Teodor Currentzis concert at Zaryadye Concert Hall

Teodor Currentzis concert at Zaryadye Concert Hall

Teodor Currentzis performed a concert at Zaryadye Concert Hall in Moscow on May 31. On the occasion of the closing of the International Diaghilev Festival, Mahler Chamber Orchestra soloists and MusicAeterna Choir performed Johannes Brahms' works and Morton Feldman's modernist play 'Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety.'

The musicians of Musicians Mahler Chamber Orchestra and MusicAeterna Choir told Zond News about their impressions of the festival, as well as about what it's like to work with a renowned conductor.

Evaluating the organization of the festival, the chief choirmaster of MusicAeterna, Vitaly Polonsky, noted that today the festival is one of the flagships of the Russian and global festival movement. "This is a concentration of creative forces, where completely different musicians meet: from hard rock or industrial music performers to academic and classical musicians," he said, adding that such a genre symbiosis evokes a constant interest of the public.

Speaking about the creative method of Currentzis, he pointed out the conductor’s ability, when returning to the original musical material, to discover a new relevance of it. "Thanks to Teodor’s author’s view, the music composed a long time ago sounds very modern. And it's not because we come up with certain specific moves and look for modernist performing techniques. We just try to find its original meanings," Polonsky said.

In turn, the first violin of Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Anna Matz, noted the unique style of interaction between the conductor and the choir. "He pays a lot of attention to soft sound and dynamic extremes," she said, explaining that this range allows them to perform in any room.

A German requiem was performed at the concert - the longest piece by Brahms. It is composed for chorus, soloists and orchestra and consists of seven movements. The composer composed the text of the requiem himself. A German Requiem is one of Brahms' masterpieces.

Speaking about his approach to A German Requiem, Matz noted that the composition was built on the intense interaction of music and poetry. "The nature of music is born in conjunction with the text. Of course, A German Requiem, like any requiem, is about death, but also about peace. This is a beautiful, very calm and even serene composition, not similar to 'operatic' Messa da Requiem by Verdi," she said, recalling that Currentzis performed Messa da Requiem by Verdi in 2007, but changing the usual interpretation and composition of the instruments.

Vitaly Polonsky, in turn, stressed that any artist performing classical works such as A German Requiem by Brahms represents his own interpretation. "I think it makes no sense to talk about specific interpretations, because it is very difficult to verbalize music. Let musicologists do it," the choirmaster added.

Singer Dimitris Tiliakos drew attention to the fact that the text of A German Requiem is unconventional for the Catholic Church. "These are excerpts from the Psalms, which speak of people's pain of losing another person. About people who, while mourning death, must retain the warmth of love within themselves. This is the main theme of A German requiem. Its message is positive and open towards people. In the very first aria, the baritone sings: "Lord, make me to know mine end, And the measure of my days, what it is, That I may know how frail I am. So teach me how to live, how to love, how to find the meaning of life."

Also Tiliakos noted that for him, as a performer, it is extremely important to work on compositions of such depth. "A singer must learn to go deeper, not stopping at the level of emotional expression. And such masterpieces help me with this a lot," the baritone concluded.

Teodor Currentzis is artistic director of the Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre, artistic director of the International Diaghilev Festival, founder and artistic director of musicAeterna Orchestra and MusicAeterna Chamber Choir.