On February 17, a concert of the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra was held in the town of Pleven, which is part of the celebrations of the anniversary of the Cultural Institute. The concert included works by the composer Hristo Yotsov, three of which were performed for the first time. The program was structured in gradation, and in the last instrumental concerto the composer stood on the stage and performed the solo part of the percussion.
The concert began with the Festive Overture “Pleven 2023” – a work composed by Hristo Yotsov especially on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra. On the concert programme, the composer’s words can be read: “The overture begins with a bright fanfare theme that appears several times as a leitmotif”. An interesting point in this composition is the idea for each of the instrumental groups in the orchestra to be presented through its own ensemble fragment, including solo performances. For the instrumentalists of the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra, this concert treatment of the individual parties was a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the perfect balance of orchestral groups.
The trumpet and trombone concerto were written in 2022 for Mihail Yosifov (trumpet) and Velislav Stoyanov (trombone), who also performed the premiere performance. The work, composed in the spirit of the classical three-part instrumental concerto (first part – sonata allegro, second part – a theme with variations and improvisations, and third part – rondo), organically combines the classical tradition with jazz improvisation.
The last piece on the programme was the marimba and percussion concerto Paintings of Two Worlds, composed in 2019. Vasilena Serafimova (marimba) and the composer Hristo Yotsov (drums) performed as soloists. Again in the programme we read: “I combined different pairs of things: marimba – a representative of the “classical” percussion instruments with its melodic and harmonic capabilities, with the drums as carriers of characteristic rhythms, pulsation and rich timbre and dynamic possibilities; the classical and the jazz musicians… ; written music and improvisations – the marimba party is mostly written, and in some places there is an opportunity to improvise, while the drum party is constructed entirely as improvisation”.
Hristo Yotsov’s musical style is multi-layered. This is evident not only by the skilful handling of classical and jazz music, but also by the unique combination of timbres in the orchestration of works. Particularly valuable in this style is the unification of thematism with elements of classical music, jazz, and Bulgarian folklore, which inevitably highlights the artist’s belonging to the Bulgarian composer’s school. This is realized by the author through instrumental themes inspired by the Bulgarian song tradition and motifs decided in the spirit of Bulgarian folk ornamentation.
The conductor Borislav Yotsov skilfully led the orchestra to its interpretation concept and the deep insight into the essence of multi-layered music was manifested through the perfect synchronization in the orchestra’s music.
The soloists in the concert (Vasilena Serafimova – marimba, Velislav Stoyanov – trombone, Mihail Yosifov – trumpet and Hristo Yotsov – percussion) are Bulgarian musicians of international renown. Here I will not dwell specifically on the performances of each of them, but I want to emphasize that all four of them demonstrated perfect instrumental technique and through their extremely precise and inspired improvisations they perfectly covered the improvisational spirit in the musical thinking of the composer. The soloists fully demonstrated their ability to handle a rich timbre palette, with the entire arsenal of technical and expressive capabilities of tools to achieve the originality of the works in their performance.
The idea of launching the anniversary celebrations of the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra with premiere performances of works by a Bulgarian composer in moments of rapturous applause has become a beautiful symbol of the unity of artist, performers and audience, which gives life and a future to musical culture.