Thursday 29 June 2017
Holland Festival Proms
Heard: 24 June, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
This year’s crowning glory was the performance by Lucas and Arthur Jussen of Mantra, Stockhausen’s megalomaniac work for two pianos, live electronics and small-scale percussion instruments played by the pianists themselves. From the moment they appeared on stage in translucent mesh suits (shirt-free), the brothers grabbed the audience by the scruff their necks and then proceeded to hold their attention, in the utmost concentration, for 70 minutes. Their perfect timing in the rapid passages was extremely impressive. Virtuoso piano riffs and rolling salvos on woodblock and crotals intermeshed flawlessly, like the parts of some precise musical mechanism.
Special mention should be made of their interpretation of the outrageously difficult toccata passage towards the end. With meticulously placed accents, the Jussens convincingly succeeded in conjuring up a melodic dialogue from the unending cascades of notes.
The slower sections were imbued with an emphasis on nuanced tonal colours, emanating both from the brothers’ touch and their subtle use of the live electronics. And another key feature: their unmistakable theatrical talent, evident for instance in their ballsy battle over a thunderous chord, flying to and fro until brought to a halt by a playfully raised middle finger.
Let’s hope the brothers bring a lot more contemporary repertoire to their audiences in the future.
Joep Christenhusz / NRC, 27-6-2017