Leeuwarder Courant, 13 April 2004
BUZZING STRINGS AND SENSUAL MEZZO
Place: De Harmonie, Leeuwarden. Event: The Slovak Sinfonietta conducted by Loes Visser performed Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Pergolesi. Soloists: Karin ten Cate (Soprano) and Maria Cecilia Toledo (Mezzo Soprano). Audience: about 400 people.
Leeuwarden. The top in the business world may be a man’s world, but in music it is not very different. Women as well as orchestras too many, but the dais, the place where the show is directed is nearly always “manned”. You occasionally come across a female director in the choir world but in the symphony world that remains highly exceptional. I remember from my childhood Carmen Campori (Frysk orchestra) and from television the Rotterdam Antonia Brico (1902-1989). Both did not make my ten-volume encyclopaedia.
Judging by her persevering performance as conductor of the Slovak Sinfonetta it will be a real battle for the De Haan publishers to keep Loes Visser out of the columns of their new edition, as far as they were planning to do so. Nobody can get round the self-asserted Loes Visser, neither on the podium nor in the concert hall. An all-ruling musical leading woman with attention for every effort and every detail. Graceful waving arms and forceful dynamic gestures, the experienced strings from Slovakia submitted to her. Without looks or blushes they delivered what they were hired to do: before the interval a few buzzing, strings technically beautifully blended serenades (Dvorak and Tchaikovsky), after the interval a meticulously, contagious accompaniment of the swan’s song by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, his Stabt Mater.
The performance of this eighteenth century version of the well-known song from the catholic liturgy was performed by the soprano Karin ten Cate (a substitute who did it very well) and the characteristic Chilean mezzo Maria Cecilia Toledo.
An intriguing phenomenon, this Toledo, with a warm almost sensual voice sound.
A quality that gave the Pergolesi’s characteristic melancholy an extra dimension.
For a moment attention had to be shared with the rocking, baggy trouser suit of the conductor, who also conducted excellently in this Stabat Mater.
And just like in Marnix Gijzen’s TV programme Farce Majeure in the past “ the cart was Marnix Gijzen’s”, on Saturday night the organ in Pergolesi was Jan Veninga’s. A native therefore, and also self-made.
Oene W. Nijdam
Leeuwarder Courant, 2004
SHARP STRINGS SPECTACLE BY UKRAINIAN ORCHESTRA
Leeuwarden- Creamy romantic passages. Devilish roars with laughter. Strings, feverishly galloping along rolling lines. It really was something that the conductor Loes Visser managed to get out of the State Symphony Orchestra from Ukraine with her graceful sculpting movements. She commanded a streamlined track that bubbled with energy and vitality.
The more stubborn passages by the Chamber Symphony in Shostakovich’s op 110a were changed into nothing but pure whipping up with pumping basses and chasing violins. The quiet, stilled moments sounded relaxed, but still kept their power. Visser’s grip was fantastic, also when Marta Abraham, now resident in the Netherlands showed herself in Beethoven’s violin concert.
Here Visser maintained a sharp fine-tuning between the orchestra and the soloist, in which there was talk of pure keeping right even in the soft passages
The soloist Abraham chose an approach that was a mixture between a dashing interpretation and a lyrically tinted approach.
Actually we got both: technically high-quality free cures, in which Abraham mercilessly let the strings have it. And sweet singing passages, sometimes softly crying high.
The middle part was stressed a little too heavily by the self-assured Abraham, but in contrast both pizzicati in the final part sounded like well-aimed pistol-shots. In short a temperamental clearly defined strings spectacle, with a depth, that could also be found back again in the orchestra. An unwilling horn was noticeably dissonant there.
Then there was Prokofiev’s “Classic” in which the Ukrainians let the dashing music bounce through the church space. And at the end Glinka’s waltz fantasy. No sugar sweet piece, but still less substantial than the rest.