Sunday, February 20, 2011

Toby Spence and Das Lied

Wonderful concert last night at the Festival Hall, with the LPO conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The first half was the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Stefan Jackiw violin and Richard Yongjae O’Neill viola. Nézet-Séguin is a very enthusiastic and inspirational conductor, and the soloists are deeply accomplished. O'Neill in particular had a very profound sensibility. Although very fine performances, for some reason they didn't quite gel into the indefinable mystery of a great one: I wonder whether they had spent enough time together, and there seemed to be three subtly different conceptions of the piece.

Then Das Lied vob der Erde with Toby Spence and Sarah Connolly. This was really tremendous. Toby sang very much as the poet, as a large scale song cycle rather than in Operatic mode. You could really imagine him Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde holding up the drinking proceedings to reflect on mortality, "all the rotting trifles of the world" and the ape howling in the graveyard - Dunkel ist das Leben, ist des Tod! I'd just been listening to Sarah Connolly in her duets recording with Rosemary Joshua, so it was great to hear her in the flesh. Her magesterial Mezzo was well suited to the drama of Von der Schonheit. Toby was also very fine in Der Trunkene in Fruhling - although his voice of course is very different he reminds me of Ian Bostridge in the way he inhabits the words so intelligently. Maybe it's Oxford (and for that matter Jackiw studied at Harvard - a very Elite University concert!). Why I wonder didn't Mahler use both soloists in Der Abschied?

We saw Toby backstage afterwards but there was a delay since they decided to do some patches for the Mozart, and we both had to be up early today. We'll catch up over dinner later. He's doing Don Ottavio at Glyndebourne which we must see.

PS: Big article in the Mail by an author who has noticed what I and others have been saying for years. Scientifically, Christian belief and practice are very good for you. Scientific atheists can argue with integrity that the beliefs are untrue - wrongly in my view - but from a scientific PoV they are certainly not harmful!

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