01 February 2015

Krzysztof Meisinger, Sumi Jo, and the Capella Bydgostiensis Chamber Orchestra

Last month, we were at the Philharmonie yet again. We didn't watch a performance of the Berliner Philharmoniker, but instead we watched a performance of Krzysztof Meisinger and Sumi Jo, together with the Capella Bydgostiensis Chamer Orchestra. Krzysztof Meisinger is a Polish virtuoso guitarist and conductor, while Sumi Jo is a world-renowned coloratura soprano singer. I was so excited when I saw that they would be performing a couple months beforehand, and so we bought tickets and landed seats at the third row. Wow, this was fun.

The program for that evening consisted of a very eclectic bunch of music, not your traditional program for classical music. In fact, the first half consisted of four pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 5 and 9, followed by his Guitar Concerto, and the Melodia Sentimental. I am only familiar with the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, for voice and guitar. Sumi Jo appeared in glittering style, and even though she gave a superb performance, her throat was dry and asked Meisinger to repeat the coda, as she accidentally inserted a break in there. The second time around, she did it perfectly.

I preferred the second half of the concert, which started with Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Oh, this was splendid. I only heard recordings of this piece before, and seeing it performed in front of me was electrifying. That Adagio was a killer. I guess the performance was too good, that most of the audience even clapped in between movements.

After that, three vocal pieces followed. First, it was Julius Benedict's The Gypsy and the Bird, followed by Giuseppe Verdi's Caro nome, an aria from the opera Rigoletto. Finally, it was Emmanuel Chabrier's España, for soprano, guitar, and orchestra. Sumi Jo delivered. I can see the veins in her neck throbbing and vibrating as she sang those high notes. After Caro nome, she even got a standing ovation. She was really amazing, I should say.

We were more amazed at the encore. There were three pieces that were played as encores. The first one had even a little drama in it: Sumi Jo and Krzysztof Meisinger acted like they were arguing about whether to perform another piece or not, and Sumi Jo was acting a little like a diva, and went backstage. Meisinger went to the podium regardless, and started conducting. So the music started to play, and Sumi Jo appeared again, singing from the back, and with her arms around the horn player. Later on, she came forward, and even went to the first row, and gave a leery gaze towards two now-empty seats (two people apparently were in a rush to get out and didn't bother staying for the encore), and then she grabbed the arms of a man sitting on the first row and even danced with him.

The second encore was in my opinion, the most breath-taking. Krzysztof Meisinger took his guitar out again, and played the first and fourth movements of Carlo Domeniconi's Koyunbaba Suite for solo guitar. Take a listen to that piece if you have the chance, it is simply breath-taking, that I was at the edge of my seat while he was performing it.

Finally, Sumi Jo came out again, and sang a Korean song, Blue Mountain, after expressing her wish that the two Koreas be reunified again. After all, 2014 was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and therefore it was quite appropriate.

It was overall a magical evening, and plenty of important people were there, including the Ambassador of South Korea to Germany, sitting right in the middle of the first row. There were plenty of Koreans in the audience, perhaps because after all, Sumi Jo is performing. It was definitely worth it.

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