Hallé/Elder/Kirchschlager, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Wednesday 06 October 2010
After its exceptional contribution to Manchester's celebration of Mahler last season, the Hallé – opening the season with more music by the same composer – appeared to have some unfinished business. But when the pieces in question were so fascinating and their interpretation so compelling, by players who now clearly have the rhythms and subtleties of Mahler's music in their blood, it felt quite logical.
The Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager brought a delightfully fresh characterisation to six of the Wunderhorn songs – folk poems about soldiers, shepherds, lovers and the dark side of life. After a feisty exchange between a haughty Hussar and his spirited girl in "Trost im Ungluck", Kirchshlager produced a puckish humour in the wager between the cuckoo and the nightingale, with nasal pronouncements from a donkey, in "Lob des Hohen Verstandes". In "Das irdische Leben", the unsettling tale of a child who dies because her mother fails to bake bread, she demonstrated a brooding intensity carried over into the last in her selection, "Urlicht", performed with a silvery radiance.
Before this, Mark Elder conducted the original version of Totenfeier, which Mahler later adapted as the opening movement of his Second Symphony. As Michael Kennedy remarked so perceptively in his programme note, we are hearing the composer in his workshop. But though the fatalistic single movement "Funeral Rite" may be a work-in-progress, the Hallé brought finesse, coherency and momentum to its reading.
In Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, Elder drew a succession of climaxes while pointing up the work's symphonic line through the ticking drama of its balletic scherzo, the lyrical intensity of its tender slow movement and its ebullient finale. No surprise, then, that the day after this concert, the Hallé – enjoying a renaissance under the musical directorship of Elder – won not just one but two accolades at the Gramophone Awards, for Elgar's Violin Concerto and for its superb live recording of Wagner's Götterdämmerung. On the same day, Manchester International Festival announced that a highlight of its 2011 programme would be a concert performance, by Elder and the Hallé, of Die Walkure. An unmissable event.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?