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Poignant Sweetness

Sarah Connolly and the Hallé Orchestra
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


I heard Sarah Connolly and the Hallé Orchestra perform Mahler's Rückert Lieder in Derby just two months before. This was, if anything, even finer (Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK, 14 November 2007).

Particularly striking was the sensitive way Connolly coloured individual words -- 'linden' at the start of 'Ich atmet einen linden Duft!' was one that caught my attention. Singer and orchestra produced a fine sense of sombre introspection at the start of 'Um Mitternacht', warmth in 'Liebst du um Schönheit' and a radiant calm in 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' so intense you hardly dared breathe.

Mendelssohn's overture Die schöne Melusine opened the concert in a performance that combined a lucid handling of the opening and closing water music with a dramatic account of the central section.

In the second half conductor Mark Elder presided over an account of Elgar's Second Symphony informed by a tension and vitality you could sense in the very first held note. A fairly steady opening tempo paid off in terms of detail and rhythmic vitality, and the broad tempo chosen for the second movement was so convincing that it was several minutes before I realised just how broad it was.

The climax of the third movement was properly ferocious, and if the brass and percussion tended to swamp other details, that simply reinforced the music's dramatic point. The finale was kept on the move, and the final bars were a leave-taking of poignant sweetness.

Copyright © 22 November 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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