Liszt, Chopin, Mussorgsky… die Gewandhaus zu Leipzig

Two by Liszt, an encore by Chopin, then the full orchestra doing Mussorgsky… and no photography allowed.


Bertrand Chamayou was an absolute delight, bringing more than the required energy to both the Liszt pieces, but the second one especially — the “Fantasia on Hungarian folk melodies for piano and orchestra”, the melody being well-known by aficionados of Bugs Bunny films — tends to leave some serious scorch marks on the keyboard. The “Totentanz” theme is equally familiar in its wrathfulness, the “Dies Irae” being an ever more “oldie, but goodie”. His choice of a Chopin barcarolle was a perfect way of cooling down after the heat of the Liszt.

But oldies… I’ve heard the Mussorgsky dozens of times, but tonight was simply “Wow.” The orchestral arrangements (there’s Ravel’s which we got to hear and at least one other) call for a larger band, the tonal colors that Mussorgsky suggested in the original piece for piano requiring the likes of a soprano saxophone and two harps, just to name a few of the additions.

And the Gewandhaus Orchestra delivered. In proverbial spades. The space itself was certainly a factor — I can’t wait to hear more music there; I’d love to hear something with the delicacy of Vaughan Williams that would utilize the ability of the hall to reflect the tiniest tinkle of a triangle to glorious bombast of the brass section.

Verweile doch, Leipzig — du bißt so schön!

Author: alfonsoelsabio

Citoyen du monde: Photographer, librarian/archivist/academic, musician, and writer... I've lived in, or visited, every state in the US except South Dakota and Hawaii.