Sep 7, 2022 8pm Philharmonie, Paris
Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Philadelphia Orchestra
Lisa Batiashvili (violin)
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1
(Violin Encores – 1. Debussy: Beau soir (Yannick on piano), 2. Machavariani: Doluri)
Dvořák: Symphony No.7
(Orch Encores – 1. Silvestrov: Prayer for Ukraine, 2. Dvořák: Slavonic Dance No.5?)
(scroll down for English review)
This is the third American orchestra I saw in this Europe trip. Philadelphia Orchestra is surely the most famous but the one I had the least expectations, as I found Nézet-Séguin might have spread himself too thin and previous concerts that I saw in Tokyo and Hong Kong were awfully mediocre. Lisa Batiashvili played in the entire first half with two-thirds of her new album recorded with this very orchestra and conductor, also with the Beau soir encore with the conductor at the piano. This might be the first time I heard this Szymanowski concerto live, to me this is an underexposed work and very enjoyable as a symphonic poem with violin obbligato. Batiashvili tended to constrain her tone without going to deep and I found her somehow lacking as the protagonist of this piece. The Chausson showpiece was also started in an understated manner but the climax and aftermath were very powerful. Usually I don’t like soloists on an orchestra tour concert but this repertoire choice and the conductor’s dedication make this first half very worthwhile.
I was so overjoyed by the Dvořák Seventh, now I realized my previous disappointments weren’t due to the conductor but quite simply the strings’ fault, the violins to be precise. Here they played the phrases with care, ensuring the notes were clearly articulated and that’s it, the whole orchestral balance fell into place.
Solely in terms of enjoyment my ratings on these three concerts are Philadelphia > Pittsburgh > Cleveland but Honeck and Pittsburgh’s interpretative insights are miles ahead.
Sep 3, 2022 8pm Philharmonie, Berlin
Franz Welser-Möst / Cleveland Orchestra
Rihm: Verwandlung 3, 2
Schubert: Symphony No.9
(scroll down for English review)
After the full house of Rattle’s LSO concert I was shocked to see the hall was just 1/3 full for this Cleveland Orchestra concert. Almost every movement was applauded, a sign that the audience weren’t regulars. I had expectations of the two Rihm pieces but they sounded too much like free associations that simply went on and on.
It was four years since I last saw Welser-Möst and Cleveland live in concert, it was Beethoven Pastoral and probably the Fourth. Schubert Ninth was once again a Viennese classic. Welser-Möst used a 64-strong string section and had the woodwind section doubled. He was obviously influenced by HIP in his tempi and texture choices, but he allowed himself freedom to vary his string texture and volume to make this long piece less repetitive. He finally unleashed the orchestra’s full power in the finale. But unlike LSO’s mercurial but dull tone the Cleveland strings played with a mellow but luminous sound. Along with fellow Austrian Manfred Honeck, Welser-Möst cultivates another America orchestra with meticulous care of its timbre. It’s an enjoyable Schubert Ninth, but one with hardly any interpretative insights, so it’s always the volume and texture making the differences.