Saturday, June 24, 2023

Waldbühne, Olympiapark, Glockenturmstraße 1, Berlin

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s end-of-season outdoor concert opened with the Freischütz Overture, not the most atmospheric account despite the forest surrounds if played warmly – not least by the exposed horn quartet – and if the fast music lacked a little for dynamism, save for the coda, the appearance of Klaus Florian Vogt for Max’s recitative & aria raised the stakes, suggestive of dark deeds, and well within the tenor’s generous and communicative vocal compass. The Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin could have been zestier, and went a little awry at the end, then Vogt was radiant and clarion-like in the first of two eponymous arias, the second confiding the character’s love for a swan via thoroughbred phrasing and dramatic inclination; the numerous picnickers, whether seated or sprawling, were enraptured.

This short first half gave way to an interval of similar length (if now too long) and then it was Richard Strauss all the way, beginning with a Till Eulenspiegel less than mischievous, less of a cartoon strip, less graphic than usual, if finely detailed, affectionate, Till’s adventures sly rather than signposted. Vogt returned for three Lieder (presumably orchestrated by the composer) and once again he added a dimension to the music-making not always apparent when he wasn’t singing – and included a delectable Morgen! as an extra – although the Berliners did now stay in a higher gear to ravish the senses with the so-called Rosenkavalier Suite, probably compiled by conductor Artur Rodziński, Nelsons indulging it to expressive and dreamy advantage, not least the exquisite ‘Trio’, leaving the final waltzes to brighten the night sky, it being well past ten-o’clock in Berlin.

Carl Maria von Weber Der Freischütz: Overture; “Nein, länger tragʼ ich nicht die Qualen” – “Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen”
Richard Wagner Lohengrin: Prelude, Act III; “In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten”; “Mein lieber Schwan”
Richard Strauss Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks)
Ständchen · Freundliche Vision · Cäcilie
Der Rosenkavalier, suite

Time now to reflect on the season just ended. Three events come immediately to mind…