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In Performance: Local News and Reviews

In today's Washington Post:

Last night at the NSO: Creation Revels in Quiet Splendor, by Anne Midgette

Crosscurrents waft contemporary music through the Kennedy Center - and some of the best events are free. By Anne Midgette.

By Anne Midgette  |  May 1, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Washington , festivals , local reviews  
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Comments

I'm definitely going to see Ethel, maybe DBR and Ljova. Other than the Knussen chamber music concert, the for-money events don't really appeal to me.

As much as I love Haydn, "Creation" has never appealed to me, for some of the reasons you (Anne) discussed in your review.

On another note, I doubt this statement is true:

"Berg's quiet, high tones in the whirl before the moment when the light dawned, and Taylor's frankly gorgeous pianissimo as he sang of pure harmonies from heaven streaming down on the earth, were worth the price of admission"

when considering the cost of seats in which you can actually hear said moments musicaux with a reasonable amount of vividness. I generally don't think the NSO is very good value for money because so many of the seats have such distant, leaden sound. The critic (as I well know) does not have much exposure to this problem.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | May 1, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

While clarity in The Creation can certainly be welcome - depending, of course, on how it integrates with conductor's overall vision of the score - one should not forget that Haydn wanted big forces and was most likely little concerned with clarity. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, his orchestra was bigger than the chorus - at least at the Vienna premiere. Christopher Hogwood's recording allows us to hear the work with about the same size forces that the composer himself heard.

This emphasys of clarity and minimalism is not as much "authentic" as is a reflection of the contemporary esthetics in a world in which food with lots of fat is discouraged and in which one can see skinny models on the catwalk. Though it can produce wonderful results, it is also often abused - countertenors in Bach? I don't think so, and if I am not mistaken Handel prefered mezzos where castrati were not available. Furthermore, I could also be cynical and say that the minimalist approach to baroque music is encouraged by impresarios and recording companies who have less people to pay.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | May 1, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Just to add on what I said: I am generally a fan of Rilling and I will attend tonight's concert.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | May 1, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I heard the concert on Thursday evening, and in addition to what you wrote in your review, I was struck by several things.
The choir had a beautiful tone, and every note, even the fast ones, was clearly articulated.
I felt their diction was so good, I could write down the text, even though I don't speak German.
They were unbelievably responsive to Maestro Rilling, and so many of the singers had expressions of total joy while they were singing -- usually in chorus concerts there are only two or three singers who look like that, and this matched their performance.
It was so much fun watching Maestro Rilling during the concert. He had the orchestra and soloists set up so they were right next to his podium, and he conducted in their faces.
I felt like the wonderful soprano soloist preferred slower tempos than Maestro, so when she stopped singing he moved the tempos faster for the choir, orchestra, or other solosists.
I'm always amused in that work when the alto soloist walks out front at the begining of the final movement only to sing a few lines with the soprano. One imagines this was a Haydn practical joke, and wonders about the story behind it.
And last, but not least, many times during the concert, I cried from the sheer joy of experiencing superb music performed superbly.

Posted by: c-clef | May 5, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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