THESSALONIKI, 9 June 2003
Musical presentations with meaning and style.
Two interesting concerts by Thessaloniki State Orchestra.
Review: ANTONIS I. KONSTANTINIDIS
Two concerts of special interest stood out amongst the others presented as part of the program of the State Orchestra during May. One was the "Humor Gala" on Friday, 16 May, the other, the performance of the Requiem of Berlioz, the last concert of the same month.
These two concerts, despite their intense and antithetical nature, which distinguished them from a musical point of view, certainly support the view that they easily emanated the same general impression left by the entire current artistic season. Quality performances by the State Orchestra is no longer a merely a wish, but rather a fact, the result of persistent work, well-planned direction, and excellently thought-out programming, supported by the stimulating dynamism of the orchestra as a whole. A development which most definitely should not be interrupted.
The "Humor Gala"
Conductor Lisa Xanthopoulou is a prime example of an artist who, with a solid and sound educational foundation (State Conservatory, Department of Musical Studies, Berlin University of Arts), seeks persistently and successfully to prove herself in a predominately the male-dominated endeavor which is orchestral conducting. At the same time, she is one of many young Greek artists who follow the lonely but dignified path of a European career, far from the traditional local intrigues typical of our country, be they fair or unfair, but always relatively damaging psychologically, as well as humiliating. We had occasion to meet at the "Humor Gala", at which she had been invited to conduct, impressing everyone with her special, distinctive, personal, and expressive style of conducting.
By definition, a celebration of a whimsical nature, playful and perhaps purposely insincere, the "Humor Gala" predisposed the audience for an experience quite different from the more or less solemn or trivial sounds of a conventional concert. Apart from the excellent performers, the responsive orchestra, the convincing conductor, the choice of the repertoire was balanced, of quality and variety, with a careful blending of orchestral and vocal works, arias and overtures, by no means light or easily digestible.
The coloratura soprano Gina Poulou (whom we heard recently in the children's opera Momo under Alkis Baltas) contributed greatly to the success of the evening. She reached the heights of the vocal stratosphere with ease and, marshalling her acting skills, won over the audience with a generous display of her talent. The "Aria of the Dolls" from Tales of Hoffmann was certainly one of the most pleasant and certainly unforgettable highlights of the evening. Her baritone co-star, Australian David Wakeham, held his own, successfully performing the classical parts of the repertoire; though appearing to be a little overly pedantic, he did manage to reward the audience with a fine performance, underscored by his rich vocal palette.
....Just before the end of this year's artistic season and in light of the positive reckoning of our State Orchestra, we can now regard this year's accomplishments as a quality guarantee for next season.