Marcon conducts the Munich Philharmonic in three works from C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven

16/10/2019

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Haydn, C.P.E. Bach, Beethoven: Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Münchner Philharmoniker / Andrea Marcon (conductor/harpsichord). Philharmonie, Munich, 12.10.2019. (MC)

Jean-Guihen Queyras (c) Marco Borggreve

Haydn – Symphony No.39, in G minor, Hob. I:39

C.P.E. Bach – Cello Concerto No.3 in A major, Wq 172

Beethoven – Symphony No.2 in D major, Op. 36

Early music specialist Andrea Marcon with his background in period instrument performance may initially seem an incongruous collaboration with the Münchner Philharmoniker steeped in the Austro/German tradition, but far from it. Marcon conducted a programme of three classical era works, written just fifty years apart, from C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven. Decidedly impressive is how seamlessly this modern instrument orchestra, noted for its expressive style and accuracy, can move from the Romantic tradition of Bruckner and Mahler to the classical era employing aspects of period informed performance practice. Noticeably Marcon pared down the number of players ranging from a modest 31 in the C.P.E. Bach to 45 in the Beethoven, employing brisk tempi with clean, crisp textures and using vibrato extremely sparely.

Symphony No.39, an early example of Sturm und Drang, is sometimes nicknamed Tempesta di mare (Storm at sea) and is a product of Haydn’s time as kapellmeister at the Esterházy court. Marcon and his players took the audience on a journey that was both exhilarating and dramatic. Although only taking up little space on such a large stage the 40-strong orchestra certainly produced a full sound which filled this large hall splendidly. My highlights include the glorious string sound especially marked in the stately dance rhythms of the Menuetto and the foot-tapping infectiousness of the Finale.

Known for so long primarily as J.S. Bach’s second surviving son, C.P.E. Bach is now becoming acknowledged as a significant composer in his own right. French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras was soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Third Cello Concerto with Marcon directing proceedings from the harpsichord. Breathing life into the music Queyras gave a captivating performance of tremendous verve that made one sit up. With impeccable intonation his Gioffredo Cappa (1696) cello fitted with steel strings produced a gorgeous, rich sound especially conspicuous in the Largo bringing out a quality of heartfelt yearning. Queyras excelled in the cadenzas demonstrating such remarkable facility and I appreciated the short but mischievous interplay between cello and double bass.

In the concert hall Beethoven’s Symphony No.2 in D major often gets overlooked by the more prestigious orchestras (unless a complete Beethoven cycle is being recorded) and on the few occasions I have attended performances it has been performed by chamber orchestras. As much as I appreciate hearing the more famous symphonies in Beethoven’s cycle, I was delighted for the opportunity of hearing the Second Symphony. I endeavour to be mindful that the symphony is a product of the time of the composer’s harrowing emotional turmoil as demonstrated by the famous ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’ he gave to his brothers in 1802. Eschewing big-band Beethoven Marcon was using 45 players including 12 wind and a percussionist and once again I was thrilled by the satisfying results of both playing and sound. Taken reasonably robustly the performance of the opening movement felt alert and determined with a magnificent internal balance. In the passionate Larghetto in Marcon’s hands the music evoked a reflection of lost love with its grey, rather solemn undertow. Striking in the Scherzo was the unusual dance-like rhythm executed with a whip-sharp precision. Uplifting and spirited throughout the Finale, taken at a very brisk pace, was noticeably underpinned by the three resonant basses. Concluding on a celebratory note the elevated level of performance deservedly obtained an enthusiastic response from the Munich audience. Normally accustomed to the Münchner Philharmoniker playing heavier Romantic works, hearing this outstanding orchestra play Classical repertoire was a real treat.

Michael Cookson

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Transitions Dance Company’s 2020 UK Tour from 21 Feb – 6 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Aldeburgh Festival from 12 – 28 June 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month