Friday night, I attended a Belgrade Philharmonic chamber music concert. The regular full-blown Philharmonic season begins in October, but there are interesting chamber music ensemble concerts this month. Last night, nine musicians performed dramatic, powerful Beethoven Symphony no. 3 (Eroica), a favorite of mine.
I was happy to get tickets for two May concerts, but figuring out how to purchase them was a challenge. They couldn’t be obtained at a ticket office or online. You had to call the Philharmonic office at a specified time to reserve a space and then pick up your ticket the evening of the performance.
After several unsuccessful attempts, I sent an email and got a quick response from a polite person who reserved my space. A surprise to me, it turns out that these are special “gratis” concerts, with small audiences seated near the musicians. It was fantastic observing them perform at such close range!
Chamber Music Nonet
Last night, Beethoven’s symphony was performed by “only nine musicians in an unusual arrangement adapted for a nonet“! The original Eroica, is usually performed by a group of about sixty musicians. The talented musicians last night were splendid. They included:
- Mirjana Nešković – Violin
- Ivana Uzelac – Viola
- Stana Krstajić – Flute
- Boban Pešić – Oboe
- Veljko Klenkovski – Clarinet
- Nikola Ćirić – Horn
- Nenad Janković – Bassoon
- Boban Stošić – Double Bass
- Katarina Stanković – Cello
The special adaption of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony was created by the Natalia Ensemble, an energetic group of young musicians and members of leading European orchestras. The ensemble aims to “perform chamber music at the highest level” and has received worldwide acclaim for its efforts. Without a conductor, they approach big symphonic repertoire by “studying and performing the score as chamber music, taking full responsibility and control of the outcome”.
“Playing the Eroica with nine musicians is a challenge! Each section contains additional musical fragments, but the power of Beethoven’s expression is not diminished!”
Belgrade Philharmonic History
Founded in 1923, Belgrade Philharmonic is considered the “leading orchestra in the region”. The Philharmonic has “fostered a long-lasting friendship with conductor Zubin Mehta,” who regularly gives charity concerts with the orchestra. I learned of Maestro Mehta when attending a Sarajevo Philharmonic concert in Bosnia-Herzegovina a few years ago. Mehta played an important role in a “turning point for the Sarajevo Philharmonic,” when he conducted Mozart’s Requiem in the bombed remains of Sarajevo City Hall.
Starting with the 2017/18 season, Gabriel Feltz is Chief Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic, with Daniel Raiskin as Principal Guest Conductor. I’m looking forward to the next chamber orchestra concert, I. Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, on May 20th.
Belgrade weather has been warm and pleasant but stormy the last few days. With all the blooming trees and flowers, spring air is pungent. It can be perfectly clear, and within a few minutes the sky turns dark, there’s cracking thunder and lightning, and a torrential downpour floods the street. I’ve noticed thunder frightening more than one otherwise calm baby, and it’s also taken me by surprise a few times. It seems when I have an umbrella – no rain – but when I don’t, I’m huddling inside a café waiting for the deluge to stop. Actually, that’s not so bad – time for another espresso!