Prom 59: Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich / Zinman, Royal Albert Hall, London
Sunday 30 August 2009
As if the line of succession between Schubert and Mahler were not plain enough, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich had the Argentina-born composer Osvaldo Golijov illuminate the connections in his beautifully imagined orchestration of four Schubert songs She Was Here.
“She” was Dawn Upshaw and Golijov’s highly personalised perspective on the songs seemed to hearken back to the lowering introduction of Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture, which began the concert, and forward to Mahler’s Fourth Symphony which concluded it.
But most importantly She Was Here inhabited its own quiet unreachable place deep in the longing for peace and finality linking the four chosen songs. Golijov makes of them one sensuous stream of consciousness with spacious and evocative (and highly Mahlerian) use of horns and rustling celeste, harp and strings in the nocturnal forest of the wanderer’s solitude. It is here that dreams are realised and farewells anticipated. Golijov even has the clarinet and harp allude to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (“Song of the Earth”) as if to further accentuate this oneness with nature. Such intimacies, set largely in the middle and lower reaches of the voice, are almost too personal to be shared with a hall this size and I suspect that even Dawn Upshaw’s clear tracing of words will only have made an impression on those of us close enough to be drawn into her confidence. Sometimes the Royal Albert Hall can be truly frustrating place.
It will certainly of robbed great swathes of the audience of Upshaw’s tomboyish charm in “Das himmlische Leben”, the knowingly gauche view of heavenly life which wraps up the Fourth Symphony. Words always come first in dictating Upshaw’s highly personal sound and here she caught the playfulness of the text without the cuteness.
Actually, David Zinman, the conductor, might have been more mindful of her “angel with the grubby face”. His Mahler – pristine in the extreme – is never grubby enough. Admittedly the bucolic charms of the Fourth Symphony lend themselves more readily to Zinman’s translucent way with texturing and the delectable “turn” on the Schubertian first subject, to say nothing of the inviting cellos in the second, showed the Zurich Orchestra’s prowess. There was a naturalness and ease about the playing with much sweetness in the downiest soft playing.
But where were the sinister half-lights of the death-stalked second movement or the anxieties of over-reaching violins in the third? Beautiful, yes, but only two-thirds of the story.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Guardians of the Galaxy - review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
R Kelly dropped from Ohio music festival following backlash
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >