Yuri Serov, Professor St. Petersburg Conservatorium

Eliane Rodrigues, conductor & soloist Beethoven Pianoconcerto 5
Lidia Kovalenko, Algeminantas Peseckas, Eliane Rodrigues, Mikhail Zemtsov & Gavriel Lipkind in Dvoraks Quintet Op. 81

Again and again, great music is heard among the magnificent Alpine peaks. Again and again, the art that changes every instant of its existence, full of warmth and heartiness, neighbours the mountain landscapes that are frozen for millenniums, beautiful and somewhat coldly distant from every creation.

Eliane Rodrigues, the top star of Música Romântica, the “heart” and “soul” of the whole festival, appeared in six concerts this year, having demonstrated her amazing individuality comparable to nothing and nobody in piano concerts, and in chamber music programs, and at the conductor’s stand. Amazing is her virtuoso sweep, her complete inner freedom, her energy. Eliane’s gift is utterly special, and therefore the festival in Saas-Fee is absolutely unique and inimitable. One of her “feats” this summer is splendid performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto as the conductor and soloist at once – previously, it seemed impossible in principle. And impressive were the amplitude and power in the interpretation of the piano part in Dvorák’s Quintet, and astonishing sadness and very Russian melancholy in the slow parts of Rachmaninoff’s concertos.

The appearance of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra should be called the most successful debut of Música Romântica. This Vilnius ensemble gave real pleasure to music lovers. A splendidly organized orchestra, excellently harmonious, with a soft lush sound, it interpreted very different styles of music absolutely naturally and vividly, while remaining himself both in the pliability of French music, and in the endless cantilena of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, and in the clear-cut articulation of the Viennese classics. The Lithuanian musicians both rehearsed and performed in concerts with such visible pleasure that you cold not resist surrendering to their attitude, and following them. Multiply all that by the highest level of the orchestra soloists’ individual musicianship, by discipline and responsibility, and you will understand why every concert of the guests from Lithuania ended in continuing hot applause of the audience. We should extend special thanks to the festival producers, who for several years have been bringing to Saas-Fee symphony orchestras of the highest European class.

Juozas Domarkas, who founded the Vilnius orchestra and has been leading it for over 47 years, is one of the most brilliant representatives of the vintage Soviet school of conducting. His solid interpretations of Russian music were quite to my liking. Rachmaninoff’s Concerto for Piano with Orchestra Nr. 2 in concord with Eliane Rodrigues became a real hymn to romantic beauty. The unpredictability and astounding improvising manner of Eliane were supported in it by the orchestra’s lavish sound foundation. Spanish Capriccio of Rimsky-Korsakov crowned the Russian night with the virtuoso luster of the orchestra comparable to sparkling splashes of champagne, in full accordance with the composer’s idea of this bewitching piece.

Above, I have mentioned the most momentous debut of the festival, the premiere appearance of the orchestra from Lithuania. But I should by no means omit recollecting another sensation, albeit slightly more modest in terms of contribution to the festival, but no less important for the debutante herself. I mean the performances of Nina Smeets-Rodrigues, a young pianist from Antwerp. In possession of excellent pianistic techniques, easy and unself-conscious in her interpretations of Rachmaninoff, Mahler, and Dvorak, she excellently passed her challenging artistic examination, adding freshness and new colors to the chamber part of Música Romântica.

Traditionally, the final night of the festival was given to Hollywood. Eliane Rodrigues conducted fragments of music from well-known films. The overcrowded hall of Pfarrkirche Saas-Fee appreciated this refined musical gift. The listeners were unwilling to leave the hall for a long time, calling the musicians out for bows again and again. It was felt that many of them were a bit sad, for two fabulous weeks of plunging into music were over. Well… see you again, Música Romântica?
Yuri Serov   -   Professor St. Petersburg Conservatorium   -  3 September 2011