- Romanian debut for orchestra after 12 months away from the stage due to Coronavirus pandemic
- Kristjan Järvi conducted two programmes – ‘Aurora’ and ‘Nordic Swans’ – featuring first-time collaborations with pianist Maria João Pires and violinist Viktoria Mullova
- Orchestra played ‘Nordic Swans’ programme of music by Arvo Pärt and Tchaikovsky completely from memory, in livestreamed performance
- Baltic Sea Philharmonic next takes ‘Nordic Swans’ on tour to Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Poland from 3 to 12 September
Berlin 1 September 2021. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic celebrated its long-awaited return to the stage with an acclaimed Romanian debut at the prestigious George Enescu International Festival in Bucharest. The orchestra’s two concerts with Kristjan Järvi at the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall on 30 and 31 August were the ensemble’s first live performances since September 2020, after an enforced break due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic was collaborating in Bucharest for the first time with renowned pianist Maria João Pires and leading violinist Viktoria Mullova. Pires was the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, which together with Kristjan Järvi’s Aurora and Enescu’s Symphony No. 2 comprised the 30 August programme, ‘Aurora’. The second programme, ‘Nordic Swans’, featured Mullova as soloist in Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and the Passacaglia for violin, vibraphone and strings, alongside Pärt’s Swansong and Kristjan Järvi’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake as a dramatic symphony. Around 1,000 concert-goers experienced the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s electrifying performances, and the ‘Nordic Swans’ concert was livestreamed on the Enescu Festival website.
A festival of firsts
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s debut at the Enescu Festival was much anticipated by the orchestra’s musicians, who were coming together for the first time in almost a year. A total of 81 players arrived excitedly in Bucharest six days before the first concert, ready for an intensive rehearsal period. Most of the musicians had already played many times in the orchestra, but some were joining the ensemble for the first time as new members. Together with the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, this year’s 25th edition of the Enescu Festival (28 August to 26 September 2021) features some 3,400 performers, including some of the greatest orchestras in the world
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed both its concerts in the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall, a landmark venue in the centre of Bucharest. Opened in 1888, the ornate domed building is the city’s main concert hall and is home to George Enescu Philharmonic and the George Enescu International Festival. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic paid tribute to the great Romanian composer himself in its concert on 30 August, with a performance of his Symphony No. 2 – the first time that the orchestra had performed a work by Enescu. Kristjan Järvi said of the symphony: ‘This piece has been a real discovery for me. Neither I nor anyone in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic had performed it before, so it was a complete adventure to play it.’
The orchestra played its ‘Nordic Swans’ programme on 31 August entirely from memory – an exciting approach to orchestral performance that has become the signature style of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. Mullova and the orchestra played Pärt’s Passacaglia and Fratres without a break, turning the pair of pieces into a mini violin concerto. At the concerts, the orchestra greeted standing ovations from the audience with two favourite encores: Sibelius’s noble ‘Song of Praise’ from the Swanwhite Suite, and Kristjan Järvi’s atmospheric Midnight Sun.
‘Nordic Swans’ goes on tour
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will now take ‘Nordic Swans’ on tour to Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Poland from 3 to 12 September. A new programme for the tour will enhance the swan theme, with Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela featuring alongside Pärt’s Swansong and Järvi’s dramatic-symphony arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. After two days of rehearsals in Bucharest, the orchestra will begin its ‘Nordic Swans’ tour on
3 September in Italy at the Merano Music Festival, with the next concert following a day later at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona. The tour will include the orchestra’s Slovenian debut at an outdoor concert in Ljubljana on 6 September; this performance will be livestreamed on the Ljubljanafestival.si website. After a special concert at the Usedom Music Festival on 11 September, ‘Nordic Swans’ will conclude in Szczecin, Poland, on 12 September, with the orchestra’s first performance in the strikingly designed Szczecin Philharmonic Hall.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic takes the orchestral concert experience to a new dimension. Every performance is a voyage of musical discovery, as the musicians perform the entire programme from memory, creating a one-of-a-kind artistic journey. Each concert is a unique spectacle of sound, light, visual art, technology, choreography and playing by heart, and under the electrifying baton of Music Director and Founding Conductor Kristjan Järvi every performance has a special energy that is absolutely infectious. But even more than this, as a community of musicians from ten Nordic countries, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic transcends boundaries and has become a movement for bringing people together. Embodying all that is innovative and progressive about the Nordic region, this visionary ensemble is taking the traditional orchestral model further than ever before. ‘It is a living breathing creature, with boundless energy and enthusiasm for the new – an adventure in itself,’ says Kristjan Järvi.