Fly at c.11.45am from London Heathrow to Bucharest (British Airways). Time to settle into your room before drinks and dinner.
The daily lecture is followed by a guided walk around the Kalea Victoriei and Revolution Square, passing major buildings and sites of significant moments in Romanian history. Free time until the 5.00pm recital in the Athenaeum, surely one of the loveliest concert halls in the world: Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), David Zobel (piano), works by Mozart, Rossini and Berlioz. After a quick supper, 8.00pm concert at the Grand Palace Hall (where all the evening concerts take place): London Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda (conductor), Denis Matsuev (piano): Rimsky-Korsakov, ‘Kitezh’ prelude; Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16; Shostakovich, Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54.
The Village Museum is a famous and fascinating assembly of traditional Romanian buildings and crafts. Lunch is included here. Muzeul Georg Enescu, a small music museum, is housed in the Cantacuzino Palace, home of an early 20th-century prime minister. Evening concert with London Symphony Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda (conductor), Radio Academic Choir, Diana Damrau (soprano), Cosmin Ifrim (tenor): Enescu, ‘Vox Maris’ symphonic poem, Op. 31; Iain Bell, ‘The Hidden Place’; R. Strauss, final scene of ‘Capriccio’; Britten, ‘Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia’ from ‘Peter Grimes’.
Art and artefacts, particularly Byzantine-style paintings and textiles, are excellently displayed in the Gallery of Old Romanian Art. To continue the theme, the Museum of Collections is recommended for the afternoon. Evening opera (concert performance) Die Frau Ohne Schatten (R. Strauss) with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor), Torsten Kerl (the Emperor), Anne Schwanewilms (the Empress), Thomas Mayer (Barak, the Dyer), Ricarda Merbeth (the Dyer’s Wife).
Apart from the daily lecture, the day is free. There is yet much to see, but highly recommended is the Gallery of European Art, particularly strong on Italian, Spanish and Netherlandish Old Masters and French Impressionists. The Muzeul Theodor Aman should not be missed. Afternoon concert in the Athenaeum with Orchestre Pelléas, Benjamin Levy (conductor), Tasmin Little (violin): Debussy, ‘Sarabande’; Enescu, Violin Sonata No. 3 (arr. for orchestra); Ravel, ‘Tzigane’; Chabrier, ‘Bourrée Fantasque’; Bizet, Symphony in C. Break for dinner. Evening concert with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor), Julia Fischer (violin): Britten, Violin Concerto, Op. 15; Enescu, Symphony No. 3 in C, Op. 21.
A second guided walk, this time around the more southerly part of the historic centre, scheduled to be totally erased by Ceaușescu. Several Byzantine-style churches are seen. A visit to the History Museum is suggested for the afternoon. Evening concert with the Orchestre National de France, Emmanuel Krivine (conductor), Evegny Kissin (piano): Liszt, ‘Mazeppa’ symphonic poem, Piano Concerto No. 2 in A; Mussorgsky/Ravel, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’.
Morning recital in the Small Palace Hall with Charles Richard Hamelin (piano): Debussy, ‘Images Oubliées’; Rachmaninov, Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3; Enescu, Piano Suite No. 1 in G minor, Op. 3; Prokofiev, Piano Sonata No. 4 in C minor, Op. 29. Monstrous in conception, ghastly in design but stunningly, hilariously and creepily magnificent, the Ceaușescu-built Palace of Parliament has to be seen, sadly. (Please note interior visits can only be confirmed one week in advance). Fly from Bucharest to London Heathrow, arriving c. 8.55pm.
Dr John Allison
Editor of Opera magazine and music critic for The Daily Telegraph. He was born in South Africa and completed his PhD degree while playing the piano and working as assistant organist at Cape Town cathedral. Since moving to London in 1989 he has written for publications around the world, authored two books, contributed chapters to several other volumes and served on the juries of many international competitions. He has also held positions as music critic on The Sunday Telegraph and the Times.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £2,830 or £2,520 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,190 or £2,880 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus 320); travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 2 lunches and 4 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Tickets (top category) for 8 performances are included, costing c. £360.
Athenee Palace Hilton, Bucharest: 5-star hotel with excellent service and facilities, 5 minutes’ walk from the concert venues.
A good level of fitness is necessary. It should not be attempted by anyone who has difficulty with everyday walking and stair-climbing. Average distance by coach per day: 4 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.