qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Berliner Weiße

For most concerts, getting to the Albert Hall for around 3pm guarantees you a spot in the first few rows - possibly on the rail. When the band is the Berlin Philharmonic, it's a bit different; I don't think I've actually queued quite that far back before. The stewards were - quite rightly - in full-on raffle-ticked-fascist mode to ensure fairness, and though I overheard an announcement that the gallery was sold out as I entered the hall, I ended up somewhat behind and to the left of the fountain with arena ticket 286 - though I observed from the person ultimately standing next to me that at least 100 further tickets, and probably more, had been sold.

The first half was Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, and from the off, the sound of the orchestra was distinctively warm. Sir Simon Rattle's hair is now rather white, and he looks a little like Einstein without the moustache, or perhaps an aged version of Alan Davies. The sound was a bit fainter than I'm used to, and in this work I'd have preferred a drier sound on the tympani, but still, it was an impressive performance.

The second half was Mahler's Symphony No. 1. I've seen this at the Proms before; it's a real favourite of mine, and as Rattle is such a Mahler enthusiast, it was guaranteed to be a special performance. Musically, it was an interesting link to the first half programme, as both symphonies build on an opening introduction of falling note patterns. Rattle's command of the orchestra was absolute, with desparately quiet pianissimo sections. In the slow movement, it struck me that one of the episodes interjected into the Bruder Martin round was quite plainy Klezmer-inspired - something I've never noticed before. In the outbreak of the finale, the (dual) tympani and bass drum did not always seem to be quite in sync, but this added to the maelstrom of this section of the piece. I would have liked to have been further forward in the arena, but this underlines the good fortune I have to be able to get such a place most of the time.
Tags: music
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