fri 23/08/2019

Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Koenigs, St David's Hall, Cardiff | reviews, news & interviews

Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Koenigs, St David's Hall, Cardiff

Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Koenigs, St David's Hall, Cardiff

An idyll and a symphony, chamber music versus cathedral organs

Lothar Koenigs: A master at pacing as well as spacingChris Christodoulou
Popping up on royal wedding day from the Niebelheim where they spend most of their working life, the WNO Orchestra brought with them a birth-and-death programme: hatch and dispatch, rather than match. Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll was a thank-you present to Cosima for their baby son, born out of wedlock; Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony turned into an epitaph for Wagner when he died in 1883, though most of it was written while he was still alive but ailing.
Bruckner scored like the cathedral organist he had been, pulling out stops and pressing pistons, then letting rip

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I think Mr Walsh rather misses the point on the Bruckner . and I perhaps best leave his condescending comments on 'Valleys coach parties' until last. He admittedly describes Lothar Koenigs' Bruckner performance as 'majestic'. It was a heartfelt peformance of breadth, insight, beauty and splendour. But that is pretty all he tells us about what was, for the WNO orchestra, a towering achievement in (for them) unfamiliar repertoire. This was world class playing by any standard. I speak as having heard live performances of this work under Solti, Abbado, Haitink, Davis, Rattle, Masur and Tennstedt - to name but a few. Surely a compliment or two on the playing. both collective and individual might not have gone amiss. The sense of elation and pride amongst the players (and indeed the conductor) in the bar after the concert was palpable. It was sadly rather poorly attended (it was after all a Bank Holiday), but for those in the hall there was an overwhelming sense of experiencing something very special indeed. Their rapt silence throughout this long work was proof of this - and my word they showed the appreciation at the end. Yet Mr.Walsh seems to think a diet of wedding marches and the like might have had them flocking from the valleys and hence put more bums on seats (perhaps Meastro Koenigs might have been persuaded to accompany Max Boyce in some rugby songs!). No, contrary to what Mr.Walsh may think, Wales is not full of oiks and cultural Philistines who merely 'like what they know'. The Cardiff audience is largely a loyal and discerning one - and quite as capable of enjoying Bruckner as any on the English side of the Severn Bridge.

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