Vienna has been known as the ‘City of Music’ forever. When Attila & Marion Glatz decided to publicize their hometown; what could be more applicable than a musical pastiche of the city’s heritage. “Salute to Vienna” is just that, except a subtitle might well be Salute to a cultural legacy! Feeling a little adroit… how about trying to name about a dozen famous classical composers and musicians who were either native or residents of this old Austrian capitol. (See end of article). *
The concert is tri-protocoled; naturally there is a full orchestra and conductor; then three talented soloists who are also adept at pantomime; and as icing – eight ballet dancers who perform in duets as well as a corps de ballet. The choreography is so cleverly blocked as to make even the Great Hall of Hamilton Place seem intimate and proximate. Lithe; fluid of movement; beautiful and impeccably costumed, the dancers are awesome, and then there are their female partners…equally as watchable. Future audiences, note the omitted ‘spotting’.
The solo voices belong to Szabolcs Kádár whose buffo demeanor and mellow tenor helped sell each solo and enhanced description of the pieces he performed. Soprano Katalin Benedekffy has a full-range talent that is coupled with a most expressive façade and an almost gamin rendering manner, especially in her duets. Tenor Andreas Schager displays an innate ability to describe and parody the usually unfamiliar & difficult lyrics. The audience understands the concept. Benedekffy’s utilization of a boa in the delightful Mein Herr Marquis from “The Bat” was a study in theatrical prop exploitation. Audiences are sure to be singing along with Schager’s recognizable “yours is my heart alone’ from Lehar’s “Land of Smiles”.
Maestro Christian Schulz is the adhesive that makes the evening so memorable. His conducting style is (no stereotyping intended) crisp and disciplined. Close attention is paid to tempi with him taking certain liberties with the pauses that only enrich the dramatic effect of his chosen pieces. The waltzes are metronomically ¾ and every note properly emphasized. This was definitely demonstrated in Heuberger’s familiar ‘Der opernball’ overture that opens the post inter-acte programme. The ‘Gypsy Princess’ duet was energetic without being frenzied, while Strauss’s “Weiner bonbons” exemplified pantomime as well as descriptive dance. Schulz has an intuitive sense of his audience and responds accordingly. His repartee is self-deprecating without any of the cornball, saccharine or patronization projected by the likes of Andre Rieu & company. The man is real!
A local addition was included; Hamilton’s Children’s Choir performed two numbers including a piece without any of the soloists fronting. Another triumph for the youngsters and Zamfira Poloz.
The concert closes with ‘Gold and Silver waltzes by Lehár and then, the expected encore of ‘Blue Danube’. The creative tempi, the ballet accompaniment and the visual impact of the costumes will leave audiences humming on exit and then all the way home. The Salute is an annual event; plan on attending the 2016 iteration.
*Those dozen iconic musicians from para.1… alphabetically: – Beethoven; Brahms; Bruckner; Haydn; Kreisler; Mahler; Mozart; Salieri; Schubert; Schwenberg; Strauss (2) & Von Suppé.