Hvoslev, Mozart, Shostakovich: Hélène Grimaud (piano) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Eivind Gullberg Jensen (conductor) Grieg Hall, Oslo, 14.04.2010
Kjetil Hvoslev: Ein Traumspiel
W.A. Mozart: Piano Concerto Nos. 23
D. Shostakovich: Symphony No.6
A nightmare of cost overruns, stalled construction (a decade from the foundation until the opening in 1978, and 80 years of variously serious planning that preceded it), depressing architecture, and shoddy workmanship: You might think that Bergen’s Grieg Hall is a culture-architecture debacle in every way.
But even if raindrops pitter-patter into your white wine during intermission (with an average of 235 [!] days of rain in Bergen, that’s likely enough): once you make your way back along the raw concrete pillars to the amphitheater-style auditorium at the bottom of which, circus-arena style, sits the Bergen Philharmonic on a rough wooden floor, all is forgotten. Even close up front to the far left, in seats that would be modest if not outright horrible in many other halls, the amount of detail from all sections, but at the same time the level of homogeneity in the sound, was astonishing. And, more importantly, the sound of the Bergen Philharmonic adds significantly to this experience.
W.A.Mozart, Piano Concerto 23...
R.Goode / Orpheus
D.Shostakovich, Sys.1 & 6,
K.Sanderling / Berlin SO
The Mozart that followed with Hélène Grimaud was broad, without a particularly audible affinity for Mozart, but with leaden feet or wooden touch – but instead a deft way around the notes that let the appealing concert’s nature through without adding to it. Grimaud, neither as dashing as she was in Ravel in London (February) or as woefully out of touch as in her Beethoven in Munich (March), sounding slight muffled, fit right with the above. The standing ovations struck me in response to her reputation more than her delivery.
No matter, the best was yet to come: I’ve always found Shostakovich’s lopsided Sixth Symphony one of his harder nuts to crack, along with the 8th and 14th, for example. But in concert, under Gullberg Jensen’s hands and performed with real force and fervor, and in terrific sound from all sections (only the brass had a few experimental moments), this suddenly made sense: The Wagnerian lyricism of the long opening theme, the slowness, the many lacunae… the occasional searing bite… and all with the tremendous – indeed superlatively sonorous – string sound of the Bergen Philharmonic. Shostakovich does not bestow his usual drive (slow, but always ratcheting things up, unnoticeably) upon this movement, the ears are pulled along a much thinner, more tenuous string. Eventually the trills come out, like factory whistles calling to work… but the general temperament is still a lurch. The cor anglais, meanwhile, wails like in the finale of Tristan and Isolde. The Allegro is jocular but with sharp knifes and the concluding Presto explosive, loud, which got the woodwinds excited and brought the quality of the strings out again – by some measure the best I’ve heard in Norway, so far.