Last night Istanbul welcomed a Viennese gentleman, one of the last living examples of the first Viennese school performers: the 88 years old pianist Paul Badura-Skoda. He was accompanied by the Orchestra’Sion, a young orchestra subsidized by the culture commission of Notre Dame de Sion, a French High School established in Istanbul since 1856.
The guest of the last New Year’s Concert of Berlin Philharmonic was the pianist of the legendary Beaux-Arts trio Menachem Presler, who had decided to start a solo career at the age of 90. During the interview following the concert, Sir Simon Rattle said that Mr. Presler was one of the very few remaining representatives of a school, which doesn’t exist anymore and therefore should be taken care of and listened to very preciously. Menachem Presler had chosen to play a Mozart concerto, we have been served with Beethoven’s fifth in E flat major. I would have really liked to know Mr. Badura-Skoda’s point of view in regard to his repertoire choice. Since this concerto is a very demanding piece both mentally and physically. I felt Paul Badura-Skoda’s relief during the second part of the Schubert impromptu op. 90 No 2, again in E flat major :), which he offered as an encore. And then, completely on the roll, he played another Beethoven encore, the C major polonaise. He completely swept the audience away during these pieces. On the other hand young musicians playing any instrument had a great lesson about how to phrase a melodic line. Badura-Skoda masters this unique way of building the melodic arc, which is the trade mark of the school to which he belongs.
Orchestra’Sion has done an excellent job in the accompaniment of this very special guest. Even though the altis and cellis had the tendency to be “low” several times during the concerto, they were excellent in Beethoven’s second symphony. As the young conductor Orçun Orçunsel stated, this symphony, most of the time considered as to be “Haydenesque”, is in fact the first work where Beethoven starts to gain his own, unique language: unexpected attacks, great dynamic contrasts, unexpected short modulations, vigourous and forceful. Orchestra Sion was exceptional in its interpretation. It is a great happiness and privilege to see a young orchestra to grow and to acquire its “own” sound. This is such a time, perseverance and patience demanding process.
One of the most important tools rendering life meaningful is “hope” which we have, when things happen at most unexpected times. We can only say thank you, both to the French high school Notre Dame de Sion for their support and to the orchestra and its conductor for their humongous work.