of intentions, and an orchestral exhibition. ‘The Ox on the Roof’, by Darius Milhaud, the overwhelming ‘Concerto in G major’ by Maurice Ravel -with a Dejan Lazic at the piano in a state of grace and in total harmony with maestro and orchestra – they were complemented by two delicatessen by Erik Satie: the ‘Gymnopédie number 1’, in Debussy’s orchestration, and the ‘Gnossienne number 3’, orchestrated by Poulenc. To top it off, the festive ‘Danzas de Galanta’ by Zoltan Kodaly were a ray of light for these times, a shock for the musicians and for the enthusiastic and warm San Sebastian public, who turned to the Fortnight in a difficult year that the organization resolved with effort and brilliant results. In the encore, Fischer transformed the orchestra into a choir with Dvorak and the ‘Oración de la noche’ as the plot.

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