One of the hallmarks of a top orchestra is the quality of the replacement conductors and soloists it can get on short notice. Granted, replacing Riccardo Chailly for four concerts of two programs—which is what the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra had to do this and next week— is near-impossible. At least since Chailly has reached the kind of unencumbered, matured wisdom that makes him an increasingly more interesting conductor. Quite the opposite of the kind that mellows into routine blandness with age and whose name usually starts with “M”. For the program with Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Mahler’s Lied von der Erde (that piece still being in local centenary mode) the BRSO got Eliahu Inbal; in the following program of Berio and Ravel, the stupendous David Robertson will step in without having to change the program.
|A.Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht et al.,|
H.v.Karajan / BPh
G.Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde,
L.Maazel / BRSO / W.Meier, B.Heppner
Heppner, almost trim by his standards, was in good shape. His voice has attained a piercing quality and an edge that is impressive and equally suitable to scaring small children. Hardened and loud enough to come through in even the most densely orchestrated bits, it is a voice no longer malleable, but not brittle, either. In the upper half of her wide register, Mlle. Stotijn’s flexible voice carries a little cloud of air before itself, which contrasts nicely with the otherwise sonorous character. Her ‘farewell’ was more beautiful than touching, much like the performance of Das Lied, and to some degree that of the Schoenberg’s preceding Transfigured Night. A sextet for large string orchestra, it is difficult to pull off and near-impossible to perfect. The BRSO certainly has it in it to do the latter—and achieved at least the former. More scrupulous detail might have allowed greater expressive warmth.