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<<  -- 2 --  David Wilkins    A WEEK TO REMEMBER


The opening Gala Concert on Saturday 8 June 2002 served as a tribute to Turkish performers of a younger as well as more-established generation. Rengim Gokmen and the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra got proceedings underway with authentic jubilation in the Shostakovitch Festival Overture. With additional brass blazing away in the antiphonal galleries, a veritable assault of percussion and the acoustics of the building's high dome stealing some of the more delicate sounds, the orchestra's string section didn't stand a lot of chance. But -- hey, what the hell -- this was the sort of unbridled enthusiasm with which to launch a great festival!

30th Anniversary Concert by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Baris Ustel

A performance of Chausson's Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings released some musical heady-perfumes into the evening air but, especially after the invigoration of the Shostakovitch, seemed a slightly deflating choice of work for the occasion. Two flautists treated us to the kind of 'light the blue touch-paper and retire' pyrotechnics that come in Carnival in Venice and Carmen pot-pourri form. They were young; a little awed by the occasion, but with as much talent as semiquaver runs at their disposal. A tasteless two-piano and strings take on movements from Vivaldi's Four Seasons held little musical merit but, I fear, might be destined for many an outing on crossover radio stations.

30th Anniversary Concert by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Aylin Ozmete

The genuinely stirring musicianship returned with the genuine music. Gulsin Onay and Huseyin Sermet sparkled their way in total sympathy through a movement from Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos KV365 and, as the undisputed 'star' of the evening, young cellist Efe Baltacigil joined with colleagues in the opening Allegro of the Beethoven Triple Concerto. He looked and played as if there was nowhere in the world he would rather be and nothing else he would rather be doing. Triumphantly, he made the audience feel exactly the same.

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Copyright © 30 June 2002 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK




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