REVIEW: Concert by Dresden Staatskapelle!

REVIEW: Dresden Staatskapelle, conducted by Daniel Harding

  • Place: Louise Davies Concert Hall in San Francisco, California
  • Date: Sunday, October 24, 2010; 7 PM

The Dresden Staatskapelle possesses one of the most impressive musical traditions among the world’s great orchestras: its lineage of conductors includes Schütz, Wagner, Karl Böhm, and Herbert Blomstedt, among others. Under conductor Daniel Harding, the Staatskapelle presented a magnificent evening, featuring Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto (with renowned pianist Rudolf Buchbinder) with Brahms’s richly hued Second Symphony.

The Program was:

• Manfred Overture, Opus 115

• Piano Concerto No. 4

• Symphony No. 2

Robert Schumann’s overture opened the program, and it is an impressive, passionate work, filled with sound excursions that range from the massive full orchestral sound to great pianissimos. This, in fact, is the composition that Leonard Bernstein presented on that famous evening with New York Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, Bruno Walter became Ill and Lenny had to substitute. Bernstein’s great success that evening launched his career.

I like Harding’s conducting style, and his biography in the program book described his impressive accomplishments, given his young age of 35.

Next on the program was Rudolf Buchbinder, who played a very nice solo piano part on Beethoven’s 4th concerto. What a revolutionary work that was when it first appeared! Concertti of the day always began with an orchestral introduction which presented thr works principal themes. Not here! Beethoven let the piano begin and the orchestra joined late! I can just imagine how the stuffy Viennese audience felt that this was a complete “Skandal”! Buchbinder’s playing was sensitive and showed the pianist’s long experience in Europe as a recital artist and as a piano soloist. The concerto gave us all the colors, variety and mood variations that Beethoven included: My personal favorite was the slow movement’s quiet periods, which were very magical.

Brahms’ Second Symphony is a magical world in which I always see the depiction of Nature. The Orchestra was in great form, particularly in the strings, which produced a deep, lush, warm sound. I observed a huge Viola section, and I counted 12 viola players in the orchestra personnel listing. While the winds were also quite effective, I was disappointed in the Brass: the horns missed at least one spot in the Brahms, and the two trumpets had difficulty getting really quiet at the end of the first movement.

All in all, however, this was a very satisfying concert for me.

Here are Daniel Harding and the Dresden Staatskapelle in a video that is a tribute to Robert Schumann:


Tags: Concert review, Dresdner Staatkapelle, San Francisco

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