Notes From The Conductor: Pictures At An Exhibition

What about your heritage did you want to explore with this concert? What do you want audiences to take away from it?

My Romanian background is very rich since I left the country as a teenager – I have many memories from my younger years. Of course Enescu is part of my identity as well, so his music flows in a way through my veins. This repertoire speaks a lot about the folkloric music and dancing that is traditionally from Romania. The Romanian Rhapsody is incredibly full of live music with a lot of different moods that ends with a very fast dance.

Why did you choose pieces by Enescu and Kodály, as opposed to other composers?

There are other composers, but Enescu is the most famous Romanian composer. I found he wasn’t played enough in Kitchener, so I thought it would be a great idea to explore this part of me with the orchestra and the musicians. Kodály’s music is more Hungarian, but the town I was born in was very close to the border so we had a lot of Hungarian culture and traditions.

Tell us about Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, what makes this one special?

Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s piece is the most famous and the most played today. The reason is very simple, because Ravel was at his time and even today one of the greatest orchestrators ever. Even if it’s a Russian piece you can feel the French flavours and colours through Ravel’s choice of instruments, although there are some unusual solo instruments like the Saxophone or Tuba. Other orchestrations tend to be a lot more aggressive or dark but Ravel’s version is a very refined one and that’s probably the reason why it is played so much.

Why did you choose to pair Pictures at an Exhibition with the Enescu and Kodály pieces?

Since Ravel’s orchestration has a similar sound to French music and Enescu studied and lived most of his life in Paris, there are a lot of similarities in the orchestration. At the same time, Russian culture can relate to Romanian and Hungarian cultures. I thought this would be a very good opportunity to hear a variety of pieces within the same instrumentation. It is also an incredible repertoire which shows the qualities of the orchestra by having many soloists and sections put forward.

– Andrei Feher