Star pianist Rüya Taner and star conductor Matthias Manasi offer a celebrated concert in Teatro Poupex in Brasília
Star pianist Rüya Taner and star conductor Matthias Manasi offer a celebrated concert in Teatro Poupex in Brasília

Conductor Matthias Manasi, pianist Rüya Taner and Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro on May 16 at Teatro Poupex. (Emanuel Costa)

Pianist Rüya Taner and Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro at Teatro Poupex. (Emanuel Costa)

Conductor Matthias Manasi and Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro at Teatro Poupex. (Emanuel Costa)

Rüya Taner and Matthias Manas join Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro for a program of Balci, Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

BRASíLIA, BRAZIL, May 29, 2024 / — By Beatriz Pereira

Rüya Taner and Matthias Manasi perform a program with Balci, Mozart and Tchaikovsky together with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro.

On 16 May, Turkish star pianist Rüya Taner and German star conductor Matthias Manasi delighted the sold-out Teatro Poupex in Brasília with a fascinating program. The German conductor Matthias Manasi, music director of the Nickel City Opera in Buffalo, NY, returned to the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro after making his Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro debut in 2017 with a sensational and unforgettable interpretation of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1. Turkish pianist Rüya Taner was the celebrated soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, KV 467 which she played with enchanting lightness and noble touch.

The symphony concert was entitled ‘Concerto Turco’ because the concert was held in partnership with the Turkish Embassy in Brasilia. At the beginning, the Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Akça, gave a greeting to the audience in the sold-out Teatro Poupex.

At the beginning of the concert, the ‘Balkan Overture’ by the Turkish contemporary composer Oguzhan Balci was played. The music of this overture flows from the beginning in an uninterrupted flow, initially without any change in meter or tempo, consistently filled with a lyrical, serious, sometimes solemn and also yearning ‘Balkanesque’ character that sometimes seems to sound from afar. The music is interrupted several times by short caesuras, which are then followed by solo interludes by the wind instruments, which lead back to a solemn yet very lively tutti, which is built up from varied motor elements, then again from energetic, rhythmic passages.

A special feature is the middle section, which consists of a lively, very virtuoso 7/8 rhythm, which then flows energetically, sometimes hymn-like, into a fiery, effective final section. Conductor Matthias Manasi and the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro won the hearts of the audience right at the beginning of the concert with their interpretation of this ‘Balkan Overture’ by Oguzhan Balci. The orchestra played at a wonderfully lively tempo, always precise and with fullness. Manasi has a brilliant conducting technique, expressive clarity and a phenomenal musical instinct.

He conducted precisely, he often stands upright, his range of gestures range from economical and jagged, only indicated with individual fingers, to expansive and with arched figures, as if he were forming a sculpture. His frequent turns to the individual instrument groups or soloists with very precise playing instructions are striking – no emotion is too much. In the lively, motoric passages he called on the musicians to play passionately. The work, which sounds a little like a short symphony movement, actually has a lively, dance-like, at times thoughtful and melancholic mood, which is, however, interspersed with powerful tutti passages that give the whole piece an impressive effect and a special weight. The audience in the sold-out hall was already in a standing ovation mood after the overture.

The Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467 is one of Mozart’s most famous and most frequently performed concertos. However, it is easy to forget this when listening to the performance on 16 May at the Teatro Poupex with Turkish pianist Rüya Taner, who brought a captivating spontaneity to the piece and making it as if you were listening to the piece for the first time. Taner is a pianist with unrivaled technique, exceptional piano feel and unique sensitivity, and also a musician who conveys her joy not only in playing but also in performing.

In 1785, Mozart composed this piano concerto during an extraordinarily productive and successful period. As well as being a prolific composer, he was also a virtuoso pianist, and he wrote this concerto for himself to showcase his own pianistic artistry in a series of subscription concerts in Vienna. From the quietly creeping opening bars of the first movement (Allegro maestoso) with a march figure, moving quickly to a more lyrical melody, punctuated by a fanfare in the winds, this is music that sets the tone for an imaginary and wordless opera scene. It is worth remembering that Mozart’s first performance of this concerto in 1785 was followed by the composer’s dazzling piano improvisations. A critic of the time, Franz Niemetschek, reported that his playing was of a level that “captivated every listener and established Mozart as the greatest pianist of his time.”

