This was the second Diana Damrau London visit in two weeks, this time to sing Strauss Four Last Songs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Antonio Pappano. But before that we got an interesting performance of Elgar Alassio. Even if the work is supposed to be Italy inspired it doesn’t really sound Italian. However it is an interesting musical piece showing Elgar mastery on orchestral color. Pappano remarked the work lightness which fit well as a prelude to Strauss music.
There were many special things in this concert. The programme included the two main work for clarinet quintet: those by Mozart and Brahms. It was not the usual established string quartet joined by an external clarinetist but all were “external” and friends joining for this concert. There were also two additional short pieces added the to announced programme. But they were not given as encores but as prefaces to the two main works.
This review is easy: Benjamin Appl has one of the most beautiful baritone voices I have listened to in the recent years. He is charming and expressive and does a very intelligent singing. And the superb Graham Johnson is one of the top references as lieder pianist from the previous generation. So yes, they made it pretty well. With a programme focused on lieder with oriental themes, without no applause until the intermission it was risky to sing all these songs, with different moods all together almost without interruption.
I had this concert in my mind as “2nd Haitink gig”, “the other cool Brahms symphony I have not heard live this year yet” and “another fancy violinist doing Mendelssohn”. I hadn’t, however, though at all about the Thomas Adès that was opening the concert: Three Studies from Couperin. And it ended up being the most interesting part of the concert. The work is beautiful and perfectly showcased every good aspect about the London Symphony Orchestra.
Another great music night with the London Symphony Orchestra. The programme was very classic and the only novelty was doing the symphony in the first part and the concerto in the second one. The Brahms was what we expected: control and crystal-clear exposition. The whole was over the parts and every single modulation had a clear path in the whole picture of this 3rd symphony performance. No crazy rubato neither HIP-influenced dynamics.
Second night of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras in this year Proms. This time, totally Viennese repertoire. Concert opened with Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn that BBC called “Variations on the St Anthony Chorale” because they are very smart and follow all the musicological criteria, not that they are snobs, not at all. Perfect performance, with a superb Michael Tilson Thomas emphasizing the more expressive and joyful parts of the score as a perfect introduction for it was coming next.
Debut in the Proms of Filarmonica della Scala orchestra. What? First time of Scala orchestra in London? No and yes. The trick is that in 1982 Claudio Abbado created a new orchestra formed with members of Teatro alla Scala orchestra to focus on symphonic repertoire. And we got the best of these two faces of the orchestra: an opera orchestra who follows the singers and a full symphonic orchestra telling the full story.