Friday, February 16, 2024

Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin

The Brahms was powerful and pensive, thrusting yet magnanimous, multi-layered, with emotional and dynamic contrasts sustained by an all-through intensity, the playing burnished yet vivid, oboes cutting through refulgently.

Symphonia domestica reports a family affair – a day in the life of the Strausses – even if such as baby and bath water, breakfast, bickering, and numerous other situations and characterisations are secondary if cueing a range of motifs, given a lively and affectionate portrayal in Berlin, with much rapture in the love-making episode, Herr und Frau with the bedroom door closed, the curtains also, tender at first, becoming exhaustively climactic … rise and shine … the next morning begins with a squabbling double fugue, fit and crisp from the Philharmoniker, followed by reconciliation and a big-finish coda, Petrenko with one ear on the musical small print, although he didn’t go as far as to include the ad lib saxophone quartet (or did Strauss mean saxhorns?). The conclusion was electrifying – fantastic playing from all, heroic horns, explosive timpani tattoos – and emphatically ended.

In between, the First of Karol Szymanowski’s two Violin Concertos, large-orchestra colourful, volatile, sensual, exotic, and ecstatic. Lisa Batiashvili is committed to its cause (she’s recorded it for DG in Philadelphia) and was here seductive, wistful and impassioned, which carried into Paweł Kochański’s cadenza, and mirrored in the widescreen cinematography of the orchestra, details and descriptions relished by Petrenko.

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