|Joie de vivre! - L'Orchestre National de France in London|
Kurt Masur celebrates 80th birthday at the BBC Proms
L'Orchestre National de France and the London Philharmonic Orchestra joined forces for a very unique joint program at BBC's 2007 Proms in London. The occasion was a special one, not merely for the sheer size of forces on hand to perform Tchaikovsky's elegant Serenade for Strings and Bruckner's mighty Symphony No. 7, but for the fact that the celebrated maestro honored with the charge of leading this massive battalion was, himself, celebrating his birthday - his 80th to be exact.
On this extraordinary night, Kurt Masur, who holds principal conductor positions with both ensembles, united the two groups into one colossal assembly that included an unprecedented 12 double basses, legions of brass and a sea of strings and woodwinds. The result was an evening of music that proved to be not just a spectacular show of musical might, but also an artfully crafted display of poise, elegance and subtle nuance. From the masses, Masur successfully milked both triumph and pathos, and acoustically accomplished both the veritable fortified wall-of-sound as well as the poignant pianissimo required of the evening's repertoire.
The ecstatic crowd at Royal Albert Hall cheered their well-wishes to the birthday boy who, in turn, treated his admirers to an encore in the form of Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger. Afterwards, the Maestro was honored by a reception at the French Embassy and awarded the medal of Grand Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.