Sunday, March 6, 2011

REVIEW: Angelika Kirchschlager with the Basel Chamber Orchestra (kammerorchesterbasel)

City Hall Concert Hall, Saturday March 5

Kirchschlager was fabulous, but the program was so-so…

This concert featuring Angelika Kirchschlager and the Basel Chamber Orchestra led by Kristjan Jarvi was part of the 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival. The weird thing was the concert was not full and I am not sure whether it was because there were not enough bookings or the Festival just made some ticketing errors as my friend who wants to get another ticket for his visiting mother was informed that it was sold out.

Jean Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela started the concert with the orchestra providing a lyrical performance with an eerie undertone. The choice for Martin Jaggi’s Trieb was obviously because he is a “Baselian”… and nothing else…

The best part of the evening came early with Richard Wagner’s Wesendonk Lieder. Instead of the Mottl orchestration, the evening used Hanze’s sparer and subtle arrangement, making the texture more private and intimate. As for Austrian Angelika Kirchschlager, she sounded WAY better than her recordings. Her lower registers have an attractive mellow creamy quality to them; while her higher registers, though a bit thin, never sounded forced. Most importantly, she got to the heart of the words.

The orchestra pull out all the stops for a stirring rendition of Kristjan Jarvi’s own arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Concert Suite. While it contains lovely music, I can’t help but feel that it was a tad bitsy. The short participation of Kirchschlager in this final piece is a disappointment; but it might as well be for the best, as the songs didn’t seem to suit her as well as the Wesendonk Lieder.

Angelika Kirchschlager with the Basel Chamber Orchestra (kammerorchesterbasel)

Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela
Jaggi: Trieb
Wagner: Wesendonk Lieder (arranged by Hans Werner Henze)
Grieg: Peer Gynt Concert Suite for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra (arranged by Kristjan Järvi)

Conductor: Kristjan Järvi
Mezzo-Soprano: Angelika Kirchschlager

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