Saturday, October 28, 2023

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

Based entirely on this concert (I have not heard his Mozart recordings), Riccardo Minasi – with a baton-less conducting style that means business – would seem to interpret Wolfgang Amadeus’s music with drama, vividness and tempos in the fast lane. Intervention, too. Following a Così Overture that was incisive, soulfully lyrical and then fleet, if ultimately just a little inconsequential, the ‘Haffner’ Symphony (No.35) was unleashed with energy and a blaze of brass and crisp (period) timpani – the Philharmoniker may have been reduced in personnel (four basses) but the volume was not – yet certain emphases, pauses and rits came across as mannered. The Andante second movement was nearer to Allegretto, with crushed grace notes and both halves repeated, although it serenaded nicely, as did the lilting Minuet & Trio, and then the Finale flew by, trumpets and drums to the fore if with dynamic variance in place. The Concertone, nominally for two violins, featured Noah Bendix-Balgley (concertmaster) & Thomas Timm (principal, second violins) and not forgetting oboist Albrecht Mayer who also stood front of stage. K190 is a charming and urbane if full-sized three-movement work here performed stylishly, the three soloists ideally and agreeably expressive as well as complementary, the orchestra (including two horns, another oboist, and a singled-out cellist) consistently poised and lively. Of far greater consequence is the G-minor Symphony No.40 (K550), as revised with a pair of clarinets added, given with a fast if flexible first movement, sounded with intensity albeit attention-seeking at times in terms of tempo adjustments. The slow movement flowed, except when it didn’t, a classical-romantic approach that seemed overly contrived, perhaps incompatible, and the more so come the inevitable repetitions. This isn’t a Symphony that needs all the marked repeats observed (whereas 39 & 41 are more accommodating of this); so, following an edgy Minuet (persuasive) and a toyed-with Trio (unconvincing), the Finale was not only rapid but the second-half repeat no longer had the emotional shockwaves experienced the first time for all that the Berliners played superbly and with total involvement for Minasi.

Così fan tutte: Overture
Symphony No. 35 “Haffnerˮ
Concertone for 2 Violins and Orchestra
Symphony No. 40