Berlin Philharmonic crafts a symphonic masterpiece with piano obbligato


By Christopher McLeod

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic)

Philharmonie (Berlin, Germany), August 24.

The Berlin Philharmonic open their 2012/2013 season with a burst of lyrical mastery. Under the baton of chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle the orchestra rose to new heights of expression and musicality.

Tonight’s concert began with the solo sound of principal horn Stefan Dohr. The enticing sound that reverberated around the horn play is arguably one of the best interpretations this reviewer has heard. This could only be the masterful writing of Brahms. And this it was. His second piano concerto composed in 1881 to be exact.

From this opening soliloquy was the interpretive opening statement by soloist Yefim Bronfman. His playing was nothing less than brilliant throughout the entire performance. He brought a level of expression to the piece that is rarely heard. It is not often that a soloist will make a part truly speak. But, audiences were treated to that experience tonight.

“Music has the ability to awaken our senses, to raise us higher than our normal plain of existence.”

Under the baton of chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle the orchestra rose to new heights of expression and musicality. Their playing during the concerto spoke of a single entity. The orchestra moved as one as they transmitted an energy, a life-force from halfway across the globe. Nothing short of brilliant seeming I was watching the performance via the digital concert hall. At 3:00am in the morning eastern standard time in Australia I might add.

No sooner had I fallen into the lull of this is as good as it gets, that I was proven wrong. The opening cello duet in the third movement was truly elysium for the heart and soul. Not only did it remind me of why I love the Cello, but that this is what music can do. Music has the ability to awaken our senses, to raise us higher than our normal plain of existence.

The final movement was technically brilliant. Astounding articulate and clear, it was what a fast movement should sound like. The soloist and orchestra made it sound easy. And as the concerto came to an end, a lone voice cried out “bravo”. The audience erupting into adoration and applause.

“The strange discord of the opening measures created a brilliant soundscape.”

After interval the audience were treated to the third symphony of Witold Lutoslawski. The work was originally premiered by the Chicago symphony orchestra in 1983.

The strange discord of the opening measures created a brilliant soundscape. Modern orchestral music is often in the realm of the alien. This is especially so when compared to the earlier ‘classics’.

But, the orchestra performed well. They crafted each individual part, giving it its own distinct voicing. The expression was rich a tempestuous montage of sound, leaving the listener hungry for more.

Moments of tension and sudden explosions of sound left goosebumps down my spine. Having never previously heard the work, I had no idea what to expect. What I did hear challenged my opinion of what modern orchestral music is and can do.

Yet, it is the stark contrast between the two works tonight that showed what the orchestra is truly capable. There is a reason that the Berlin Philharmonic is considered to be one of the best orchestras in the world. And tonight or early this morning depending where you watched the concert from, the orchestra showcased this fact.

The orchestra’s versatility left me and I’m sure the rest of the audience hungry for more. If the orchestra is capable of these feats so early on, then their 2012/2013 season is going to redefine live orchestral performance.

Check the Berlin Philharmonic out at the digital concert hall.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic)

Philharmonie (Berlin, Germany), August 24.

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