1. The reason why you chose these pieces for the ‘2021 Symphony Festival’?
The three composers presented in our program for the prestigious Orchestra Festival are linked not only by an extraordinary musical inventive ability but also by a genius skill to orchestrate at an absolute level – for which you need a top-class orchestra like the GPO!
These features ascribe Prokofiev, Ravel and Respighi among the Twentieth Century’s music highest representatives.
I’m honoured to be at my third appearance at this unique event hosted by the Seoul Arts Center and it was at my first Festival appearance in 2019 that I proposed the combination Ravel and Respighi in the second part of the concert.
It was a powerful emotion to perceive the warmth and the great joy of the audience at the end of the performance of both “Rhapsodie Espagnole” and “Feste Romane”.
The audience’s reaction motivated me to continue that path, hoping that this time too it will reach the people’s hearts in the same way.
2. How would you describe the theme of these pieces? /How do you feel about the theme?
There are childish aspects that unite the two pieces – “Ma mère l’oye” is a collection of fairy tales in its entirety, and “Pini di Roma” first movement is based on ancient melodies that accompany the games of Italian children – as well as the final movements are both “apotheosis”, but perceived and expressed in the most different possible ways.
The contrast between the two sound universes is truly extraordinary and challenging: rarefied, impalpable, intimate, metaphysical sounds and a seductive refinement in Ravel, while Respighi’s music is made of sensations taken to the extreme, expressions of “his” vision of the external world.
3. Which movement is your favourite? Why do you think this is the most attractive movement of the symphony? What are the noticeable instruments?
In Ravel’s piece, the first and the last movements have their own profound meaning, although inside in the apparent simplicity of the work’s artistic conception. But in the fifth and last movement, Le Jardin féerique, the tension and natural spirituality of those sounds become almost unbearable due to its beauty and introspective capacity: I always struggle to control the deep emotion that this piece causes in my subconscious.
On the other hand, in Respighi’s composition, emotion is the sum of all the different expressions and sensations that gradually meet in the 4 movements of which it is composed: the feeling and “breathing” of every description of the nature and places of ancient Rome.
The execution of I pini del Gianicolo – the third movement-, is always an extraordinary moment due to the incredible ability that Respighi shows in imitating nature’s sounds with the orchestra.
And talking about a noticeable instrument, how extraordinary was the idea to introduce a recording of real birds at this moment? A groundbreaking idea at that time and, in my opinion, not just the desire to introduce a product of the highest technology of the era, but also a purpose to merge reality and its imitation, what is real and what it is not.
An attempt perhaps to show the intangibility and the impossibility to interpret the reality itself.