Selfless Playing of High Integrity from Bavarian Radio Orchestra

02/04/2015

  Antonín Dvořák:  Erin Wall (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo), Christian Elsner (tenor), Liang Li (bass), Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks / Mariss Jansons (conductor), Herkulessaal, Munich, 24.3.2015. (MC)

Mariss Jansons, © photo George Thum

Mariss Jansons © George Thum

Dvořák: ‘Stabat mater’ for soloists, choir and orchestra, Op. 58 (1876/77)

 

Each season I attend a couple of concerts by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, all have been under its great chief conductor Mariss Jansons. Whilst remaining fascinated by the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker, an orchestra that I also strive hard to see perform, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks holds a special attraction for me with its remarkable individual sound of precision, power and expression. Performed in the wonderful acoustic of the Herkulessaal, Munich the Dvořák Stabat mater more than lived up to its promise as Maestro Jansons and his soloists, Bavarian choral and orchestral forces made a splendid case for this inexplicably neglected score.

Tragedy had hit Dvořák hard with the death of his two day old daughter Josefa in 1875, and the next year his two surviving children, Ružena and Otakar, died from poisoning and smallpox respectively. In view of his severe personal torments it comes as no surprise that Dvořák looked to the consolation of the Stabat mater, the thirteenth century hymn to the suffering of Mary at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ her son. Dvořák’s setting of the Stabat mater for four soloists, chorus and orchestra is divided into ten sections, the first four being grave in mood,. Sections five to eight deal with consolation and the final two sections (nine and ten) return to the solemnity of the opening. Successfully premiered at Prague under Adolf Čech in 1880, the acclaim of the 1883 London premiere resulted in Dvořák being invited to London to conduct a performance at the Albert Hall given by an orchestra of one-hundred and fifty players and a nine-hundred strong chorus.

 As I have come to expect from Maestro Jansons, his strongly cast quartet of international soloists and Bavarian chorus were flawlessly prepared. Fully understanding the subtlety of the Latin setting the eloquently blended singing radiated a considerable depth of sacred inspiration. Canadian soprano Erin Wall in her duet with tenor ‘Fac, ut portem Christi mortem’ had steadied from some early wavering in the opening quartets allowing her to convey with her bright fluid tone a credible sense of consolation. By far the most authoritative voice was that of outstanding German tenor Christian Elsner giving a rock solid performance of irrefutable piety. A highlight was Elsner’s solo ‘Fac, ut portem Christi mortem’, the epitome of vocal clarity, effortless delivery and persuasive sacred expression.

 Giving a respectable enough performance was Japanese mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura. Singing a touch flat on occasions Fujimura’s solo ‘Inflammatus et accensus’ was slightly unsteady revealing a vibrato that , although considerable, didn’t intrude too much. A dark resonant bass Liang Li from China, although a touch uneven, portrayed the seriousness of the text. Creating an almost sinister mood his solo ‘Fac, ut ardeat cor meum’ was rendered with a suitable depth of gravity.

 Under the firm direction and persuasive pacing of Mariss Jansons there are not enough superlatives to describe the responsive performance of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks who provided selfless playing of such high integrity. A special mention is owed to the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks in quite radiant form, being expressively secure and devoutly fervent throughout this magnificent Dvořák setting. Virtually all the concerts of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks are recorded for broadcast and I look forward to this performance of the ‘Stabat mater’ becoming available soon on the BR-Klassik label.

Michael Cookson

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! City Music Foundation July 2019 Summer Residency at The Wallace Collection __________________________________
  • 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! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • 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! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • 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