Adroit de­but in Leipzig lets the mu­sic speak for it­self

Mal­colm Hayes ap­plauds An­dris Nel­sons’s land­mark Ge­wand­haus con­cert, sen­si­tively cap­tured for the screen

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Or­ches­tral de­tail is, for once, en­hanced by the vis­ual edit­ing

An­dris Nel­sons’s of­fi­cial open­ing con­cert as prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor of the Ge­wand­hau­sor­ch­ester of­fers top-flight mu­sic-mak­ing be­ing al­lowed – and with Nel­sons at the helm, cease­lessly en­cour­aged – to do its own talk­ing. As recorded in the city’s hand­some new(ish) Ge­wand­haus ★all, the sound is a feast in its own right – a lovely bal­ance of clar­ity, spa­cious­ness, and glow­ing warmth. Pos­si­bly Baiba Skride’s solo vi­o­lin in Berg’s Con­certo is rather to the fore, but not at the ex­pense of or­ches­tral de­tail, per­cep­tion of which is for once ac­tu­ally en­hanced rather than ob­structed by the vis­ual edit­ing. For in­stance in the pas­sage in the slow fi­nale where the solo vi­o­lin’s line is grad­u­ally joined by the rest of the first vi­o­lin sec­tion play­ing in uni­son, Skride turns round to face them as she plays with them – a lovely mo­ment, caught by the cam­era.

With Skride’s un­fussy ac­count of Berg’s mu­si­cal por­trayal of the win­some per­son­al­ity, ill­ness, death, and imag­ined heav­en­ward as­cent of Manon Gropius, Alma Mahler’s teenage daugh­ter, the work be­comes as mov­ing as it should be. ★er en­core is a solo piece by von Westhoff, a Bach con­tem­po­rary from neigh­bour­ing Dres­den. In trib­ute to a cel­e­brated for­mer Ge­wand­haus mu­sic di­rec­tor, Men­delssohn’s Scot­tish Sym­phony is played with poise and gor­geous­ness: I won­der what the or­ches­tra thought of Nel­sons’s near-im­pos­si­bly quick tempo for the Vi­vace non troppo se­cond move­ment? Leipzig com­poser St­ef­fen Sch­leier­ma­cher’s con­cert opener, Re­lief, pro­vides all too pre­dictable, in-your-face con­trasts of frosted-glass still­ness and punchy rhetoric. PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★★

PIC­TURE & SOUND ★★★★★

Unan­i­mous ensem­ble: soloist Baiba Skride and An­dris Nel­sons play Berg

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