Monday, 18 October 2010
Light of the world
Heck, you might think, that's a bit steep as an epithet for young talent. But I challenge you to find a curmudgeon who didn't come out of either of the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra of Venezuela's concerts last week floating on air. The photos by our top man Chris Christodoulou catch it all very well, as usual.
Was a bit surprised to see nice Fiona Maddocks's qualification in yesterday's Observer that normal standards didn't apply, given the huge size of the orchestra, whereafter - it may have been subbing - she added no word about their Tchaikovsky Fifth under Christian Vasquez. The point is that, as I wrote in my Arts Desk review, I found it stunning by any standards - disciplined, flexible, profound and, of course, thrilling with all those strings including the much-mentioned 13 double basses going full pelt at Tchaik's finale battle-drill. The TCYO is heading in the direction of its big brother, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, which is now one of the great orchestras of the world, under Abbado at least, but it need have no fears of feeling inferior, just a desire to aspire to the same extraordinary standards.
Some folk moan that we get the same old Ginastera and Bernstein Mambo encores, that the chucking of the jackets and the conga-ing around are routine. I'd argue that it's the ritual party the kids need after working so bloody hard on their very tough programmes. That's a joy you can't fake.
How I wish I'd heard their Prokofiev Fifth on Tuesday, too (I couldn't: I was taking the BBCSO students through Grainger/Delius/Joseph Taylor and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring). There they'd already had the advantage of Sir Si taking them through it in Berlin. But don't underestimate Vasquez: he's more self-effacing in demeanour than Dudamel, but seems just as sure of what he wants and how to get it. Indeed, as Rattle famously said a few years ago, this is the most important thing going on in the world of music, and by inference it's up there with the most positive things going on in the world, period. The potential for good is limitless, and look at all the kids who've been inspired already.
More background on the Carrenos, and the Sistema experience, from my Arts Desk colleague Kate Connolly.