Thursday, December 8, 2011:Revelations
Judging from the audience reaction, the Berg Orchestra continues to amaze and delight. And the concert conducted by Peter Vrábel Mon, Dec 5 is no exception.
The concert presented revelations from two contemporary Latvians and a Lithuanian – Peteris Vasks, Georgs Pelecis, and Juste Janulyte, respectively – to the City of a Hundred Spires, proving that the Baltic composers continue to provide “new” music that pricks up listeners’ ears.
However, native Czechs also provided some of the highlights of this concert at St Salvator church.
Ondřej Štochl unveiled his Blue – Innocent and Fragile in a world-premiere performance. For this piece, the orchestra spreads out, with one cello and two violins in the church apse to the left; a double bass and two violins in the apse on the right, and Mr Vrábel conducting from the center aisle, 30 feet back.And center stage? That is where the real show begins. In addition to a vibraphone, double bass, and two cellos in the background, the downstage spotlight is reserved for a single violin. It’s played by 12-year-old Tereza Horáková.
Dressed in a knee-length, gathered-skirt black dress dappled with white stars, Tereza seems to be the midpoint connecting the musicians, the earth with the universe. Clearly a gifted young student with a great future, at the same time she has the kind of commanding face you’ve seen in an aristocratic 18th century painting – hair pulled back off a high forehead, penetrating eyes, thin lips in a full lower face holding the violin. All this picture is missing is the lacy cap to frame her ageless face.
A student of the composer, she began began playing the violin at age 6, and as Mr Štochl writes in the program notes, it wasn’t possible to instruct her with typical compositions for children, which would be contrary to the seriousness and sincerity this young musician is already able to so deeply feel.
Mr Štochl represented the Czech Republic at the 2007 International Society of Contemporary Music World Music Days festival in Hong Kong, and his works are interpreted by a number of musicians and chamber groups at home and abroad. A graduate in viola and composition from the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU), he is the artistic leader, dramaturgist, and viola player for the Convergence Ensemble.
Monday evening’s performance was capped by countertenor Jan Mikušek singing the soprano-pitch piece, Revelation, accompanied by the orchestra with Martin Levický on piano and Jan Vitinger on trumpet.
Mr Mikušek is well-qualified for the demanding task, having studied the cimbalom and conducting at the Brno Conservatory and HAMU, and appearing as a frequent guest singer at the National Theatre Opera.
His performance elicited not only vigorous applause from the audience, but also their shouts and cries of approval and delight. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Top, Middle: Mary Matz; Bottom, Eva Kesslová