It seemed a sweet twist of fate that the oldest chamber orchestra in the world chose to play the works of Johann Sebastian Bach on a day when Google honoured the German musician with the first-ever AI powered doodle.
Bach’s works have traversed centuries as much as they have travelled solar systems — the Voyager spacecraft carries a recording of his Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 — emphasising his stature in the galaxy of classical music.
The Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra on its fifth India tour, since its founding at the end of the Second World War, has worked its concerts to unite exceptional music from the land of its origin and the country of performance. With 10 live outings spread across six cities, some with educational institutions, the largely young 17-member orchestra, featuring violins, violas, cellos and a double bass, has musicians from Europe and Asia.
For the concert at The Music Academy, the orchestra demonstrated perfect music that can be achieved without a conductor gesticulating from the podium admirably — all it needs is democratic playing; and that their technical brilliance encompassed both Indian and Western notes.
The mic-less concert, with Bogdan Bozovic as the artistic director, opened with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The violins, violas and cellos launched into it on a cheerful, uplifting note, the slower second movement moving subtly from a dense tone to wispy layers before finishing off with a dance-like segment.
The second piece was also by Bach. Violins parleyed, sang and volleyed in Concerto for two violins in D minor. It was played with airy wistfulness, with a swelling tone that was reined in quickly to drop to sibilant whispers.
This was followed by the premiere of Sandeep Bhagwati’s Vistar. Indian in construct and cosmic in sound, the composition had passages that were melancholic and sometimes mysterious. It is to the credit of the orchestra that pulled it off with their technical brilliance.
The last was Johannes Brahms Symphony for strings No. 2. The four movements that were played were packaged as graceful dances, at some parts melodically phrased while the rhythmic pizzicato (plucking of the strings) captured the boisterous spirit of the score. It capped the evening’s performance.
From the time the musicians emerged in their black suits and dresses framed against a stark white background, their period instruments gleaming under the yellow-lights, they became springboards not only of their talent, but also of the time.
As a tribute to a country they love enough to keep visiting often, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra played the score of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ for the encore. Some musicians showcase the genius of composers, others the expanse of their talent. When they played this Bollywood favourite, the orchestra outdid themselves on both counts.
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/stuttgart-chamber-orchestra-performs-in-chennai/article26632138.ece