Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra 1 • Mariss Jansons
A Russian Pair of Sixes
A pair of Russian Sixes came from Mariss Jansons and his Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in their first of two Salzburg concerts: Shostakovich’s and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony each, related by their key (B minor), nationality, and number, but little else.
The lower strings of the BRSO opened the Shostakovich with that rare total cohesion that has its very own, immediately distinct sound. The effect was all the more impressive for the swift clip at which Jansons led the Munich orchestra into the performance on stage of the Grosse Festspielhaus, Sunday evening August 4th. Shostakovich (“DSCH”) under Jansons is predictably special, like no other composer in his repertoire*. That ability, which he has displayed with every orchestra he’s conducted Shostakovich with (see his splendid international DSCH-cycle for EMI!), comes in especially handy in the Sixth Symphony which is one of the less obvious creatures even amid DSCH’s heterogeneous symphonic output.
DSCH, Symphony No.6,
K.Sanderling / Berlin SO
After a straggler flute arrived on stage, the orchestra was ready to launch Tchaikovsky’s Sixth. This was a clean and carefully enunciated Pathetique, mercifully devoid of schmaltz, which suits this work (or at least my predilections for it) very well. The first movement was ferociously driven, and Jansons looked healthy, elegant, and was clearly in his element, which he always seems to be during Salzburg summers when he proudly, even vainly gets to show off his toy. The flute section was especially worth showing off; from principal to last chair an amazing bunch of players, without any hiss or extraneous air, virtuosic and rich in sound… That was all the more notable when compared to the Vienna Philharmonic from earlier that morning. The very grateful flute solo in the Shostakovich benefited from that as much as the piccolo parts in the Tchaikovsky. Only the twice slightly flubbing brass deducted a bit from the orchestra’s reputation as ever (coldy) perfectionist.