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Berlin. Philharmonie. 25-I-2013. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): The Clemency of Titus: Overture, KV 621; Symphony no.40 in G minor, KV 550; Davide penitente, KV469. Jane Archibald and Ann Hellenberg , sopranos; Werner Güra, tenor. Rundfunkchor Berlin, choirmaster: Simon Hasley. Berliner Philharmoniker, conductor: Louis Langrée.
For any conductor, being invited by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert in its own hall, in a subscription concert is always a feat which made you part for to an exclusive club, a Champion’s League, so to speak. If French conductors have always been highly on demand abroad (while they struggle to find adequate positions in their home country) few have made it to the podium of this legendary orchestra. With his engagements at the New York Met and La Scala in Milan, in addition to leading the Camerata Salzburg and the Cincinatti Orchestra, Louis Langrée’s career is impressive. Beginning with an all-Mozart program does seem a natural choice for his first concert in Berlin, as he ranks among the best interpreters of the composer.
As soon as the overture to La Clemenza di Tito starts, we hear Mozart’s music played with a theatrical quality but never fundamentally rushed or coarse: the drama flows spontaneously. Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 is always a moment of truth for a conductor and an orchestra – how many conductors venture to play it live? – and Langrée urges upon us an energetic, airy interpretation, illuminating the work by emphasizing the solidity of its architecture. The musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker are shaken up under a baton that makes the strings breathe and unclutters the woodwinds’ phrasings. And thanks to the mythical acoustics of the hall, we don’t many any of the instruments and dynamics. Mozart has an instrumental dream team at his service: Guy Braunstein at the piano, Albrecht Mayet on oboe and Emmanuel Pahud on flute. We cannot but admire this orchestra and its technical precision, the accuracy of its attack, its range of hues, the fullness of its strings.
The cantata Davide Penitente can rarely be found onstage or on music shop shelves, but it passes the test admirably here, supported by its balanced structure and a remarkably appealing vocal writing. Langrée is leading with a perfect theatrical sense. The distribution of singers is homogeneous, with soprano Jane Archibald’s tone and musicality making her standing out. The Berlin Radio Choir, admirably prepared by Simon Hasley, possesses as usual a remarkable consistency and projection.
This outstanding performance will remain in our memories, and we can only hope to see again soon the French conductor onstage with the Berlin musicians.
Crédits photographiques : Louis Langrée © Benoit Linero