Standing ovation for the Berliner and Petrenko who triumph in Santa Cecilia

Closing concert of the RomaEuropa Festival with music by Mendelssohn and Sostakovic

With a long standing ovation and stadium choirs, the Roman public of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia last night greeted the Berlin Philharmonics and their conductor Kirill Petrenko, at the end of a concert that laid out Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottese’ and the tenth symphony by Dmitri Sostakovic. An amazing performance by the famous German orchestra, considered among the four best teams in the world, and by Petrenko who has led it since 2019. The Berliners had come to Rome for the last time in 2004 with the previous conductor Simon Rattle and yesterday’s concert, realized in collaboration with the Embassy of Germany, it was the closing event of the RomaEuropa Festival as well as the only Italian stage of the European tour of the Berliners who, in this moment of resurgence of the infections, especially in Germany, they wanted to dedicate to the victims of Covid.

From the very first bars of Mendelssohn’s third ‘Scottish’ symphony, the audience of the Sala Santa Cecilia, full from first to last, was mesmerized by the sound of the German orchestra, always full, perfect and flawless, and by the extraordinary charisma of the its director who with a perfect gesture calibrated the pianissimi, the nuances and the tempos of the masterpiece that embraces Mendelssohn’s entire creative arc. The composer began writing it in 1829, at the age of twenty, to complete it in the period of maturity, 1842, when it was performed for the first time at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Petrenko directed it according to the prescriptions of its author, without pauses between the various movements, like a single flow.

After the break and with an expansion of the orchestral staff, the Russian conductor took the podium for Sostakovic’s tenth symphony, which the Russian composer wrote shortly after Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953. The work is a sort of showdown between the musician and the dictator who had put composers like Profofiev, Kachaturian and Sostakovic himself on the back burner, calling them “enemies of the people” and damaging their careers in the Soviet Union. For this reason the composer, after a first ‘Moderato’ movement, defined by the musicologist Franco Pulcini as “a desperate desert”, inserts a short Allegro in which a wild and angry orchestra paints a devil who is actually the musical representation of Stalin. But in the third movement, Allegretto, Sostakovic arrives, represented by a theme of four notes, D, E flat, Do and Si (which in German notation are D, S, C and H like Dmitri SCHostakovic), which becomes the element structural of the symphony and that also in the fourth movement, after a blow from the tail of the devil-Stalin, emerges victorious. A test of extraordinary virtuosity for orchestra and conductor, which inflames the audience, literally magnetized by the magnificent performance of orchestra and conductor, up to the long final standing ovation.