Home Theatre A feast of sonorities from Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Proms – Seen and Heard Worldwide

A feast of sonorities from Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Proms – Seen and Heard Worldwide

A feast of sonorities from Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Proms – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United KingdomUnited Kingdom Promenade 35 – Berg and Mahler: Leila Josefowicz (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo (conductor). Royal Albert Corridor, London, 10.8.2023. (CK)

Sakari Oramo conducts violinist Leila Josefowicz and the BBC SO © BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Berg – Violin Concerto
Mahler – Symphony No.7

Late in final 12 months’s BBC Promenade season, Kirill Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic carried out Mahler’s Seventh, which they had been enjoying throughout Europe (and, I believe, additional afield). The efficiency was ecstatically acquired. Petrenko’s recording of the work (with a special orchestra) was Gramophone‘s Recording of the Yr. But that well-honed Promenade efficiency left me a bit of dissatisfied. It was extraordinarily effective, and Petrenko’s rapport along with his gamers was a pleasure: but when a Mahler efficiency is technically flawless (I felt this about Sir Simon Rattle’s Royal Pageant Corridor Third Symphony with the Berliners in 2011), is there a threat that one thing important – Neville Cardus known as it the Mahlerian ectoplasm – will drain out of it? I’m on dodgy floor right here; not everybody will agree {that a} Klaus Tennstedt Mahler efficiency – the place there was usually a sense that issues might crumble at any second – was nearer to The Actual Factor.

Anyway, right here we had been, nearly a 12 months later: the indisposition of Sir Andrew Davis (get properly quickly, Sir Andrew) left the valiant Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra two days to organize the Seventh (a change from the initially scheduled Tenth). The one Mahler I had beforehand heard Oramo carry out had been the Fourth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde – each of them in Birmingham, each very effective – so I used to be curious to listen to him tackle the hardest nut (some would say) of all of them.

The opening minutes had me questioning if the symphony wanted stronger accents and fewer variation in tempo: Oramo appeared to wish to decelerate within the extra reflective stretches and permit the stress to sag. However his spacious, unhurried view of the symphony quickly got here into its personal. The tenor horn bloomed splendidly within the large areas of the Albert Corridor; and I don’t suppose I’ve ever heard a participant extra attentive to Mahler’s hairpin dynamics, to magical impact. And that was the important thing to Oramo’s studying: this loopy symphony sprouts instrumental solos, duets and so forth in all instructions, and Oramo and his gamers allowed us to listen to and to savour all of them. A lot of the enjoying had a chamber music delicacy; and I can actually say that I heard issues that I had by no means heard earlier than.

This efficiency wouldn’t have labored if the usual of enjoying had been under par. But it surely was marvellous: the brass and woodwind principals had been very good; the principal horn specifically had an exquisite night time, and people piercing, stratospheric trumpet leaps had been fearlessly taken. The string enjoying had a cleanness and transparency extra suited to this symphony than a richer, plusher sound. I might give dozens of examples of instrumental felicities that made their mark because the bizarre pageant handed by; while I’ll award a consultant bouquet to the principal flute.

In the direction of the tip of the primary Nachtmusik, over a muffled tramping in cellos and double basses, the flute has to play a ten-note phrase, with large intervals, pianissimo, inside a single bar. Mahler marks it fluchtig – ‘fleeting’, or maybe ‘flighty’. What she (on this efficiency) has to do is to flutter about between the barlines with out touching them, like a moth in a cage. Two bars later she has to do it once more – although, this being Mahler, it isn’t a precise repeat: then, half a bar later, a briefer phrase – an echo. If this hushed little episode is performed imaginatively – fleetingly – because it was right here, it has a quietly potent impact.

Earlier than leaving this motion, some briefer bouquets – horns daring and safe within the atmospheric opening; two ruthes fairly than one, giving correct prominence to their dry, rattling crescendo; a perky bassoon march; a beautiful diminuendo on the finish. Within the shadowy Scherzo, wailing clarinets, booming tuba, an eructating bassoon … Oramo working onerous to verify all the things was audible; and once more, an ending finely achieved. The second Nachtmusik was fantastically performed at a flowing tempo, with no self-indulgence, no expressive over-egging. One other beautiful horn solo. And so to the finale’s explosion of timpani and the intense blaze of brass: nonetheless no sense of hurry, no try and pressure the music into some form of coherence (requested in the course of the interval broadcast learn how to make the symphony cohere, Oramo retorted ‘It’s not meant to be coherent’. Revealingly, he thought that on this work the main focus needs to be not on Mahler the composer however on Mahler the conductor. ‘Embrace the sounds – bodily seize them’).

Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC SO in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony © BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Some performances of this closing motion discover an all-pervading sense of irony; Oramo’s was genial, nearly gemütlich, with a powerful sense of play. Right here once more there was enjoying of nice readability and delicacy. The cowbells on the finish had been fairly too discreet – the participant might have taken inspiration from the girl splendidly belabouring the tubular bells – and the ultimate chord was not fairly a single detonation: however these are minor quibbles.

Is that this the one method to play the fascinating Seventh? In fact not. Oramo’s interpretation, leaning to the Romantic fairly than the Modernist, had an integrity of its personal, achieved via effective conducting and enjoying. A final litmus take a look at: in some performances of the finale I’ve felt the earlier it’s over, the higher. Right here, I felt a real disappointment that we had been approaching the symphony’s finish. Given the fraught circumstances and the last-minute change of symphony, the efficiency was nearly miraculous. How onerous this conductor and orchestra work! In a couple of days they play the Pejačević symphony, and, a couple of days later, Mahler’s different nice open-air symphony, the Third. Hats off to them.

Final season, Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker provided us the symphony by itself; right here, in a considerable and demanding programme, it adopted a efficiency of Berg’s Violin Concerto, with Leila Josefowicz as soloist. It was rivetingly achieved, unsparing in its Mahlerian depiction of the horror of sickness and loss of life, the fragility of life and love. The Bach chorale on the 4 clarinets introduced balm, as all the time, however as a gateway to closing repose: there was sweetness on the shut, however no suggestion of transcendence. In components of the primary motion Josefowicz’s tone got here near being swamped by the orchestra, however her fine-grained enjoying held its personal – even when she turned in direction of the orchestra, communing with the orchestral violins as a lot as with the viewers. The temporary crying of a kid within the viewers throughout a hushed passage was unexpectedly poignant. On the finish, after an prolonged ovation, Josefowicz held the rating aloft earlier than giving us the Largo from Bach’s Third Sonata for Solo Violin, holding hundreds in thrall to a single and delightful thread of sound.

Chris Kettle



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