Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mariss Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra hit Paris (Dec.17 2009)

The "Salle Pleyel", as it is called here, is the Paris' best concert-hall. Its magnificent quality in programming pretty much owes to its music director and manager Laurent Bayle, who I'll say a bit more on some other occasion.

Today it's snowing in Paris, the public transportation is rarefied because of the social movement on the RER lines... but we hope for a good concert tonight in Pleyel to end the day on a good note: 
Mahler's Second Symphony by Mariss Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - excuse meh! ;)

Report to follow...

My fave recording of the Mahler Symphonies is the one by the same orchestra under Riccardo Chailly. I have it in my ears, I love it, and for some reason I went to the concert last night to find that same richness of sound, that unbelievable gebouwian fluidity in execution of the extremely sharp and deeply etched tones. Except that this time the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra was with Mariss Jansons who I admire on so many levels - and man... that was helluva shock!

The first movement, which is my favorite, was just ridiculously perfect. Listening to this orchestra playing Mahler live is a whole different experience... The surprising part was the softness of the second movement. You'd expect it to be like the usual  testosteronic combo of Jansons and Mahler. Well, no! The surprise was even bigger to me because I'd recently listened to Jansons conducting my other favorite orchestra (Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchester)  in an astonishingly viril interpretation of the Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. Last night, instead, Jansons managed to make the orchestra play the 2nd movement in an as lyric way as you can possibly imagine it being played. If the first movement had set you in for a rough ride, the second made you soothly dive into the score and its divine atmosphere. In retrospect that was a clever thing to do because the etched and more virile play comes back already in the 3rd movement (Scherzo) and hits you much stronger than it normally would. The divine effect of "Urlicht" (4th mov) was enhanced by the fact that the pieces of orchestra were placed in the corridors and under the staircases of the Pleyel hall, making that music sounds like being everywhere around us (the effect is particularly exquisite in Pleyel). The finale was a musical thunderstorm.

The sopranos, Bernarda Fink and Ricarda Merbeth, did their job superbly too. They did what I like the most: they served this amazing Symphony by vocally weaving through, and never tried to emphasize the importance of their presence in it. The chorus - excellent too.

What a concert! What an AMAZING concert!!!!

My camera seriously stinks but I'll upload a few pics tonight. Gotta buy myself a good camera, with a bigger lense!

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