From the Ganges to the Danube
On the evening of Saturday 4 November at Cadogan Hall, Classic FM’s John Suchet hosted our ground breaking concert, Strauss Reflected, which celebrated the lives and works of the Strauss musical dynasty through storytelling and glorious Indian and Western classical music with Meeta Pandit and Sinfonia Verdi. As John himself explained, the audience, “[heard] nothing like it before” and they were”mesmerised” and “captivated” “by the performances” and the “unique evening”.
The engaging John Suchet, the author of The Last Waltz: The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna, hosted a night dedicated to the Strauss masters full of surprises. In an evening of light and shade, the dynasty who popularised Viennese waltzes, polkas and marches had in fact very tumultuous lives with many rivalries and tensions amongst the family. Intriguing for example, is the tale of Eduard Strauss, the youngest of the Strauss sons who was a brilliant conductor and master of the Polka, composer of the joyful, Elektrisch Polka. He in fact as John explained, was intensely jealous of his two brothers and after they died burnt thousands of their manuscripts.
The concert broke down barriers between Western and Indian classical music. David Murphy, Ravi Shankar’s long-time collaborator and conductor of the Indian music legend’s Sukanya opera, was at the helm. David conducted his orchestra, Sinfonia Verdi who performed pieces such as The Blue Danube, Overture Die Fledermaus and Sphärenklänge. Whilst vocalist Meeta Pandit reflected her own interpretations of the works and the experiences of the Strauss family in a Hindustani Classical style, accompanied with some orchestral backing. These became most striking as Meeta interpreted The Blue Danube, stating: “What Danube is to Europe, the Ganges is to India. We worship the river. Dedicated to the Ganges, is the musical praise set to Raga Hamsadhwani.”
East and West were united with the full orchestra Sinfonia Verdi and Meeta Pandit in a rousing encore of Radetzky March with an Indian twist which was met by a standing ovation.