A Vibrant Sound of Glowing Intensity from Young German Musicians

14/09/2016

BFS_MFB16_Plakat_A1_RZ_path.indd

Musikfest Berlin 2016 [3]Matineekonzert.  Varèse, Ligeti, Beethoven: Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Junge Deutsche Philharmonie/Jonathan Nott (conductor), Philharmonie, Berlin, 11.9.2016. (MC)

Junge Deutsche Philharmonie

Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (c) Achim Reissner

  

Varèse: Déserts

Ligeti: Violin Concerto 

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’

An enthralling programme, a mix of challenging 20th century works and a repertoire staple, is typical of what I have come to expect from Musikfest Berlin.

Established in 1974 and based in Frankfurt am Main the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie is comprised of players from German language music academies. Taking the baton was Jonathan Nott who from 2014 has served as its principal conductor and artistic advisor. I know a few concert goers who avoid youth orchestras but from my experience they face missing out on frequently excellent music making as was clearly the case with this Sunday Matineekonzert at the Philharmonie.

Written in the early 1950s whilst he was living in the United States Varèse’s Déserts is scored for 20 players comprising of 10 brass, 4 woodwind, 1 piano and 5 percussion. The addition of electronic tape to the score felt like a mix of mainly industrial, urban street and underwater sounds. Lasting around 25 minutes the revised score from 1960/61 feels fresh and virile generating a cool, razor sharp sound world including an abundance of cacophonous outbursts.

Jonathan Nott knows his Ligeti well having recorded a number of the composer’s scores with the Berliner Philharmoniker for Teldec. Here Nott was joined by soloist Pekka Kuusisto for the Transylvanian born composer’s Violin Concerto a work far more accessible than one might imagine.

Using the 5 movement 1992 revision Nott’s chamber sized orchestra employed 11 strings, 9 wind and 4 percussionists with Pekka Kuusisto as violin soloist. Beautifully written the score contains its fair share of dramatic turbulence and agitation contrasted with episodes of tender emotion including the song-like passage of the second movement Aria. Enthusiastic and full of personality Kuusisto displayed his prowess with a resolute performance revealing the huge palette of colour in his armoury.

The main work of the concert, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 Eroica’, is music of considerable concentration and, as the designation suggests, heroic power. Beethoven originally dedicated this progressive score to Napoleon Bonaparte before tearing up the page and replacing it with the title ‘Eroica’. A warhorse of the repertory frequently performed in the concert hall, over the years I have attended numerous performances of this masterwork. For all the wrong reasons I particularly remember a 2011 Munich performance of the ‘Eroica’ by the touring New York Philharmonic that felt as if this renowned orchestra had slipped into holiday-mode – such was its jaded and uninspired playing. Under the baton of Nott, a stylish conductor of real integrity, no lacklustre performance was allowed to happen with his splendid youth orchestra. In the opening movement, containing an abundance of contrasting calm and storm, Nott provided a clean precise attack with ample buoyancy which felt so appropriate. The serious tread of the persuasively performed Marche funèbre felt more than an expression of grief. In between the slow sections Nott broadened the dynamics daringly and the results were stunning. Sparkling and energetic with actively sprung rhythms the compelling playing of the Scherzo was enough to excite even the most jaded disposition. In the Finale there was plenty of rhythmic vitality which left a satisfying sense of drama. Overall this was not a performance of the ‘Eroica’ that could be described as thunderous, of blood and guts. Nott and his young players convincingly provided a vibrant sound of glowing intensity – and how refreshing it all felt!

Michael Cookson

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Clara Schumann Festival at St John’s Smith Square – 22 to 24 February 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2018/19 and the New Free Tickets Scheme __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW! Grieg Grainger Piano Rolls: an Equivocation __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! SOME OF SEEN AND HEARD’S REVIEWERS LOOK BACK AT 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! BARITONE SIMON MECHLIŃSKI IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ELIM CHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Iain Farrington’s Mahler Piano Series was an Extraordinary Marathon __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR ALEXANDER SLADKOVSKY IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month