To close its second edition on the theme “Lux in tenebris – Angels and demons”, the Festival des Bernardins invites Clément Mao-Takacs’ Secession Orchestra to musically address this question of angels and the devil, of the real and the invisible, in complicity with actress Fanny Ardant and soprano Axelle Fanyo.
Since the 13th century, the Collège des Bernardins has been a place of teaching and research. If the Revolution mistreated its first priesthood, the institution has regained its vocation by becoming a historic place of encounters and culture open to all. Thanks to the close collaboration between the different poles that compose it, the public is invited to reflect on universal values, and more particularly on good and evil on the occasion of the second opus of its multidisciplinary Festival. To evoke this duality in music, the conductor Clément Mao-Takacs and his Secession Orchestra offer a rather original and eclectic but equally coherent program to bring the devil and the angels into dialogue.
In the first part, it is the devil who makes himself heard first with The Soldier’s Story by Igor Stravinsky and by the voice of actress Fanny Ardant. Conscientious, although probably unaccustomed to following the score of a rhythmically measured text and a musical direction, the actress always seems a little surprised when leaving her parts. Nevertheless, during the evening, carried by her articulations and her smooth voice, she detaches herself a little from her text and seems to take more and more ease and pleasure in reciting in complicity with the musicians. As a great professional, Fanny Ardant knows how to catch up elegantly when her reading is a little too diagonal, easily fooling her mostly bewitched audience. The seven young musicians who accompany him are precise and well aware of the phrasing. They communicate their pleasure of playing during the final dances, in particular the Ragtime between the Soldier and the Princess or the frenzied dance that follows. The direction of Clément Mao-Takacs does not fail to surprise: sometimes elegant, flexible and wide, or very straight, it catches the eye of the spectator. If these lively gestures can please because they are thoughtful and attentive, they always surprise as to their irregularity (sometimes in advance, sometimes behind the metronomic beat and the departures). The accustomed and always attentive orchestra knows how to draw inspiration from everything with homogeneity.
In the second part of the concert, the floor is given to the angels with the Symphony No. 4 “Los Angeles” by Arvo Pärt, invoking the invisible through its long, enigmatic and intense harmonies. The ecstasy arrives at the very end of the evening with the (too short) final Lied ” Das himmlische Leben (The Heavenly Life) excerpt from the Symphony No. 4 by Gustav Mahler, interpreted by the young soprano Axelle Fanyo. Although she has her score on a tablet that she holds in her hands, the singer easily detaches herself from it to share her expressive and sensitive phrasing. His voice is present with balance, resonating pleasantly under the vaults of the nave of the college. Warm and clear throughout the range, it is particularly mellow in the bass, touching in the midrange and caressing in the treble. Her very careful diction gives meaning to her text, which she sings without haste and yet always very in place. The orchestra accompanies it with very soft romantic colors, contrasting with the melodies and orchestrations of the previous works.
The public powerfully salutes the artists who, through the voice of Clément Mao-Takacs, say they are very happy to see him so numerous and so warm in these difficult times. Carried away by all these celestial colors and harmonies, the Good and especially the Beautiful certainly prevail this evening.
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Story of soldier, devil and angels at the Collège des Bernardins – News – Ôlyrix
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