Saturday, August 26, 2023

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

Musikfest Berlin has another impressive line-up of orchestras and musicians for this year’s festival (until September 18), as the appearance of this great Dutch orchestra with Iván Fischer demonstrates. It was only recently that Sakari Oramo conducted an engrossing Mahler Seven at the Proms,, and now Fischer was following suit (if differently) with a sinewy and swaggeringly purposeful first movement, lingeringly romantic, too, yet with a relish of the score’s modernist leanings. ‘Nachtmusik I’ was kept on the move with details pungently rendered, and the second such movement was a delicately fragranced serenade, violin, guitar and mandolin a-wooing in a gentle breeze. In between, the macabre Scherzo was especially fleet and dangerous to know, things going bump in the night and with acerbic punctuations, tongues sticking out rudely. As for the daylight festive Finale, cued by a very particular timpani salvo, Fischer swept through it, with a dry wit if less nudging and winking than with some conductors (Bernstein, his second New York recording, DG), sure-footedly to a clangorous and joyous conclusion.

I cannot comment on the Widmann song-cycle as I was only able to join the broadcast quite some minutes in – my portion of it, about one-third I would say, was of reflective lyrical music beautifully sung by baritone Michael Nagy, and with some whimsical orchestral touches. Throughout, the broadcast sound was excellent.