Serbian premiere of Walton’s “Façade” with Belgrade Philharmonic

Serbian premier of William Walton’s Façade opened the chamber music series Pandemonium at the Belgrade Philharmonic Hall in September 2017. Branislava Podrumac as solist joined the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Bruno Merse, to reveal to the audience what hides behind the Façade, a piece based on provocative verses of the poet Edith Sitwell.

photo: Marko Đoković

The composer and the poet together developed the idea for an entertaining piece titled Façade, in which poems are recited over an instrumental accompaniment. The combination of jazz, waltz, tango with the poetry on the brink of sense and scandal creates a distinctive musical humour, which transformed the BPO Hall into a cabaret.

In the role of the narrator, soprano Branislava Podrumac demonstrated what singing without actually singing sounds like and, in addition to musical skills, she showcased her remarkable acting adroitness.

“The poems of Edith Sitwell don’t make much sense, because her primary intention was to make the text fit the rhythm and music played by the orchestra. The narrative part, therefore, cannot be performed by an actor; it has to be a trained musician who understands music and knows how to read it. To include such an avant-garde, yet entertaining piece in the programme is shifting the musical boundaries”, said Branislava Podrumac.

The creation of the Façade was more a social entertainment event for Walton and Sitwell than a serious business. This resulted in sprightly and lucid music.