Sunday, April 2, 2017

concert review: Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Usually a visiting foreign orchestra brings out the expatriate/immigrant community in force, literally waving flags. I've been to concert halls full of Venezuelans, even Kazakhs. But apparently there are no Danes around here, because only about half an audience, and that an everyday one, turned up at Davies for this largely blonde orchestra and its Italian conductor, Fabio Luisi.

Too bad, because it was a good show. No Danish classical concert would be complete without a piece by national icon Carl Nielsen, and here it was his curtain-raising show-stopper, the Helios Overture, in which the sun rises, crosses the sky in a blaze of glory (Nielsen wrote this on a vacation in Greece, and couldn't get over how sunny it was down there), and sets, all in 12 minutes.

Wagner's Wesendonk Songs. Local favorite Deborah Voigt has a regal soprano, but even in quiet music Wagner's orchestra does his singers no favors, and as far as the lyrics were concerned it came out like this:
And a bounding, eager, excited Beethoven Eroica, an outstandingly dynamic performance.

Judging from the conversations I heard on the way out, everybody in the audience recognized the schmaltzy encore, but nobody knew what it was. "Was that de Falla?" No, it wasn't de Falla. "Was it The Merry Widow?" It wasn't The Merry Widow. It was, in fact, that hoary pops favorite Jalousie "Tango Tzigane", and the reason the Danish National Orchestra chose such an unlikely-seeming piece for its encore is because, in fact, its composer was Danish. Yes, he was.

As the last ovation died away, something happened that I'd never seen before. Virtually all the members of the orchestra hugged their stand partner.

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