Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra

Following a BART ride straight from Jeremy Denk's Berkeley appearance, I was in Davies Hall to hear the Dresden Staatskapelle led by Daniel Harding. Schumann's Manfred Overture felt exciting, dark & a bit brooding. From the first rapid chords, the orchestra displayed a burnished, blended timbre. The ensemble playing is incredibly tight but without being pointed. Solos never pop out but instead stay within the overall texture. The 4 stands of double basses face forward, & their prominence gives the orchestra a grounded sound.

In Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto, soloist Rudolf Buchbinder played with classical cool. His large hands never seemed to rise higher than the level of the keyboard. His playing does not move from climax to climax but instead maintains a smooth but taut flow. The 2nd movement was sustained & floating & very balanced. The strings provided a warm, uniform background. There was a smattering of applause after the 1st movement & an enthusiastic ovation by the audience at the end, with many people standing.

Maestro Harding conducted the Brahms 4 without a score. He is very active on the podium, staying ahead of the orchestra & giving lots of cues, though I imagine that this band could play just as precisely together without him. There were some froggy moments in the horns at the beginning, but I was still impressed by how well the brass blended with the rest of the orchestra. The final chord of the 1st movement just glowed. The strings played an astonishingly clean unison passage in the 4th movement. The symphony ended with the thrilling feel of energy under compression. The audience was impressed, standing, hollering & recalling Mr. Harding 3 times.

When I arrived at my seat at the beginning of the evening, I found Ced talking with the Opera Tattler, who gave us her positive report of that afternoon's Cyrano. I felt in good company, & none of us considered it unusual to attend 2 major performances in one day.

§ Great Performers Series
Daniel Harding and the Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra

Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra
Daniel Harding, conductor
Rudolf Buchbinder, piano

Schumann: Manfred Overture, Opus 115
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Brahms: Symphony No. 2

Sun, Oct 24, 2010 7:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

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