Mozart’s Requiem Fails to Come Alight  

19/08/2015

      eif-2015-115  

 

 

Edinburgh International Festival 2015 (12) – Mozart: Miah  Persson (sop), Barbara Kozelj (mezzo), Jeremy Ovendon (tenor), Konstantin Wolff (bass), Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer (conductor), Usher Hall, 18.08.2015 (SRT)

Mozart:  Symphony No. 38, “Prague”
Requiem

This was the first event in this year’s EIF to sell out, and who could be surprised, with popular repertoire and great artists to perform it?  But in the event there was very little sense of occasion, and precious little spark either.

I liked the way Fischer arranged his forces in the Requiem, placing the soloists (separately) in the midst of the orchestra, and putting the basset horns and bassoons at front centre.  The prominence of their oily sound was one of the best things about the orchestral sonority, as was the outstanding trombone solo in the Tuba Mirum.  Fischer seemed oddly disengaged throughout the performance, however, (he was limping visibly: I wonder if he has been distracted by injury?) and he didn’t seem able to galvanise the Festival Chorus, who sounded terribly unwieldy in the Introitus; effortful with some imprecise entries, and an awfully breathy sound which lacked focus, something which was to become a particular problem in the fugue of the Offertorio.

Things improved in the Sequenza, whose faster tempi seemed to give a spark to the chorus, and there was an engaging warmth to the Hostias; but they were firing far below their best.  Nor did Fischer generate much podium excitement.  For bizarre reasons best known to himself, he insisted on lengthy pauses between each big section, which torpedoed the structural flow, and he seemed unwilling ever to generate a proper sense of climax or of homecoming, with surprisingly quiet finales to the outer movements, and even a pale Amen to end the Lachrymosa, the very embodiment of anti-climax.  If that was a conscious interpretative decision then it was wrong-headed.

Miah Persson’s aristocratic soprano came off best from the soloists, though I also admired the fearless attack of Jeremy Ovendon’s gleaming tenor.  Both were preferable to the melodrama of Barbara Kozelj.  Konstantin Wolff warmed up eventually, but the bottom of his register was almost entirely lost.

The Prague Symphony promised a lot with its momentous introduction which managed to be both monumental and supple, with a sense that this music really could go anywhere.  However, that very monumentality weighed down the ensuing Allegro, much as I liked the occasional flecks of unexpected legato.  Conversely, the Andante wasn’t hanging around, and came across as rather too workmanlike in its semiquaver passages, albeit with pleasingly sweet tone.  The only fully satisfying movement was the finale, which was taken at a relatively safe tempo but built up a head of steam as it developed, and raged satisfyingly at the onset of the development.  Nevertheless, this evening felt like a lost opportunity: all the stars were in line, but not much actually happened.

The concert was recorded for BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast after the end of the Proms season.

 

The 2015 Edinburgh International Festival runs until Monday 31st August at venues across the city.  For full details go to www.eif.co.uk

Simon Thompson

 

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2018 Season Begins Soon __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018/19 Birmingham Classical Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe Star in The King and I at the London Palladium __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Abandoned Liszt Opera Sardanapalo Premieres in Weimar in August __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! MARKUS POSCHNER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month