“Established four years ago in Rosendal – the only Barony in Norway, two hours from Bergen, where until that time Leif Ove Andsnes had come for more than two decades to give his most cherished and spiritually important concert of his season – this festival was conceived as an exquisite intellectual musical weekend in one of the most exotic corners of the country. The famous Norwegian pianist decided to invite friends-musicians from around the world to this paradise with a 17th-century castle surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, a landscape garden and a rose garden for performances and discussion together on a given topic.
“Over the years, such stars as the phenomenal viola player Tabea Zimmermann, clarinetist Martin Fröst, bass-baritone Matthias Goerne, mezzo-soprano Anna Sophie von Otter, soprano Anna Prokhazka, pianist Bertrand Chamayou and many others have made the journey to perform there. Musicians of the highest echelon have intensively prepared programmes, sailing to Rosendal a couple of days before the start of the festival and setting the highest standard from the very beginning. In the first year, focus was given to the work of Schubert, in the second – Mozart, in the third – the range of plots expanded sharply in connection with the dedication of the festival to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“This time Leif Ove Andsnes directed the festival focus to researching the work of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose music he has had a burning interest in since a young age, forcing him to puzzle over countless aesthetic paradoxes, a mixture of high and low, temperamental dialogue with the classic-romantic tradition. Over the years, interest has also increased in the historical and political component of the legacy of the author of the Leningrad Symphony.
“During the four days of the festival in intimate Rosendal, as many chamber compositions by Dmitri Shostakovich were played as they are never played in a season in any of the Russian philharmonic halls, for which Leif Ove should be presented with the highest state award. The festival featured Shostakovich quartets performed by the French ensemble Quatuor Danel and little-known works of the early period, trios, sonatas for various instruments, including the famous viola sonata, which became one of the high points of the festival performed by Leif Ove Andsnes and Tabea Zimmermann, and even Symphony No. 15 arranged by Viktor Derevyanko for trio and 13 percussion instruments. For the vocal cycles, the young baritone Andrey Bondarenko shone, and in addition to songs on Pushkin’s poems, also gave the performance of Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”.
“Among the stars of the festival were Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, the first clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, Anthony McGill, pianist Marianne Shirinyan, cellist Clemens Hagen, and the string ensemble Allegria.
The concert hall for five hundred seats, converted from an old barn several years ago and installed with a speaker system by Meyer Sound, received full houses for four days in a row with an ideal audience of listeners who perceived music completely unfamiliar to them with intense attention, without almost breathing. All this testified to a colossal ardent interest in Russian music.
“One of the late evenings, the film “New Babylon” was shown as a visual illustration to the art of Shostakovich’s cinematic improvisations, where the young virtuoso pianist Sasha Grinyuk acted as interpreter.
“In addition to the music of Shostakovich, the festival also presented a wide context in which his genius developed, and the music of his direct students and followers, among which were Samuel Feinberg, Galina Ustvolskaya, Alfred Schnittke, Kara Karayev, Edison Denisov.
“For the first time, the resident composer of this festival was Muscovite Alexander Vustin, invited to Rosendal for a retrospective of whose work made a splash, leaving the international festival community of musicians and listeners with even more questions about the mysterious, very courageous and patient Russian soul.”
Source: Russian Gazette