Friday, August 21, 2015

Wonderful Nielsen and Brahms Prom

 A lovely Prom last night, mainly Neilsen but some Brahms and some ... well we'll see.

The Danish National Symphony Orchestra was over under their excellent conductor Fabio Luisi who is music director of the Met. They began with a lovely Nielsen piece called Helios evoking the sunrise and eventually sunset over the Aegean. In the words of Psalm 19:

In the heavens he has set a tabernacle for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his chamber,
 and rejoices like a champion to run.
It rises from the far end of the heavens
and runs its circuit to the end again;
 and nothing’s hidden from the heat thereof.
Then we had an excellent performance of the Brahms violin concerto by Nikolaj Znaider, with a candeza by Heifetz (I remember years ago seeing this rather wonderful film with him playing himself). After rapturous applause Znaider came in for an encore and said "this will make some people angry, and other people very happy. The BBC have asked me not to play Bach, but I shall play Bach. He then played the Sarabande. Of course - anything else immediately after the Brahms  would be a come-down.

In the second half we had three unaccompanied motets by Nielsen and then an extraordinary and very moving work -  Hymnus amoris for Chorus, soloists and orchestra. This was inspired by Nielsen's wife, and the words were originally written in Danish but translated into Latin for the setting. It was inspired by this Titian which Nielsen and his wife saw on their honeymoon. Beginning with children (we were born from love, we grow up in love) and then mothers (you were born from love, you grow up in love) it finishes with old men and women. Really delightful and inspiring. The Sop Soloist was Anna Lucia Richter who "descends from a family of professional musicians" and I wonder if that includes the great Sviatoslav Richter (for whom Britten presumably wrote the cadenzas we heard the previous night) - I suspect it does, though the web is coy. Richter's mother was called Anna. I only heard him live once, in Kings College Chapel, and he played the Hammerklavier with, as an encore, the entire last movement again! 

Then Nielsen's Symphony No 2 The Four Temperaments which begins with tremendous gusto and was performed brilliantly. And finally as an encore A Dance of the Cockerels - from Masquerade. What an evening! I must listen to more Nielsen.

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