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<<  -- 3 --  Bill Newman    BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY


Ma mère l'oye -- the suite, not the full ballet score -- was quite outstanding, the conductor's penchant for carrying the line whilst characterising the delicacy of nuance, showing off the virtues of section leaders. I was slightly disappointed with Akiko Suwanai's performance of Tzigane. Remembering the red-bloodiness of Ruggiero Ricci and Ivry Gitlis interpretations, her technically proficient playing lacked the swarthy, domineering, over-sexed portrayal, and the demonic element that takes over during its extended final pages.

Daphnis et Chloé is a Dutoit speciality. The way he coaxed the players, allowing time and space to provide individual beauties in solo spots, merging the whole ensemble's long, sinuous phrasework through the specific sections in a superbly graded stream of continuity with spot-on adherence to changes of pulse and dynamics, was remarkable to behold. Pauses, so important for purposes of contrasts of scene linking, and keeping climaxes firmly in check for fortissimo outbursts, e.g. Danse de feuer, Danse genérales, were equally impressive. I must also pay tribute to the Ernst Senff Chor -- their singing and timing was first class. Long ago, Pierre Monteux had to ask his LSO violas to parallel the chorus as a pitch guide to make sure they stayed in tune! Not so here.

On a following evening, Dutoit directed L'Orchestre National de France, Paris, in a Debussy programme. On home ground, his directions were more laid back for works firmly placed in current programme series. Ibéria from Images pour Orchestre traced the composer's masterly visions with featherlike dexterity and vivid pictorial realism, the effect quite different -- tighter, more pungent, sharply accented and dryer in tone than the BPO's smoother, richer opulence.

Gerhard Oppitz gave a restrained, almost half-toned account of the rarely heard Fantasie for piano and orchestra, in keeping with Debussy's desires to keep his soloist as part of the ensemble. From where I sat, alongside and slightly back from the violins, in a first tier position, I had to strain to hear every note on the keyboard, but Oppitz, I am certain, missed nothing out!

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Copyright © 19 December 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





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