Portrait of Love
RNCM Concert Hall, 28 April 2012
There was a gorgeous quality to all of the four works that made up this delightful concert.
The first, Anton Webern’s Langsamer Satz, took a long, elaborate look at how the unexpected gift of love alters a life. It is not by mistake that we speak of ‘falling in love’; one fateful, forward step and the abyss rises up to meet us.
We next heard a select seven of the eighteen waltzes (the so-called Liebeslieder Waltzes) in which Brahms explored the many, myriad splendors of the divine emotion. Adventures amorous and dalliances wild with caramel-eyed ladies wearing dirndls danced through your mind as you listened.
Our attention then turned towards Dvorak’s Love Songs, which were sung in Czech by the sumptuous-sounding, golden-voiced Anna Stephany (pictured above). Golden music it was too, yet emitting sometimes a nervy vibe, like a lover who has made an appeal and is open to the possibility of rejection.
These three works, all absolutely wonderful in their various ways, led up to the main event of the evening, a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence.
Never entirely without melancholy, its predominant tone was blessedly one of energetic and exhilarating emotion, which is what love is most of the time. One sees a boundless horizon before one’s eyes and enjoys a feeling of infinite possibility. An inspiring piece of music which apparently came relatively easily to the composer, Souvenir de Florence functions almost as a proof of the existence of love. If Tchaikovsky never experienced love, he couldn’t have composed it. He experienced love, therefore love exists: QED.