Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Jurowski review – vividly pictorial | Classical music – Gündem Haberleri

Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Jurowski review – vividly pictorial | Classical music

The Bayerisches Staatsorchester (Bavarian State Orchestra) celebrates its half-millennium this year. That’s right: 500 years old – a symphony orchestra dating back to before such things existed, if you accept there being an unbroken line between the musicians at the Munich court in 1523 and the disciplined body of players making the Barbican’s beams ring here in the first of a pair of concerts with their music director Vladimir Jurowski.

On the way the orchestra has inspired many composers, not least Wagner, and they nodded to this with their encore, the prelude to Act 3 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It had a sense of profundity that was almost devotional – a feeling heightened by the fact that so much of what had gone before was so vividly pictorial.

The picture at the start had been more of a blank, white expanse. White Interment by the Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva, here receiving its UK premiere, evokes the feeling of being trapped by an avalanche. The opening, with oboe dovetailing into flute and then trumpet over a cushion of strings, sets up interesting interplays of timbre that aren’t quite followed up later on, when it slips towards stasis until a hint of birdsong and a sudden high trumpet suggest rescue.

A stranger and more complex beauty was at play in Berg’s Violin Concerto, a heartbroken memorial to a friend’s daughter, dead at 18. In the slow waltz of the first movement the soloist Vilde Frang painted a picture of a poised girl treading carefully as she danced. In the headier second the clouds cleared for the Bach-style chorale, touchingly played by straight-toned clarinets. Frang, thoughtful and magnetic, had to fight through the orchestra at times but was never quite subsumed by it.

If Jurowski had the orchestra on a leash volume-wise earlier, they were off it for a massive, Technicolor performance of Strauss’s Alpine Symphony. The initial string melody strode off up the slopes and never looked back. Jurowski revelled in the sound effects of the waterfall, all tumbling harps and twittering cymbal, and the percussionist tasked with cranking the wind machine had a field day in the storm episode. It was loud, unfailingly precise and hugely enjoyable.

Further concert on 19 September.

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