Lutoslawski, Berg, Brahms, Dohnanyi

A bit over a week ago to the SOH for Christoph von D’s second concert with the SSO.

You can tell his visit has got the orchestra excited because the box office was crowded with orchestra members picking up tickets for their friends or (if off duty) themselves.

First was Lutosławski’s Musique funebre in memoriam for Bela Bartok.  I’m afraid I have a bit of a resistance to string orchestra pieces, but even I finally was drawn in by the wall-of-string-sound shriek of the climactic Apogee movement – which reminded me of Penderecki’s (rather opportunistically-titled) Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima of about the same time.

Second up was Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs.  The concert was billed as Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling’s Australian debut, which can’t be quite correct (she’s been in Melbourne twice before).  She is an engaging singer though for me the fascination was more in the orchestral details.  This is an early work by Berg, more a summation of his precursors (and in the case of his teacher, Schoenberg, of Schoenberg’s own summatory style) than in his mature style, and as with many ‘prentice works, Berg really threw the kitchen sink at the orchestration.  I hope to listen again to it assuming it will be streamed on the web (until about 21 May it should be here).

I did catch just now the balance of the concert as broadcast on ABC “Classic” FM, being the Brahms Second Symphony.  It stood up well to my recollection of the concert, without quite making as strong an impact as the Bruckner.

The experiment with the new seating was continued. To my regret, the horns were brought in from the back corner to the middle of the orchestra and the woodwinds consequently relegated back down to their customary height.  I should have known that the flutes’ liberating elevation was too good to last.




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