Dresden Festival 2 : Dresden Remembers its Strong Associations with Wagner

24/05/2013

Dresden Music Festival 2013 logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Wagner, Henze: Jonas Kaufman (tenor), Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann, Semper Oper, Dresden, Germany, Tuesday 21.5. 2013. (MC)

Richard Wagner:
Overture The Flying Dutchman,
A Faust Overture (Fassung 1855),
Rienzi’s Prayer ‘Almighty Father‘ from Rienzi,
Overture to Rienzi,
Prelude to Lohengrin,
Grail narration from Lohengrin ‘In a far off land‘ (original version)
Hans Werner Henze: Fraternité, air pour l’orchestre (1999)
Richard Wagner: Rome narration from Tannhauser ‘With such devotion‘
Entrance of the guests at the Wartburg from Tannhauser ‘Joyfully we hail the noble hall’

Christian Thielemann, photo Matthias Creutziger

Christian Thielemann, photo Matthias Creutziger

On the eve of the bicentennial of Wagner’s birth Christian Thielemann conducted the Staatskapelle Dresden in a programme of Wagner overtures and great tenor opera scenes. How wonderfully appropriate it was for the Staatskapelle to play these Wagner scores all premièred either in whole or part by this orchestra in Dresden where the composer resided and made his name. For the vast majority of those present I should think it was heartthrob tenor Jonas Kauffmann who was the main attraction. So with Kaufmann singing Wagner the audience had the best of both worlds.

Incisive and direct, as soon as music director Christian Thielemann commenced the overture to The Flying Dutchman, the weight of orchestral sound was astonishing almost forcing this listener back into his seat. It was soon evident that a world class orchestra was playing as clearly as Wagner could depict in music a storm at sea. The sense of drama and a substantial degree of fear was present with the music ending in a beautiful calm. Equally exceptional was the revised version of the Faust concert overture with a mood that varied between disquiet and anticipation. In the Rienzi overture the orchestral weight behind the memorable main melody was a stunning experience and in the Lohengrin prelude the opening on the high strings contained a celestial glow. Exquisitely pairs of horns, bassoons and clarinets opened the Tannhauser overture with Thielemann ratcheting up the tension, creating the perfect blend of assurance and sheer drama. Gloriously unified with a luscious timbre there was an object lesson in horn playing; an instrument so difficult to master.

The only non-Wagner work on the programme was Hans Werner Henze’s Fraternité for large orchestra that the composer described as an ‘air’. I guess that the composer’s death in October 2012 was the reason for altering the planned performance of the orchestral score Isolde’s Tod. I’m glad I had the opportunity of hearing Fraternité played by such a wonderful orchestra. Taking around twelve minutes to perform this is a bold work with writing as dense as a Richard Strauss tone poem, and with little in the way of dissonance, and easily accessible. Creating a sense of dark menace I loved the trombone part with the timpani and the relative peace created by the cor anglais solo was only short-lived as the threatening mood returned with a vengeance.

Jonas Kaufmann, photo Dietmar Scholz

Jonas Kaufmann, photo Dietmar Scholz

Never one to hang about taking curtain calls as soon as Thielemann left the stage after the Faust overture he returned immediately with Kaufmann to burst headlong into Rienzi’s Prayer. With passion and poise Kaufmann sang Allmächt’ger Vater (Almighty Father!) a heartfelt proclamation of Rienzi’s confidence in the Roman people. In the Gralserzählung (Grail narration) from Lohengrin, In fernem land (In a far off land) the dramatic tenor was, with evident ease, able to supply full meaning to the text. Kaufmann’s final aria was Romerzählung (Rome narration) from Act 3 of Tannhauser, Inbrunst im Herzen (With such devotion) with its striking brass laden climaxes. Looking strangely boyish in demeanor Kaufmann sang with real intensity, modulating confidently through his range, revealing his dark lower register and a deceptive power. Noticeable was the refined quality of the Bavarian tenor’s diction together with a riveting delivery of the text. Such was the elevated quality of both singing and orchestral playing I couldn’t help wondering if these tenor scenes have ever been performed better. I expected Kaufmann to provide his enthralled audience with an encore but time didn’t allow. It turned out that immediately after the concert both he and Maestro Thielemann had an arranged spot on a live television broadcast from the Theaterplatz just outside the opera house.

Listed in the programme was a pre-arranged encore Einzug der Gäste auf Wartburg (Entrance of the guests at the Wartburg) from Tannhauser Freudig begrüßen wir die edle Halle (Joyfully we hail the noble hall). For this three trumpeters decamped to one of the forward-most boxes for the opening fanfare and the men and women of the Staatsopernchor Dresden were divided on each side of the side gangway of the stalls. Adding variety to the programme this beautifully sung and performed score had a most uplifting effect providing a highly satisfactory conclusion to a wonderful evening at the Semper Oper.

Michael Cookson

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Loki’s Madam Butterfly can be seen in Alton and London this September __________________________________
  • NEW! The Joys of the Marlboro Music Festival: Chamber Music’s Best-Kept Secret __________________________________
  • NEW! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • NEW! CELLIST JOHANNES MOSER IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month