United States Brahms: Staatskapelle Berlin / Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor). Carnegie Corridor, New York, 1.12.2023. (RP)
Brahms – Symphony No.3 in F main, Op.90; Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98
It was per week of twists and turns for 2 of New York’s nice musical organizations. First, Daniel Barenboim withdrew from two extremely anticipated, all-Brahms live shows with the Staatskapelle Berlin at Carnegie Corridor with simply over per week’s discover. Local weather activists disrupted a efficiency of Wagner’s Tannhäuser on the Metropolitan Opera, making headline information. In contrast, tenor Juan Diego Flórez saying that he was recovering from a chilly barely induced a ripple at his Carnegie Corridor recital (assessment right here).
For all involved, the eighty-one-old Barenboim’s cancellation was unhappy information. Earlier within the 12 months, well being points had compelled his resignation as music director of the Staatskapelle, which he had led since 1992. Well being now induced him to cancel the orchestra’s North American tour to Chicago (the place he had served as music director from 1991 to 2005), Toronto, Philadelphia and New York.
But once more, it was Yannick Nézet-Séguin who saved the day. He’s Carnegie Corridor’s go-to conductor when disaster strikes, which it has with disconcerting regularity in recent times. He was additionally on board to conduct the Staatskapelle in Philadelphia, the place he’s in his twelfth season as music and inventive director for The Philadelphia Orchestra.
This was the second of two live shows of the Staatskapelle’s full Brahms symphony cycle. The night earlier than, Nézet-Séguin had led them in Symphonies Nos. 1 and a couple of. Regardless of his not having labored with the Staatskapelle in recent times, there was nothing tentative or unpolished from both the conductor or the orchestra on this live performance. The goodwill of the orchestra was decidedly an element: there have been smiles on the faces of the string gamers all through the efficiency.
What impressed earlier than a word was performed was the dimensions of the Staatskapelle Berlin string part. The location of the decrease strings to the conductor’s left was a bit out of the norm and resulted in a marked sonic distinction from what is often heard within the corridor. The ensuing further heat and physique to the general string sound suited Brahms to a tee.
Brahms composed his Third Symphony in 1883 in simply 4 months. It was a remarkably speedy effort for the fastidious composer, much more so because it had been six years since he had accomplished his Second Symphony.
The symphony additionally discovered him in uncommonly excessive spirits – he has the woodwinds enjoying the musical cipher of his motto ‘Frei aber froh’ (‘Free however glad’) within the first measures. Brahms clearly supposed it as a rebuke to violinist Joseph Joachim’s acid-spiked reformulation of the motto as ‘Frei aber einsam’ (‘Free however lonely’) to explain the never-wed composer.
Within the first motion of the symphony, after swish enjoying from the woodwinds, Nézet-Séguin drew fantastic waves of sound, full of pleasure and vitality, from the orchestra. The second motion was outlined by the depth and richness of the horn enjoying and the swish melodies within the winds, which ended tender and stylish.
A somber temper was solid by the cellos enjoying of one in all Brahms’s best-known melodies within the third motion. It confirmed Nézet-Séguin at his lyrical finest as he wrung emotion out the music by way of his delicate phrasing. Within the lyrical, passionate finale, the shimmering enjoying of the strings pale into nothingness within the closing measures.
Brahms Fourth Symphony, composed in the course of the summers of 1884 and 1885, is among the many darkest works within the canon. It’s nonetheless thought of the composer’s most interesting, due mainly to it being probably the most personally revealing and architecturally advanced of his 4 symphonies.
Nézet-Séguin led a dramatic studying of the primary motion, notable for the brilliance of the violin sound. Within the second motion, the horn enjoying over pizzicato strings was remarkably tremendous. Because the motion progressed, it grew to become quicker and darker.
The Allegro giocoso was equally dramatic however ever a lot lighter in temper and texture. Humor was injected by the addition of piccolo and triangle to the orchestra’s colours. Slashes of brass fanfares alternated with softer passages by which the string sound was particularly vibrant.
An explosion of sound and vitality launched the finale. The fugal sections had been flowing and quick, with the articulation of the theme by the violins notably clear and exact. The prevailing emotion because the motion progressed was terror, which was solely launched by the roll of the timpani echoing by way of the corridor on the finish of this sensible and courageous efficiency.