She is a discovery, 27 years old, Finnish, assistant to Mikko Franck, principal conductor of the Orchester Philharmonique de Radio France: Emilia Hoving jumps on short notice when Franck has to cancel at noon before the concert due to a minor operation.
Hoving literally dances on the podium to Stravinsky’s “Firebird” suite, making the tones dance, driving with a difficult beat, maintaining tension, electrifying the air. Shimmering metal, sharp blows with a gleaming sword during Stravinsky’s magic garden fight, the bassoon wailing endlessly, iridescent strings in the harp’s arpeggio: under Hoving’s direction, the Paris orchestra shines and displays a splendor of tonal colors you can’t get enough of.
Already the first use in Gabriel Fauré’s suite Op. 80 “Pélleas et Mélisande” – smooth, velvety, fragrant, with delicately conducted voices as if from another world – makes one sit up and take note at the Philharmonie. Due to the pandemic, guest performances by big ensembles have been the exception in Berlin for two years. He had almost forgotten that orchestras can also sound very different: in Fauré’s funeral march, France’s already exquisite musicians recall an organ stop.
Impressionist fading endings, the undulating movement of the violins, the melancholy woodwinds, the shimmering opulence of the tutti, also the creeping contrabassoon in Ravel’s piano concerto “For the Left Hand” and the insidious and expressive staccato machinery in the Allegro, put on your limbs: Hoving has effortlessly mastered all of this. Aside from the obvious elegance and intimacy of his address.
Alice Sara Ott on piano makes music with the same furious intensity, building cathedrals of tones and creating a moment of bliss with her naturally bright and forgotten cadence.
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The evening belongs to women, their breadth of expression, their absolutism. Also Lili Boulanger, who composed the atmospheric “D’un soir triste” shortly before she died at the age of 24. Hoving never makes it too thick, instead developing melancholy and tragedy from the inner glow of the score. One would definitely like to see and hear the young Master more often in Berlin, in Germany; Until now, she has mainly performed in Scandinavia and France.
Sibelius “Valse triste” followed as an encore, and Alice Sara Ott played “Für Alina” before the break. Arvo Pärt’s meditative miniature is dedicated to the daughter of a family friend who was torn apart by the Cold War. Ott dedicates it to the people of Ukraine. And those who are recording them now.