Thursday 28 June 2012

Climb every mountain

Tuesday was a big night for London’s classical music scene, with Colin Davis conducting the LSO in Berlioz over in St Paul’s, and the second of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra’s London concerts packing out the Royal Festival Hall. Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie is one of Trill’s favourites and the SBSO, under conducting megastar Gustavo Dudamel, certainly hit their stride on the way down the mountain. It might be a while, though, before they’ve got the full measure of Strauss’s idiom. Here’s an extract from my review for Classical Source:

“It’s a work that revels in the heady excess of depicting mountain scenery – weather and all – with an orchestra groaning at the limits of practicality. But it also charts a clear path through the fog and ice and thunder encountered en route, giving us some of Strauss’s most brilliantly vivid descriptive writing. Night shrouds the introduction and returns to veil the close, but it wasn’t the most auspicious of beginnings for orchestra and conductor. Strauss piles up the notes in the string parts, creating the kind of effect you’d get by depressing three octaves worth of notes on the piano and holding the sustain pedal. But that glorious curtain of nocturnal gloom barely registered, despite the plethora of violins crammed in tight on stage.”

It got better after that, but I still can’t wait to see what the Vienna Phil and Bernard Haitink can muster when they tackle it at this year’s Proms. Whatever the VPO brings, though, I bet they won't haul Bryn Terfel on stage for an unexpected encore. Intermezzo has the photographic evidence.

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