BSO’s Glittering Johann Strauss Gala Brightens New Year’s Day

02/01/2019

Johann Strauss I & II, Josef Strauss, Lehár, Nicolai, Heuberger: Fflur Wyn (soprano), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Thomas Rösner (conductor), The Lighthouse, Poole 1.1.2019. (IL)

Thomas Rösner in rehearsal with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for their New Year Johann Strauss Gala concerts

Thomas Rösner in rehearsal with the BSO
for their New Year Johann Strauss Gala concerts

Johann Strauss I – Sigh Gallop, The Radetzky March (encore)
Johann Strauss II – Waltz, An Artist’s Life; Adèle’s ‘Laughing Song’ (Die Fledermaus), Tik-Tak Polka; Overture, A Night in Venice; Csárdás (Knight Pazman); Bandit’s Gallop; Waltz, On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Thunder and Lightning Polka (encore)
Josef Strauss Music of the Spheres Waltz; A Woman’s Heart Polka
Franz Lehár Someone Will Come’ (The Tsarevich); ‘Viljalied’ (The Merry Widow); ‘Meine Lippen’ (Giuditta) (encore)
Nicolai – Overture, The Merry Wives of Windsor
Heuberger – ‘Im chambre séparée’ (The Opera Ball)

Appropriately, conductor Thomas Rösner was born and studied in Vienna. He was assistant at the Musikverein there, so he is steeped in the Viennese Classics. His readings of these light-hearted, lilting and eminently tuneful melodies were consequently full of grace and charm. Such waltz favourites as An Artist’s Life and On the Beautiful Blue Danube were balanced by much lesser known pieces like the A Night in Venice Overture and Josef Strauss’s A Woman’s Heart Polka.

The programme began with a characterful reading of Nicolai’s popular The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture. Rösner cleverly drew a wickedly funny, flirtatious portrait of the two wives and a ridiculously pompous and self-important picture of Falstaff.

The Orchestra entered into the spirit of all the items and contributed extra-musical effects such as the heavy sighs for the Sigh Gallop. There were the striking and sometimes amusing special effects for the ever-popular Thunder and Lightning Polka.

Richard Heuberger’s ‘Im chamber séparée’ from The Opera Ball, is surely one of the most enchantingly beautiful of operetta arias. This was the soprano soloist Fflur Wyn’s opening song. Seemingly she was a little unsure of her projection and so this little gem’s charm was not fully realized. Wyn was on much surer ground when she let rip in Adèle’s ‘Laughing Song’ from Die Fledermaus. In the second half, Lehár operetta songs, she well plumbed the emotional depths implicit in her Tsarevich aria, she recalled the nostalgia of The Merry Widow’s ‘Viljalied’ and swaggered sexily through Giuditta’s ‘Meine Lippen’.

This Johann Strauss Gala concert and the ever-busy BSO now go on tour around England’s West Country: Wednesday 2nd January in the Great Hall, Exeter; Friday 4th January in The Brewhouse, Taunton; Sunday 6th January at Cheltenham’s Town Hall; Friday 11th January at the Princess Theatre, Torquay; and Saturday 12th January at the Pavilion, Weymouth.

Ian Lace

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