Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Rattle part two (Berlin Phil./Prom 66)

Prom 66: Anderson, Dvořák, and Brahms (Simon Rattle cond. Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Albert Hall)
Julian Anderson, Incantesimi, received its UK premiere. It is a short piece and the best way to describe it would be as an attempt to answer Ives’s Unanswered Question using a dialogue between brass and the rest of the orchestra.  
Antonin Dvořák, Slavonic Dances, Op 46. The Berliners then did all the Slavonic Dances. Some would suggest this complete approach was excessive, but frankly this explosion of exuberance broke the clouds of tension built up by the Anderson, I was quite happy to hear the lot. Very obviously the orchestra loved playing this. Nobody seemed bothered by the persistent smattering of applause between dances; after some I was rather tempted. Certainly it was party atmosphere. 
Promming for the Berlin Band was popular. Own photograph.
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No 2 in D major.  This is rather a complex one to digest, and the session beforehand certainly complicated this. Is it really pastoral? Is it joyful? What is the meaning of those pensive trombones at the end? Rattle and Co simply brought out this problematic nature and left it for the audience to make up its mind. Maybe this was  a cop-out, but if it was, it was a highly-enjoyable one.
No doubt about it, the Berliners have an astonishingly good sound, accompanied, not unreasonably, by remarkable self-assuredness. With Rattle they have a deeply sympathetic relationship. Yet was this the very best choice? The two major works were not obvious choices: they were serious perhaps awkward pieces. Ideal for something which would sell out whatever they did. But I wonder: would something even more unknown or edgy have done them better credit?
Julian Anderson, Incantesimi (UK première)
Antonin Dvorak, Slavonic Dances, Op 46
Johannes Brahms, Symphony No 2 in D major
Berlin Philharmonic
Sir Simon Rattle conductor

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