walkure tanglewood thunderous

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lennygoran
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walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:42 am

Review: ‘Die Walküre’ Brings the Thunder to Tanglewood

Andris Nelsons conducted the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, a trainee ensemble, in Wagner’s “Ring” opera.

By David Allen

July 30, 2019

LENOX, Mass. — Richard Wagner put an obsessive amount of effort into portraying the natural world in the “Ring,” both in his music and how he wanted it staged. Rivers run and rainbows shine in “Das Rheingold.” Forests rustle and murmur in “Siegfried.” And in “Die Walküre,” the second of the four “Ring” dramas, storms howl and rage.

Real storms, if you were at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in the Berkshires here, on Sunday. As the Valkyries saddled up and the conductor, Andris Nelsons, settled down to open the third act of a perfectly solid concert performance of “Die Walküre” that stretched over two days, a mighty thunderclap crashed around the hills with impeccable timing and grandeur.

Not that the performers in this “Walküre” needed much help bringing the atmosphere — they needed more help bringing an audience to Tanglewood’s Shed, which was rather sparsely attended over the weekend. One or two Valkyrie helmets patrolled the grounds, but Wagnerians seem on the whole to have stayed away from this second step, two years after “Das Rheingold,”toward what we can hope eventually becomes a complete “Ring” from these forces.

Surely the crowd didn’t stay away on account of the cast. Christine Goerke was here, after all, in her glory. A soprano surely destined to be the dominant Brünnhilde for years to come, she sang here with commanding authority, surpassing delicacy and total commitment to the text. She is a singer of inordinate communicative gifts: Take the last “Hojotoho!” of her entry at the start of Act II, which was indomitable, devoted and even coy, all in four syllables.

I would walk through fire to hear her again, just as I would for the spectacular Sieglinde of Amber Wagner, overflowing with power and wrenching in her vulnerability. If the other singers could not match the intensity of these women, James Rutherford proved a fine, movingly human Wotan; Simon O’Neill, an ardent Siegmund; and Franz-Josef Selig, a smart Hunding, properly banal in his evil.

It was a courageous decision to set aside the might and manners of the Boston Symphony proper and hand this — arguably the main event of the summer season — to the trainee players of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. But what players these young instrumentalists are! Between 18 and 29 years old, and here for a couple months’ intensive instruction, they gave a furiously dedicated, technically adept performance.

Much of that was owed to Mr. Nelsons, no doubt. An accomplished Wagnerian, he apparently remains exiled from the Bayreuth Wagner Festival after a falling-out three years ago, and the “Ring” he was said to be in line to conduct there in 2020 has gone instead to a rookie, Pietari Inkinen. So the Boston Symphony gets the brunt of his Wagnerian efforts; its coming season at Symphony Hall includes performances of Act III of “Tristan,” with Jonas Kaufmann the star attraction.

In “Walküre,” Mr. Nelsons was on his usual, supple form, much as in “Das Rheingold.” Perfect was the pace, perfect were the balances, perfect was his support of singers who could easily have been overwhelmed. Exciting if rarely excitable, at its best this was simply gorgeous Wagner — the lavish lullaby with which Wotan lulls Brünnhilde to sleep being just one lush moment among many.

But on the whole, this was practical rather than visionary work — perhaps a little too practical. Much of Mr. Nelsons’ tenure in Boston has turned out that way, to my ears. He arrived at the start of the 2014-15 season to a good deal of fanfare and set out his approach in an interview four years ago: “I don’t want to change anything.” Mission accomplished.

There have been awards for recordings; there have been memorable performances, especially of opera; there have been premieres. Mr. Nelsons, still just 40, has succeeded in just the way this most stately of American orchestras must have hoped. On the evidence of the performances I have heard in Boston during his tenure, indeed, there can be few surer hands marking time today.

But a music director of Mr. Nelsons’ stature does not stand or fall on stability alone. If you’ve expected more — innovation, risk, the unexpected — your hopes may not have been met. At least not yet.

Die Walküre

Performed on Saturday and Sunday at Tanglewood, Lenox, Mass.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/30/arts ... eview.html

John F
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by John F » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:48 am

Allen's style is annoying, at least to me. "Perfect was the pace, perfect were the balances, perfect was his support of singers..." This is the 21st century, not the 19th. I haven't noticed his byline before, so maybe he's a stringer.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:54 am

John F wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:48 am
Allen's style is annoying, at least to me. "Perfect was the pace, perfect were the balances, perfect was his support of singers..." This is the 21st century, not the 19th. I haven't noticed his byline before, so maybe he's a stringer.
John the name sounded familiar to me so I did a search-his articles have appeared before-I noticed he did one on Pelleas a few years ago. Len

http://classicalmusicguide.com/search.p ... avid+allen

Beckmesser
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by Beckmesser » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:37 am

I was at Tanglewood last weekend and I thought the performances were terrific. Goerke was in better voice than she was during the Met's Ring Cycle in May, although some high notes come out sounding pinched. Maybe she was well rested before this engagement. Amber Wagner was a standout as Sieglinde.

I am perplexed by the last paragraph of the review:
But a music director of Mr. Nelsons’ stature does not stand or fall on stability alone. If you’ve expected more — innovation, risk, the unexpected — your hopes may not have been met. At least not yet.
I think it is pretty risky to entrust a score like Die Walküre to musicians in their 20s, many of whom had probably never heard the full opera before. I attended the open rehearsal with the orchestra on Saturday morning and I was impressed with Nelsons' influence on his young musicians (even though his facility in English is still somewhat limited).

The Tanglewood Music Center is an essential part of Tanglewood's mission. I think it must have been a wonderful experience for the young musicians to perform an ambitious work under a major conductor. It will look good on their resumes if they seek jobs in opera.

maestrob
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:21 pm

Those of us in the New York area will get a chance to hear the MET's Walkure this coming Sunday at 1PM on PBS. Some here have panned Philippe Jordan's conducting: I'm looking forward to hearing for myself.

John F
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by John F » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:18 pm

David Allen wrote:a music director of Mr. Nelsons’ stature does not stand or fall on stability alone. If you’ve expected more — innovation, risk, the unexpected — your hopes may not have been met. At least not yet.
That may be what Allen expects, and it's what some music directors of the past have offered, notably Koussevitzky and Stokowski. But others have met other expectations: great performances of great music. Allen may not think much of Toscanini and his ilk, but his stature certainly did not depend on innovation, risk, and least of all the unexpected. Whether Nelsons and the current crop of American orchestras' music directors are capable of that kind of achievement remains to be seen.
John Francis

barney
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Re: walkure tanglewood thunderous

Post by barney » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:04 pm

Nor is Inkanen entirely a rookie. He's done several rings, including two excellent cycles with Opera Australia in Melbourne in, iirc, 2013 and 2016. I went twice each year. His conducting was one of the highlights.

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