Franfurter Neue Presse/Taunuszeitung, 17.11.2003
A concert that will go down in history: the inspired return of a gifted female conductor
Bad Homburg: The most recent Schlosskonzert was like a music-induced trance! After not quite a year, last season's winner of the conductors' prize, Lisa Xanthopoulou, returned to give a concert... and the audience, which usually tends to be on the reserved side, lavished frenetic applause and bravos on her for her magnificent performance at the rostrum.
The program was wide-ranging, including pieces by Prokofiev, Puccini, Tchaikovsky and Haydn. It was an intense experience to observe the conductor at work on this evening, to distinguish diverse possibilities of musical expression in different stylistic areas and to meet an artist capable of bringing forth as if by magic admirable renditions by virtue of her evocative powers. Lisa Xanthopoulou opened her concert with an extremely demanding work, Prokofiev's "Visions Fugitives". These charismatic character pieces call for an orchestra with an enormous range of expression, and the members of the Heilbronn Chamber Ensemble rose to the occasion. Watching their conductor carefully, they rendered the many changes in tempo and dynamic nuances with exceptional precision and discipline. Lisa Xanthopoulou left not a single nuance to chance, leading the orchestra through its exemplary performance.
But then she went on to do something entirely different with Puccini's "Chrysanthemums". The tension-laden melodic phrases were played dashingly, resulting in a powerful build-up and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
...and then came the furious finale, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. This remarkable piece is seldom performed as stringently as it was on this occasion by Lisa Xanthopoulou, making it enthralling and yet lyrical at once. Her conducting revitalized the music, rendering it chiseled and expressive. Emphasizing the soft undulations of a popular waltz made it a success, and the fresh energy injected into the stretti of the final movement were what made this compelling concert perfect, which naturally could only be followed by one thing: the encore was the waltz! Bravo to this brilliant orchestra and to a conductor who doubtless has an exceptional career to look forward to thanks to her unusual qualities.