Editor: Marc Bridle

 

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

 

 

                    

Google

WWW MusicWeb


Search Music Web with FreeFind




Any Review or Article


 

 

Seen and Heard Prom Review

 

Prom 56: Hindemith, Wagner, Beethoven; Deborah Voigt (sop), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Daniele Gatti (conductor); Royal Albert Hall, 27th August 2004 (AR)

 

Daniele Gatti and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra offered the Promenaders an ostensibly beautifully balanced programme of music by three diverse German composers. However, whilst the first half of the evening was truly magnificent, the second half did not live up this very high standard and fell very flat indeed. It was as if a different orchestra and conductor had been smuggled in during the interval.

 

Paul Hindemith’s underrated Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 53 is somewhat of a rarity in concert halls today. However, the strings and brass of the RPO seized the chance the work offers to show off their virtuosity. Gatti conducted with agility and attack, having total control over the orchestral dynamics and angular rhythms. The strings in particular had incredible bite and body, without that smoothed-out, homogenised texture found in some of today’s slick sounding orchestras, whilst the deliberately brittle graininess of the brass made the music sound visceral and alive.

 

Soprano Deborah Voigt’s voice was warm and serene - the ideal instrument for Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. This song cycle is more ideally suited to a smaller, more intimate space, yet her light voice was never lost in the cavernous space of the Royal Albert Hall. She projected admirably but never sacrificed the poignant intimacy of the songs; indeed, the delicate reserve of her voice made the songs even more moving.

 

In the Hot House was a case in point: her voice was radiant and penetrating yet never shrill or loud. In Dreams her voice was tranquil, with delicate, fragmented phrasing. Throughout, Gatti’s accompaniment was sensitive and perfectly balanced, totally in accord with the soloist. This was a very refined and moving performance by a singer who managed to convey the pathos of the songs and was always audible.

 

The highlight of the evening was an incandescent performance of the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Gatti’s grasp of structure and tempi were faultless and his attention to the minutest detail was quite astonishing. The orchestra was both serene and subdued, taking the music at a broad and measured pace but never allowing it to drag. Gatti slowly and gradually built up the music to its orgasmic climax without ever over-milking the emotion. Judging by Gatti’s paradigmatic performance of the Prelude he should really be conducting at the Bayreuth Festival.

 

Voigt excelled herself in the Liebestod which followed, her voice ideally suited to Isolde, expressing a youthful innocence combined with vulnerability, soaring easily above the orchestra in her ecstatic moments: she was pure bliss.

 

After such an exhilarating and inspiring first half, Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony was somewhat of an anticlimax. This was a pedestrian and bromidic performance of dumbed-down Beethoven for easy listening, totally bereft of the gravitas demanded by this revolutionary and galvanic work.

 

The Allegro con brio was lack-lustre and lightweight, devoid of drive and dynamic contrasts, with woodwind and timpani being barely audible. This may have something to do with the layout of the orchestra with divided strings and eight double basses placed along the back of the platform. The ’cellos and double bases lacked body and weight and therefore robbed the music of its expressivity, darkness and throbbing drama.

 

The Funeral March was particularly uninspired and hollow, missing any sense of drama, tension or despair and for once Gatti’s pacing was flat-footed. The all-important writing for the timpani went for nothing, with the RPO’s timpanist sounding somewhat ineffectual. (To hear how the timpani should sound, listen to Antal Dorati’s celebrated Mercury recording with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.) With the Scherzo things at last took fire with Gatti securing rhythmic bite from the violins despite the blurred and brittle playing from the horns. The Finale: Allegro molto was rather rushed, producing congested orchestral textures, with the woodwind passages especially sounding smudged. Although taken at full speed, the concluding passages were lacking in exhilaration and exaltation. This was certainly the dullest Beethoven I have heard for a long time, which is a great pity as the first half the evening had been so memorable.

 

Alex Russell

 

 

Further listening

 

Hindemith: Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50;

Guido Cantelli, New York Philharmonic Carnegie Hall 1956:  

AS Disc: AS 522

 

Wagner: Wesendonk Lieder: Kirsten Flagstad (soprano), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Hans Knappertsbusch (conductor):

Decca Legends: CD: 4684862

 

Beethoven ‘Eroica’ Symphony – Antal Dorati (conductor); Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra: Mercury Living Presence: Haydn House: HH1016 (http://www.haydnhouse.com)

 



Back to the Top     Back to the Index Page


 





   

 

 

 

MusicWeb - The International Web Site Founder: Len Mullenger [UK], Classical Editor: Rob Barnett [UK],  Regular Reviewers:   Steve Arloff [UK], Guy Aron [Australia], Tony Augarde [UK], Terry Barfoot [UK], Melinda Bargreen [USA], David J. Barker [Australia], Rob Barnett [UK], Nick Barnard [UK], Robert Beattie [UK], Dave Billinge [UK], Peter Bright [UK], Byzantion [UK], Colin Clarke [UK], Dominy Clements [Netherlands], Michael Cookson [UK], Hubert Culot [Belgium], Evan Dickerson [UK], Gavin Dixon [UK], Robert J. Farr [UK], Christopher Fifield [UK], Göran Forsling [Sweden], John France [UK], Patrick Gary [USA], Pierre Giroux [CAN], Paul C. Godfrey [UK], Michael Greenhalgh [UK], William Hedley [France], Gary Higginson [UK], Neil Horner [UK], Robert Hugill UK], David Jennings [UK], Bill Kenny [UK], William S Kreindler [USA], Ian Lace [UK], Em Marshall-Luck [UK], Oleg Ledeniov [USA]Rob Maynard [UK], David A McConnell [USA], Kirk McElhearn [France], Robert McKechnie [UK], Ralph Moore [RMo] [UK], Dan Morgan [UK], Margarida Mota-Bull [UK], Glyn Pursglove [UK], John Quinn [UK], Carla Rees [UK], Brian Reinhart [USA], Donald Satz [USA], Mark Sealey [USA], John Sheppard [UK], George Stacy, Kevin Sutton [USA], Bert Thompson [USA], Simon Thompson [UK], Zane Turner [Australia], Steve Vasta [UK], Johan van Veen [Netherlands], Raymond Walker [UK], Derek Warby [UK], Brian Wilson [UK], Jonathan Woolf [UK] Leslie Wright [USA]. A complete list of contributors can be seen here




EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Past and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

MusicWeb International thank Naxos for the no-strings use of their server to mount the website.