Pianist Taner underlined the music’s frivolity in the partly humorous and playful final movement (Allegro vivace assai), which is a bit like the scenery of an opera buffa. The different moods and characters could have had even more contrasts. The cadenzas (heard at the end of the first and third movements) were brilliantly played by Taner. With a witty and effortless, lively back and forth between orchestra and piano and with a crystal-clear Mozart touch that few pianists are able to conjure up on the grand piano, Taner offered a Mozart interpretation that will stay in the listener’s memory for a long time.

Taner’s piano playing was effortless and never ponderous. This was very assertive, sparkling Mozart playing – flowing, bright-sounding and also radiating warmth. The orchestral accompaniment was also quite impressive. It was sometimes on the verge of being too delicate in the strings, but on the other hand Manasi essentially achieved a perfect balance between grace and power, with a sweet, singing orchestral sound that is an enormous privilege and specialty in Mozart. I would like to say that this is the best Mozart conducting I have heard in recent times, a real delight in one of Mozart’s most consistently serene great late piano concertos.

After the intermission, the audience listened to an outstanding interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini by Matthias Manasi and the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro, who presented this grander, darker work in an astonishingly lively and brilliant performance. Manasi chose fast tempi. Tchaikovsky’s tone poem is inspired by Dante’s story of the woman who has an adulterous affair with her brother-in-law and the lovers are then condemned to ride the winds of hell for all eternity. It was clear that Manasi loves Tchaikovsky’s music and is completely absorbed in it.

After the slow Wagnerian-like chords of the introduction, Manasi immediately set a brisk tempo that emphasized the drama of the work and demonstrated intense playing by the musicians, in which they fully showed off their virtuoso skills. The dramatic storm built until suddenly there was a moment of calm and the clarinetist played his wonderful solo, which sounded suitably captivating and enigmatic as it leads to the theme of love (or lust), a melody that is both soaring and unsettling. The section that follows illustrates the plight of Francesca and her lover Paolo as they search for a haven for their eternal love. The strings brought unabashed richness, intensity and beauty to the climax of the theme. Manasi crafted this section with breathtaking intensity and highly intelligent build-up before the full orchestra intensified its build-up to the passionate finale, which ultimately led to a stunning, stormy climax and which was brought by Manasi to an explosive, breathtaking and energetic end. The climb from the ‘Poco più mosso’ to the final climax was as artfully controlled as any I’ve heard, and yet the sound seemed altogether new.

The virtuosity and sonic opulence of the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro was always controlled by Manasi and very intelligently directed in emotionally gripping directions. Manasi’s passion for Tchaikovsky’s music and the intensity of his conducting were clearly transmitted to the musicians, who visibly enjoyed this grandiose and rousing interpretation. The conductor demonstrated a close knowledge of its varied structure. In Francesca da Rimini, Manasi showed his deep connection with the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, whose character he perfectly captured both in its symphonic stature and in its undisguised emotionality.

Manasi managed to precisely balance every phrasing, from the largest to the smallest motivic detail. It was not just the harmonic harmony that mattered, but also the nuanced, balanced tone in each individual vocal group, which gave the melodic phrases and all chords their own specific color and special characteristics. At times the volume of the brass was almost at the limit of being too loud. It is obvious that Matthias Manasi is a conductor with fantastic body language and gestures, who tells the musicians exactly what he wants at the moment – and that was audible and tangible from the first note in this concert. Manasi’s youthful exuberance is among his most obvious attributes, along with his spirited podium style. When the world-famous conductor stands at the podium, the orchestra sounds radiant, contoured and very precisely nuanced in volume and color shades. There was big-night energy in the hall all evening.

After the intense interpretation of Francesca da Rimini, cheers and standing ovations filled the hall of the Teatro Poupex.

Beatriz Pereira
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