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Daniel Harding conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in an enlightening live performance – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Germany Unsuk Chin, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams: Andrew Staples (tenor), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Daniel Harding (conductor). Livestreamed on Digital Live performance Corridor from the Philharmonie Berlin, 15.10.2022. (GT)

Daniel Harding conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Unsuk ChinRocaná (1980)

Vaughan WilliamsOn Wenlock Edge

Richard StraussAdditionally sprach Zarathustra, Op.30

Composed for large orchestra, together with Japanese temple bells, Javanese gongs, marimbas, dobachi, cencerros, glass wind chimes, a lithophone, a maracas and different devices, the Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s piece is a piece of colors and interesting harmonies. The title Rocaná is from the Sanskrit phrases for a ‘room of sunshine’. In response to the composer, the title doesn’t have any particular spiritual or mythological which means. As a substitute, it refers back to the character of the work in addition to to the compositional methods employed.

Unsuk Chin said that she has ‘a sure aversion to the soundworld produced by conventional symphony orchestras rooted in nineteenth-century aesthetics, and I really feel quite a lot of affinity for non-European musical cultures. That’s the reason I at all times attempt to introduce a totally totally different color into my compositions primarily based on my expertise of non-European music.’

The percussion has a particular function from the very starting of Rocaná with the fluttering rhythms interrupted by bursts of thrilling sound from the harp, trumpets, trombones and tubular bells that at occasions invoked animals scurrying within the darkness, and graphically low sounds whereas all of a sudden the brass proclaimed a disturbing thought in opposition to lengthy slides on the violins. This was heard by invoking an virtually celestial soundscape with rhythmic stress ascending to richly harmonised pitches of sound earlier than lastly plunging into silence. It was pretty on the finish to see the nonetheless youthful composer climbing over the barrier to hitch the orchestra on stage and settle for the reception from the appreciative viewers.

Within the week once we celebrated the a hundred and fiftieth delivery anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams, it was welcoming that this world class orchestra ought to play a chunk (On Wenlock Edge) by this nice English composer, but disappointing that it was not certainly one of his 9 symphonies. All through this efficiency of the composer’s settings to A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, the superbly wealthy harmonies abounded beneath Daniel Harding’s route with occasional hints of Ravelian impressionism adorning the efficiency. The tenor of Andrew Staples proved virtually heroic in his singing of On Wenlock Edge with thrilling woodwind enjoying from the flute of Jelka Weber, creating waves of rhapsodic sound; From Far, from Eve and Morning was finely sung; whereas Is My Group Ploughing, the horns created an virtually menacing idiom; within the charming Oh, Once I Was in Love with You there was some idyllic string enjoying, as soon as once more the flutes have been excellent; and within the ultimate Clun, a deeply mourning idiom emerged handsomely carried out by the orchestra. The one different piece by Vaughan Williams on the Digital Live performance Corridor archive is the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Judging from the evident pleasure by the musicians enjoying this music, hopefully it is not going to be too lengthy earlier than extra of his music is heard in Berlin.

In his pre-concert interview, Harding mentioned of Additionally Sprach Zarathustra, ‘is there a piece the place the primary minute is so well-known but nothing is thought of the opposite 33 minutes?’ He mirrored that the writing was ‘extremely graphic, and really effectively thought out’ and there gave the impression to be ‘a despair or doubt which comes afterwards.’ The ‘Daybreak’ of Richard Strauss’s Additionally Sprach Zarathustra opened on an excellent fortissimo with the theme of nature invoked by the bassoons fashioning a darkly mysterious idiom in ‘Of the Backworldsmen’, which was enhanced by the low strings introducing a noble theme of nice heat and feeling. The part ‘Of Nice Longing’ was opulently carried out by the strings, with notable inflection from the cor anglais of Dominik Wollenweber, and the fantastic brass in highlighting ‘Of Joys and Passions’. Rubato was utilized by the conductor in his summoning of gloriously lovely sound imagery earlier than quelling it for ‘The Music of the Grave’. There was world class virtuosity from Jonathan Kelly on the oboe and Wollenweber’s cor anglais.

Within the fanciful passage ‘Of Science and Studying’, the fugue was performed persuasively by the double basses earlier than swiftly shifting to ‘The Convalescent’ with a motif expressed by Jesper Busk Sørensen’s trombone (on two diminished fifths) as if conflicting with the fun of life. I favored the great anticipation in ‘The Dance Music’ from the sensible woodwind, xylophone and the strings earlier than the Viennese waltz was launched in a good looking violin passage by Krzysztof Polonek heralding the richly luxuriant strings. Within the coda of ‘Music of the Night time Wanderer’ the bell tolling supplemented by the richly textured string enjoying descended into an idyllic idiom earlier than dying away with out resolve. On this event, Harding made sure that in addition to the opening bars, his viewers had a lot to get pleasure from from the fullness of Strauss’s masterpiece.

Gregor Tassie



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