Sinfonia concertante - review by Kristóf Csengery


“[...] I was happily and with much interest looking forward to the premiere of Levente Gyöngyösi’s Sinfonia concertante, an opus composed for four percussion players and performed at the concert of the Pannon Philharmonics as the opening event of the symphonic discoveries on 15 November, 2013. The piece was ordered from the composer by the Amadinda Percussion Group celebrating its 30th anniversary. Some years previously, already at the time of composing his First symphony, the composer asked the members of the quartet for advice regarding the use of instruments; he also did so at the time of composing Sinfonia concertante, occasionally attending their concerts. The solo parts of the three-movement piece (fast-slow-fast with a slow introduction) were preformed by the four members of the Amadinda, Zoltán Rácz, Károly Bojtos, Aurél Holló and Zoltán Váczi, with outstanding stamina and fascinating virtuosity, not to mention the joy and the entire musical-human identification. The Pannon Philharmonics was conducted by the orchestra’s leading conductor, Tibor Bogányi.

Since the beginning of his career, Gyöngyösi has consistently studied the retrospective mixture of styles which many refer to as neo-romanticism yet others call new eclectics or post-modernism and which impartially goes back to the entire history of music, including the inspiration of the most different genres and composers. Neither did it happen differently this time: the three movements of the Sinfonia concertante bombarded the audience with the most surprising stylistic mixtures. Right at the beginning of the opening movement, oriental harmonies could be discovered, followed by a jazzy section which ended in a part presenting the effects of pop (namely Andrew Lloyd Webber). Nevertheless, there were Bernsteinish moments along with Bartók in the background of harmonies and characters. Moreover, Steve Reich also appeared amidst the infiltrations of the musical memory-fractions. Charmingly beautiful is the slow movement which the composer dedicated to the memory of Zsolt Erőss, the mountain climber who passed away under tragic circumstances. Here, Gyöngyösi works up a Transylvanian folk song in a silent and poetic musical meditation. At last, the finale begins with a strong, rhythmic drumming followed by sections with big band effects and parts reminding us of symphonic jazz with important solos. And again, the conjured character of Bartók appears in this very dynamic closing movement. The entire piece is characterised by an uninterrupted, rich invention, a brilliant composing technique in terms of both form and scoring, and an obvious “audience-friendly” tone. All of this, consequently, almost predestines the piece for a popularity unusual in the case of contemporary music. This was also supported by the enthusiastic welcome of the premiere.”