A Masterclass of Excellence from the Bayerisches Staatsorchester and Cornelius Meister


GermanyGermany Hefti, Beethoven, Richard Strauss: ‘Akademiekonzert’, Maria Mazo (piano), David Schultheiß (violin), Yves Savary (cello), Bayerisches Staatsorchester / Cornelius Meister, Nationaltheater, Munich, 21.3.2017. (MC)

Cornelius Meister - Dirigent Photo: Marco Borggreve

Cornelius Meister (c) Marco Borggreve

David Philip HeftiChangements– Stimmungsbilder für Orchester

Beethoven – Triple Concerto, op.56

Richard StraussAlso sprach Zarathustra, op.30

For its series of Akademiekonzert at Nationaltheater the Bayerisches Staatsorchester leaves the pit for the concert stage. This series of concerts draws capacity audiences which is not surprising as the combination of an elite orchestra, attractive programming and glorious surroundings is a mouth-watering proposition. Valery Gergiev music director of the neighbouring Münchner Philharmoniker clearly knows the reputation of the Akademiekonzert and took his seat in the audience.

Swiss composer David Philip Hefts provided the opening work ChangementsStimmungsbilder für Orchester (Atmospheric Mood Pictures for orchestra). Written in 2011 the single movement score was premiered in Heidelberg under the baton of tonight’s conductor Cornelius Meister who is the dedicatee of the score. Recurring changes of mood and texture, often of an unusual quality, are a fundamental feature of the thirteen-minute score from elusive scurrying woodwind figures, unearthly string sounds to fiery brass outbursts to name but a few aspects. Noticably an undertow of anxiety pervades much of the writing. It’s an accessible work given a resonable degree of concentration which was well received by the audience.

The trio of Maria Mazo (piano), David Schultheiß (violin) and Yves Savary (cello) delivered an engaging performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto a work that I don’t see programmed too often.  Completed by the composer in 1804 the concerto is an upbeat score that avoids the urgent, often unsettling and tension filled music he had been writing.  Beethoven provided little dialogue with the orchestra, neverthess the trio of Mazo, Schultheiß and Savary played their rather meagre parts with sincerity and  assurance, affording as much gravity as I have seen given to this work. Significantly the instrumental balance favoured Mazo’s gloriously rich piano tone over the light timbre of the violin, and in this acoustic Savary’s cello had a rather boxy sound.

Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra is a challenging showpiece that tests the quality of even the finest orchestras. Inspired by the poetic imagery and chapter headings of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra Strauss himself described the programme as depicting “the relationship of nature and human will”. Undoubtedly one of the glories of classical music, the remarkable opening passage a depiction of Sunrise was performed as outstandingly as I have heard it with the organ pedal reverberating impressively around the auditorium. The assured direction of Cornelius Meister ensured all the lyrical and expressive energy of Strauss’s score using such splendidly judged dynamics. Clearly excellently prepared the orchestra gave a masterclass of excellence playing with an uncommon clarity and polish which didn’t come at the expense of colour and excitement. In quite stunning form the world-class Bayerisches Staatsorchester passed this taxing examination with flying colours. I’ve never heard this orchestral masterwork played better.

Michael Cookson


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month