George Enescu Festival begins the day the Moon reaches the perigee, coming closest to the Earth, and we, gathered under the round dome of the Romanian Athenaeum, step onto the orbit of music in a romantic spirit, dazzled by the evenings of the end of summer and the scent of ripe grapes, revolving fascinated around the same axis in the centre of Bucharest: Athenaeum – Palace Hall.
Text by Sandra Drăgan, student in the 11th grade of the Goethe German High School. Sandra studied violin for ten years.
Then the Moon will slowly move further away from the Earth, to the sound of music, reaching the apogee on September 14.
At the base of the dome covering the large hall of the Romanian Athenaeum we behold a series of medallions dedicated to arts and science, and we will choose to halt on the one dedicated to “Astronomy”, located in the right side of the stage, lit by the 15 lamps coming down like magical, surrealist eyes, from the dome in the centre of which there is a decorative button reminiscent of the Neo-Romanian architectural style of Ion Mincu.
Thus, hanging from the bow of violins or hopping cheerfully on piano keys, we are invited by the month of September to a charmed, universal time, which we enter by climbing the steps of musical scales and breathing in words, rhythmically, slowly, deeply, as we go up the snail-like winding stairs to the Large Hall of the Athenaeum. Like a huge shell, like an oyster concealing the waves of the sea, the staircase of the Athenaeum throbs playfully under the quick steps of music lovers, youths, students, instrumentalists, women, men, children, rushing all together to miraculously catch the butterfly sounds, ready to fly to their hearts and rest there for a while.
The spirit of Enescu seems to take the lead in the concert that begins the week at the Athenaeum, because all the compositions for strings, all sorts of them, violins, violas and cellos become, in turn, protagonists of the stage. Thus, on August 31, the week begins, paradoxically, with the end of the meteorological summer, gliding from the sounds of summer, transparent and slightly whistled, like flageolets, to the smooth sounds of the beginning of September, with faded, mysterious sonorities, perfect for the Moon’s coming closer to the Earth.
At 17.00, on August 31, at the Athenaeum we will witness a miraculous web of sounds being woven, with bows becoming narrower and narrower, from the violin (0.75 cm), to the viola (0.74 cm) and the cello (0.72 cm), rubbed with the rosin preserving the smell of resin, and cradled in the air by the arms of virtuosos, in pursuit of the colour of sounds. Because sounds do have colours of their own, which can be grasped according to the gliding of the fingers along the strings.
The programme will begin with the Concerto for 3 violins and string orchestras in F Major, F.1 no. 34, followed by Bridge – “Lament” for two violas, Shostakovich – “Duo for two violins”, to embrace in their midst the “Andante from the violin, viola and strings concerto in E Minor, op. 88” by Bruch, with the E string offering a luminous, glassy, piercing sound of clear finesse.
The crystalline timbre of Vivaldi’s violins makes way to the melancholy of Bridge’s violas, whose “Lament” drips into your soul the nostalgia of longing for the summer that has barely ended, under the soft flapping of the wings of pigeons, brushing against the columns at the entrance into the Athenaeum. The friendly pigeons seem to remind us of the charm of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, which has given the best quality wood and materials to Andrea Amati (1535-1612), founder of the Cremona lute-maker school, used to make his instruments.
Violas make the harmonious connection between violins and cellos, they bring a special light, of passing, of the last day of summer, a day with terracotta tones that we see hidden on the dome, under the allegoric decorations winding towards the centre, or with maple-tree tones, similar to the Turkish wooden oars bought by Amati from the Venetians who purchased a great amount of wood from the very people they fought in wars on the sea.
Then we will be carried away on the G string by two cellos in Barriere’s “Sonata”, the string with the greatest power, bringing ample sounds, warm and full, which does not exclude smoothness, if tackled with warmth. The highest sounds of the cello are more consistent, less fluid than their correspondents of the violin, exuding sobriety and a deep character, like the golden, grave autumn, rich with harvest, albeit melancholic.
The sonata for two cellos seems to herald thus the coming of the autumn, as September is ready to go in the limelight, with ripe grapes, with raindrops, with the night trickling down sweetly like nougat, yet biting hungrily into the length of day.
All sorts of attacks and the technical resources specific to violins are amplified in cellos, the instrument itself being the result of the transformation by the Italian lute-markers, who modified and combined string instruments to create the “viola bass” and the “viola da gamba”, considered direct ancestors of the cello.
Finally, the two cellos, polite and grave, will make way to violins to finish the concert with the suppleness and harmony they rest on the graceful shoulders of female violinists, or the firmer ones, of male instrumentalists, while the magic baton of the conductor Liviu Prunaru will dance in the air, with grace and strength, softly or determinedly, barely containing its desire to pinch the moon that is so close to us.
A romantic Monday, of the end of August dipped in the honey light of the moon, which will bask in the sky at the end of the programme at the Athenaeum, to lead us to the Large Palace Hall, where we will hear, at 20.00, Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E Major op. 9, under the baton of the conductor Zubin Mehta, followed by Symphony No. 8 in C Minor.