Ravel – Stravinsky Festival; Concert Charles Münch.

In Libertatea, Bucharest, March 20, 1938

Another Lipatti / Music Critic / Concert Reviews

The concert conducted by Mr Inghelbrecht marked an important date both for us, the public, and for the performers themselves: the National Orchestra celebrated their 500thconcert with a Ravel – Stravinsky festival.

If in the Rhapsodie espagnole Mr Inghelbrecht’s gestures seemed slightly awkward, the conductor was remarkable inDaphnis et Chloé (particularly in the second movement). In Introduction et Allegro for harp and orchestra Mrs Michelline Kahn played the solo part with considerable competence, proving to be the owner of a good technique and of an excellent intellect adroit in building and structuring the music.

Here is Igor Stravinsky himself, stepping on the stage to present his most recent work, Jeu de cartes! I cannot really go into detail on this work, as it was the first time I heard it; I confess, though, it left me somewhat confused. True, we find here, as always, the great composer’s verve, spirit, irony, and humour, but there is something which doesn’t allow me to exclaim:  "il a trouvé le mot!”. I attribute this state of mind only to my own current condition: I will naturally understand Jeu de cartes better after I have read the score and I have heard the music again.

The concert ended with Stravinsky’s Symphonie des psaumes, a work of rigid structure and very impressive. I have to re-listen to this piece as well in order to fully understand it.

Both the National Orchestra and the choir were up to the standards of the works performed, thus allowing us to enjoy their beauty even more.

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In the old Conservatory hall, where the weekly concerts conducted by Philippe Gaubert take place, I admired, again, the exceptional Charles Münch, invited, this time, to conduct the Société des concerts.

After the Schumann’s overture Genoveva, performed with much warmth, there came Beethoven’s splendid, so difficult to perform and unfortunately so often given, Piano concerto in E flat major. I do not think there are many pianists worthy of approaching such a work, and tonight’s soloist, the Hungarian Kilenyi, did not live up to the acclaim (or should I say to the advert) he enjoys from a time. He is a pianist of good technical qualities but a mediocre musician. I admired the nearly heroic courage of the conductor, who, faced with such a soloist, dared go through with the concert. A nocturne and four etudes by Chopin strengthened my conviction that Kilenyi is far from being one of the great pianists of his generation.

Brahms’s beautiful E minor symphony, which completed the concert, led our souls back to the higher spheres of spiritual enchantment. Passionate in the first movement, a-dreaming in the Adagio, bright in the Scherzo and a-rumbling in the concluding passacaglia, Charles Münch fused all instrumentalists in one single performer.

I had of late heard him conduct Bach’s Brandenburg concerto no. 3 in G major in such a way as it was rarely given to me to hear.  You think he was maybe leading the Berlin Philharmonic? Indeed, no: it was a concert held by the students of the Ecole normale de musique in Paris!

Displaying the sobriety characteristic of an artist sure of his communication skills, Münch can achieve a maximum of expression with a minimum of gestures.

I congratulate the directors of the Ecole normale de musique in Paris for their happy initiative and for thinking of offering Charles Münch the place he rightfully deserves – next to Nadia Boulanger and Alfred Cortot.