Prom 33: BBC SO / Runnicles
Prom 36: Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester/Nagano, Royal Albert Hall, London
Friday 12 August 2005
Alas, this reading by the BBC Symphony Orchestra proved a disappointment. Granted, the overall profiles of the three pieces came over strongly, as large-scale structures always do under Donald Runnicles. But too much of the detail remained undefined, lost in the turbid textures. Fortunately, the ensuing performance of Mahler's youthful cantata Das Klagende Lied (1878-80), brought a transformation.
Mahler completed this 68-minute, three-part setting of a Wunderhorn-style folk ballad of his own concoction at the age of 20. It is an astonishing achievement, scored with that uniquely Mahlerian openness, vibrancy and radiance. Runnicles unfolded the work's episodic structure with a flowing continuity, while the BBC Symphony Chorus contributed feelingly to an altogether exceptional experience.
Prom 36 comprised a visit by the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin - the city's radio orchestra - under its current chief conductor, Kent Nagano. It opened some distance from Vienna with a crisp reading of Weber's Overture to Die Freischütz. It moved further still with the European premiere of snagS & Snarls - scenes from 'Alice in Wonderland' by the 46-year old South Korean composer Unsuk Chin. Christiane Oelze was the deft soloist in these amusingly bizarre if slight Lewis Carroll settings.
The second half, however, brought Bruckner: hardly a composer with whom one had hitherto associated the Francophile Nagano. But he proved rather inspiring in the Symphony No 6, allowing mellow Berlin horns and the superbly weighty, grainy strings to sing out and resonate to the full, yet gripping the underlying structures of the four movements as an almost classical whole. Very fine - and a real surprise.
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