Friday, 29 July 2016

Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony 9 d-minor - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielhaus

Performance 25th July

In tribute to the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the great Austrian musician, his orchestra, the Concentus Musicus, played the final Beethoven symphony under the baton of Andrés Orozco-Estrada who was chosen to take over the performance after Harnoncourt's death in March 2016. Before the concert the president of the festival, Helga Rabl-Stadler, came onstage and said a few very touching words about Harnoncourt and the performance.
Orozco-Estrada had the honour to learn a lot of Harnoncourt and I have to say that he seemed to use all these things during the performance. I had the feeling that a lot of Harnoncourt's ideas and his was of conducting were flowing into the performance through the lead of Orozco-Estrada. He had full control over the orchestra and with great energy he managed to create a great interpretation with explosive energy and very delicate phrasing. Especially during the second movement with the edgy contrast between wild and soft parts he was able to show his skills.
The Concentus Musicus, undoubtly one of the leading ensembles with original instruments, followed his instructions marvelously and played so vividly that the audience was simply blown away by the sheer energy and the excitement of the performance. Except of some issues with the old brass instruments, which are not as reliable as the modern ones, the accuracy of the orchestra was impressive and showed the high level of professionalism.
Also the Arnold Schönberg Chor was a serendipity with great singing and balance between the different voices. As probably one of the best choirs in Austria it managed the difficulties of the piece without any problems and gave a more than solid performance.
The soloist quartett featured Regula Mühlemann jumping in for Genia Kühmeier who was ill. Mühlemann surprised with a very beautiful strong voice that convinced with great flexibility and an effortless top register. She managed her rather difficult part with grace and lovely phrasing.
Elisabeth Kulman sang the alto part with great finesse and her marvelous mezzo voice. Her timbre is warm, sonorous and convinces with a very beautiful sound. Especially her lower register has an beguiling timbre and quite some power.
The tenor part was sung by Steve Davislim who did a very good job with his balanced but strong voice. His tenor has both a youthful timbre and a heroic sound and he managed the part without any problems. Especially the march-like tenor solo in the final movement succeded wonderfully with great passion and drive.
The fourth solo part was sung by Florian Boesch with a baritone voice that has a very cultivated timbre. Sometimes he seemed to be a bit uncomfortable with the very top parts of the role, but he still managed it appropriately.
Alltogether it was a very energetic performance with great drive and most diverting. Without doubt it earns 9 stars.
 Reviewed by Daniel Url

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