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Rilling with NSO

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Bach, Advent and Christmas Cantatas, Gächinger Cantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, H. Rilling
(Haenssler Classics, 2009)
Charles T. Downey, Helmuth Rilling returns to NSO with sweet gifts of Bach
Washington Post, November 25, 2014
Over the past decade, Helmuth Rilling has taken the podium of the National Symphony Orchestra every two or three years, generally for a grand choral work around Easter: Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” in 2012, Haydn’s “Creation” in 2009 and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” in 2006. And if the esteemed German conductor, now in his early 80s, has become associated with one composer, it is Bach, to whose music he returned in his latest program with the NSO, heard Thursday night at the Kennedy Center.

Rilling is often cast as a modern-instrument traditionalist on the levee that holds back the flood of historically informed performance ensembles. But his take on the opening work of this concert, Bach’s third orchestral suite, suggested that Rilling has been listening to his early-music colleagues and has even adopted their best ideas... [Continue reading]
National Symphony Orchestra
With Helmuth Rilling, conductor
Music of Bach
Kennedy Center Concert Hall


Gary said...

The singers were good, and the chorus was delightful, but otherwise the Rilling all-Bach concert was a disappointment. The orchestra was not crisp, or energetic, or disciplined. The brass (which is often the best part of baroque suites) seemed especially lackluster. Compared to superb recent baroque concerts by Akademie für Alte Musik (Library of Congress) and Les Violons du Roy (Strathmore), the orchestra almost reminded me of a (conservatory) student orchestra. I kept thinking "Did they not have time to practice? Are they tired or sick or hung over? Is this the first time they have played baroque music?" Like Simone Dinerstein's Goldberg Variations at Strathmore,it made me think "oh, THAT'S why some people think Bach is boring." I even considered leaving at intermission (but did not). Note: I love Bach and even went to Bachfest Leipzig 2012. So it was not because I'm not a Bach fan.

Anonymous said...

the Strathmore concert of Les Violons du Roy showed what textbook HIP means, as well as outstanding technical playing. But the music making was so lifeless, the whole affair was so drag and so boring that I was close to leaving at half time. Stephanie Blythe had the wrong voice for this, but injected much needed testosterone. As for Akademie für Alte Musik, they personify what is charitably called baroque - trash. Listening to them and their brethren I can't help thinking: "oh, THAT'S why some people hate baroque music!"

OK, we'll never agree on the merits of one performance or of a stylistic approach. But that's the point: different people hear their music differently. Could Rilling have phrased a little more imaginatively? Sure. Could the brass have been a little more bold? Certainly. But me, for one, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. A chacun son gout.