Classical / Gurrelieder Usher Hall
Friday 23 August 1996
But in most respects, one was struck by the smoothness, the expertness, of this Usher Hall performance on Wednesday. The young musicians of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester are supremely able. They throw off everything with a cool proficiency that takes all the risk out of the massive and complex textures, and they are equally able to etch the half-light of the work's opening, full of sporadic murmurings, as the overwhelming climaxes. Like a great professional orchestra, they reliably field players of maturity and real personality in this piece with its many string solos. And they can play very quietly, even the huge brass section sounding sometimes distant and ghostly.
Naturally, they know Abbado's ways, since he created the orchestra. This Italian musician is an uncanny master of the Viennese style, with its catch of breath in the beat, its lingering in mid-phrase, its animal warmth. Together, orchestra and conductor present an image of gloss and polish, quality music-making for the CD age.
But it makes you wonder what became of Schoenberg the expressionist. It would make little sense to perform Erwartung in this de luxe style. The vocal soloists abetted the impression. Jane Eaglen as Tove was her superb, all-embracing self, combining breadth with brilliance, making everything into a lyric evocation; and Thomas Moser (Waldemar) sounded imperturbable, singing through the consonants in a handsome, level tone, ably suggesting Siegfried the lover, never Siegfried the hero.
Kurt Azesberger, deputising for Philip Langridge who was ill, sang the part of the Jester in a simple, almost childlike style, without projection or overacting. In the small part of the Peasant, Franz Grundheber was more massive and rhetorical.
The Festival Chorus and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir provided the right kind of clamouring uproar. But this work goes beyond mere passion into magic and madness; its subject is the unhinged mind. All hinges were in order in this impeccable performance.
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 3 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 The jihadi girls who went to Syria weren't just radicalised by Isis — they were groomed
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
Spectre: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming James Bond movie
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'