Zubin Mehta and Janine Jansen in Florence. Mehtas farewell!
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Conducted by ZUBIN MEHTA with violinist, JANINE JANSEN in Pëtr Il’ič Čajkovskij, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35. surrounded by Modest Musorgskij´s Khovanshchina, Prelude 1st Act (orchestraded by Nikolaj Rimskij-Korsakov) and after the break Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.1, “Titan” in Florence, Italy, Teatro Comunale, 2013 march 13rd.
Review by Faio Bardelli
FLORENCE: “Don’t let us die!”. With these words the famous Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, tied to the Florentine theatre for more than 50 years, said good bye to the audience at the end of his concert on April 13th. The situation of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is extremely difficult, and this concert was a good occasion for a cry for help, waiting for next Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival (if the Foundation will not close, as threatened by Commissor Francesco Bianchi) that should open on May 2nd with Verdi’s Don Carlo only in concert form, because of the well known economic difficulties. The financial and managerial situation is dramatic, the Theatre is near to bankruptcy, but the town and its politicians do almost nothing to save from failure the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the most important cultural event in Florence since 1933.
This happens when the town seems almost completely uninterested, apart those few more concerned people devoted to culture, who understand that together with the theatre also all the professionality will fail, as well as the memories, and the work of many people like artists, as employees, as workers.
I hope that the alarm from Italian and Florence cultural world will arrive also abroad, and that everything possible will be done for saving Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, an heritage belonging not only to Florence, but to the whole world. Unfortunately, in general terms, culture is undervaluated in Italy, often considered just a waste of public money that could be used in a better way, for example building many new football stadiums…
Everyone can see how poor are the actions and the efforts of the local and national authorities for trying to save the theatre, mixed to great arrogance and incompetence. Are we really sure that they want to save the Theatre? We’ll see.
In this very beautiful concert, Zubin Mehta has chosen music of composers very congenial to him, as we heard in previous concerts during the years: an evocative and popular programme with a first part completely Russian while the second is dedicated to one of the most popular Mahler’s Symphonies, the 1st, named The Titan by the author himself for the ultimate version, after many uncertainties and reelaborations during the years. Gustav Mahler himself in the final version deleted the beautiful moviment Blumine, that sometimes we can hear in concerts performed on his own, while Mehta let us listen to it in this occasion at its place as the real second moviment of this Symphony.
Mahler’s programmatic purpose, with traces of naturalism and very accurate descriptions, is demonstrated by the titles that he put at every movement for concert performances before the definitive score; in this very final version there are taken away, but they stay as precious hint to those who want examinate the origin of this first Mahler’s symphonic work. Actually, it was born as programmatic music, but then the composer refused this characteristic.
No need to say how Mehta finds in this score a very fertile field for his conductor possibilities: he exalts the instrumental and expressive power, the research of the colours and the mobility of the paces, the instrumental transparencies and the accuracy of the strumentini. The orchestra follows him not only with enthusiasm but also with emotion and commotion, and I would nominate each player’s name for their wonderful playing.
In the first part of the concert we had a fascinating and evocative rendition of The dawn on Moscova River, Prelude 1st Act from Modest Musorgskij’s Khovanshchina , then the young Dutch violinist Janine Jansen played in a very lyrical and intimate way Čajkovskij’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35.
The young soloist shows a small sound but piercing and perfectly in tune, and an innate elegance and refinement. Her melodic line is always very careful, but missing in character and sound volume, also very important in a page such as Čajkovskij’s concert. Anyhow a very personal rendition, soft and refined, that doesn’t leave indifferent, a bright and very musical execution, leading to the enthusiasm of the audience, rewarded by an encore.
Actually, the success was a real triumph for conductor and orchestra and the theatre was sold-out: all in all, a very beutiful music night, and we deeply hope that it’s not going to be one of the last ones but we hope that it can move political authorities to save Florence’s Theatre.
translation from italian Bruno Tredicine