Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grand Officier Barenboim and Omer Meir Wellber in Paris

Orchestre de Paris, Salle Pleyel, March 1st 2011

Symphony No.4 - F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Piano Concerto No.2 - F. Liszt
Siegfried Idyll - R. Wagner
Piano Concerto No.1 - F. Liszt 

Orchestre de Paris
Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

To me Daniel Barenboim is simply the best person in classical music. This man, larger than life,  offers so much to music and through music. He's put his extraordinary musical talent to serve bigger causes, be it classical music, theater, or broader social causes.
His renditions of Wagner operas are still unmatched by any conductor, and his work with Staatskapelle in Berlin is utterly brilliant -- there you have an orchestra with character, that sounds peculiar.
The opera goers and classical music aficionados in Germany and in Berlin in particular follow him. As a head of the Staatsoper UdL in Berlin he made  many young and talented directors come and create in that theater. Pissy traditionalists moderately protested but nevertheless followed Barenboim in his musical and theatrical adventures. His open-mindedness, openness to young musicians of all sorts, and his simple love for music make me a great fan of his. Only through my admiration of Barenboim I can understand the folks who define themselves as "fans no matter what" ;)

His previous assistant at UdL was Philippe Jordan who's nowadays the music director of the Paris Opera, while his place --two years ago-- was filled by a 30 years old Omer Meir Wellber, a hugely talented Israeli conductor who is already appointed as music director of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia for 2011-2014, and is the principal conductor of the Israeli Opera.

Omer Meir Wallber

And so, as we celebrate the bicentenary since the birth of Franz Liszt this year, it was not a surprise to see in the program that Barenboim would perform two piano concertos by Liszt, and even less surprising that Wellber would conduct l'Orchestre de Paris, the orchestra that sounded more inspired than usual. La Salle Pleyel packed like a pomegranate.

I am far too jaded for Mendelssohn's 4th. I've heard it so many times to be able to plunge myself into this music. Still it was a good piece to get ourselves familiar with Omer and his conducting, which is accurate, no grand gestures, no Dudamel-spasms... -- just a honest guidance of the orchestra by a young fellow, fully focused onto making orchestra delivering a clearly textured sound. That clarity was even more underlined in Siegfried Idyll. Of course it was lovely but no orchestra can beat Budapest Festival Orchestra in this score. Keep en eye on young Omer Meir Wellber! Together with David Afkham he might well be one of the future greats.

As for the rest, Daniel performed the two piano concertos with great passion. Dexterity is maybe not his forte at this point of his career, but his sens for transitions from one mood to another, the limpidity in execution making the movement almost naturally flow from one another...  that's something you only gain with experience. 

Note also that a day before this concert (i.e. February 28, 2011), Daniel Barenboim received the second highest order of the Legion of Honor, the Grand Officer (Grand Officier). Congratulations maestro!


  1. Thank you for posting this review and the news of the recent honor bestowed on Daniel Barenboim. I, too, am a devoted fan of Barenboim.

    And I will look forward to following Omer Meir Wallber's career.

  2. Hi Mary!
    Wallber is definitely the one to keep and eye on. I believe David Afkham and him might become big in the years to come (together with a few more young guys, Kazuki Yamada, Lionel Bringuier...)