‘Clearly a different league’

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We’re delighted that our performances in Berlin and Hamburg made such a deep and positive impression on the music critics. The imaginative presentation of ‘Midnight Sun’ grabbed reviewers’ attention from the very beginning, when violinists from the orchestra emerged from around the auditorium, sustaining a single unison tone as they slowly converged on the stage. Matthias Nöther for the Berlin Morgenpost wrote, ‘It is rare in such a symphony concert that nobody can tell what is happening in those first moments, and that’s refreshing.’ Bachtrack reviewer Stefan Pillhofer said that this unique opening set the tone for a performance that was both festive and mystical, and he also noted the extra-musical dimensions to the presentation: ‘The musicians were dressed in orange and blue tones, symbolising the different brightness levels of a low midnight sun. And the hall lighting was also used to support different moods and sometimes even imitate rhythms.’

In Kristjan’s Aurora, the illuminations echoed the dancing lights of the aurora borealis, and Nöther wrote that Kristjan as conductor ‘moved almost like a pop star under these coloured lights’. In the Tagespiegel Elias Pietsch likened the maestro to ‘a goblin, jumping across the stage and whipping up more and more energy from his protégés. Cue a wildly successful interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, with the orchestra igniting a veritable musical storm.’ The same reviewer praised the musicians’ joy of playing, saying that ‘This joy probably has a lot to do with playing by heart: due to the absence of music stands there is movement on stage, the musicians interact with each other, they look at each other a lot – the interplay is so alive.’

Joachim Mischke from the Hamburger Abendblatt was another reviewer wowed by the orchestra’s dynamic memorised performance and especially the musicians’ interpretation of The Firebird: ‘Keeping Stravinsky’s high-octane score from crashing under its own weight is no easy feat for an orchestra, let alone one with the scores in front of the players’ noses. But by heart, like the rest of the almost two-hour, uninterrupted programme? As a kind of story ballet, in which groups of instruments or individuals wander across the stage, in which they dance in rhythm and the concertmaster takes off her pumps in the midst of all this excess energy? This is clearly a different league.’

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