Beethoven in Bucharest

I’m in Romania!

Remus played a really wonderful performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto last night with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra at the Athenaeum Roman in Bucharest. This has to be one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. I love going there and I know Remus loves to play there, it’s also kind of his spiritual home as he performs there every year and it is his home town.

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By Roza Zah

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I always get so nervous when he plays and have developed this superstitious tic of holding my fingers crossed for the entire performance. I’ve done this since the very first time I saw him play, years ago and since it always goes well I’m just kind of afraid not to do it now in case I wreck his performance! I am not generally a superstitious person, in fact I’m completely scathing of most superstitions (and the Romanians have a lot!) but somehow it feels really wrong to uncross them now so I still do it.

With Remus' parents in the audience

With Remus’ parents in the audience

I don’t know why I get nervous, because I know he can play. He’s pretty much solid as a rock. It’s just that this time I was on the edge of my seat because the Beethoven Concerto is one of those pieces. Every note has to be perfect, if you fall off one the whole thing can come unravelled and it’s also not a piece he’s lived with for long, this was his first big performance of it with orchestra. Also, being a great artist musically-speaking means taking great risks, and while he always seems to pull it off, being a violinist and orchestral player and knowing his playing inside out, I can always notice those moments when he’s about to make a brave decision and really go for something and my heart’s in my mouth waiting to see if it works! It always does so somehow you’d think I’d uncross my fingers and chill, but I just care too much, I can’t! I burn a lot of energy at his concerts just sitting in the audience, sometimes I would rather be on stage. Anyway, he flew me all the way to Romania just to have me there and I guess it’s my job to get sweaty palms and channel lucky vibes at him across the auditorium, so that’s what I did.

And he was wonderful. I was very proud.

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Thank you to Roza Zah for the wonderful photos of the concert.

It’s not just a great hall and a great concert but a great orchestra too. I’ve got to know them quite well over the years and they are genuinely one of my favourite orchestras in the world. They have a very particular sound which I think I would recognise anywhere. Their string section has a solid, full and warm, warm sound to it and pretty much describes them as people too… warm and wonderful. I wish they would play in London one day so my colleagues and friends could hear them. In general, I have to say that the standard of orchestral playing in Romania is not up to the levels of other places in Europe, although they have their beautiful traits (and I have my favourites here – including the Brasov Filarmonic and the National Radio Orchestra of Romania who are wonderful). But the Enescu Phil is an exception and I love them with my heart! I have to admit that I’ve only seen them play symphonies, and concertos with Remus so I don’t know if it is that they know him so well or if they are always this way, but they seem so responsive to him and no matter who is wielding the baton or what Remus does, they’re always with him and always making a gorgeous sound. I get prouder of them every time I go to a concert.

Today he performs the concerto again at 19:00 in the same hall and I’ll be more relaxed this time, then we’re going out for some beers with some friends.

But until then, I have no kids here with me (Thank you Nana Pip and Grandad!) and time to sleep, blog, chill and go to my favourite place in Bucharest, the Grande Café Galleron  for a pre-concert drink. So if you need me, I’ll be here:

Lucky me!!!

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