Golden Hall, Musikverein
Joseph Haydn: Symphony in A-Major, “Fire Symphony”, Hob. I:59
Max Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G-minor, op. 26
Igor Stravinsky: Firebird-Suite (1945 version)
Daniel Hope (violin)
Tonkuenstler Orchester Niederoesterreich, Andrés Orozco-Estrada (conductor)
(© John Sobek)
Vienna, with its population of roughly 1,7 million, is home to an astounding number of fine orchestras. Of course, the Vienna Philharmonic comes to mind first, but there are other excellent ensembles, each serving its own audience and program niche. One of these marvelous orchestras is the Tonkünstler Orchestra, based just outside Vienna in Lower Austria. In addition to concert cycles in neighboring Austrian cities, the orchestra also has its own subscription series in the prestigious Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. The colorful history of the Tonkünstler Orchestra can be traced back to the times of Mozart and Haydn. Their programming has always focused on the evergreen staples of the symphonic literature. The Tonkünstler Orchestra was the first to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder in 1913. Their family-friendly Sunday afternoon concert series – a long standing tradition – and their popular programming is ideally suited to introducing the uninitiated to classical music.
Under the motto “Fireworks” this concert opened with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 59, nicknamed “The Fire Symphony”. Despite its high number in the Hoboken classification, the symphony is early Haydn and owes its name probably to the fiery, spirited first movement. Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada inspired his Tonkünstler Orchestra with his extroverted Latin American temperament and sunny personality. The orchestra responded to him with crisp and fresh sound. The fanfares that open the 4th movement of Haydn’s No. 59 are certainly a challenge for any orchestra’s horn section. The Tonkünstler’s hornists mastered this opening with bravura and perfect intonation.
D. Hope (© Felix Broede/Deutsche Grammophon)
Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 is one of the first “real” concertos that millions of young fiddle players try to tackle after having worked their way up through countless Kuechler and Seitz concertinos. This hasn’t been always to the advantage of this great work of the violin literature. British violinist Daniel Hope had the difficult task of trying to breathe new life into this somewhat over-played composition. With his keen intellect he re-shaped some phrasing from the 1st movement. However, his wide and slow vibrato together with some rather heavy slides did not make for a convincing interpretation. In the Adagio, the Tonkünstler Orchestra was able to showcase its enormous “Spielkultur” and warm sound, providing beautiful support for Hope’s long-spun lines. As far away removed as this movement was from the evening’s motto – it reminded one of sitting around a cozy, crackling campfire – the fireworks did break out in the Finale. Hope and Orozco-Estrada took the Allegro energico marking literally and delivered a robust, energetic reading.
Daniel Hope responded to the friendly applause from audience and orchestra with Maurice Ravel’s Kaddish. Hope dedicated the Ravel encore to the memory of German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who had passed away the day before. The piece thus took on a special spiritual dimension.
The most colorful fireworks were reserved for the second part of the program: Stravinsky’s Firebird-Suite in the 1945 version. Orozco-Estrada displayed an extraordinarily sure sense for tempo and timing. He worked out the textural richness of this masterpiece of 20th century orchestral literature with careful attention to detail. The solo flute was outstanding and the horn section sounded truly magnificent. The majestic Finale concluded another successful concert season for the Tonkünstler Orchestra under its Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada.
Orozco-Estrada and his musicians performed the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana as encore, showing off, once again, the world renowned, hallowed acoustics of this Musikverein Golden Hall.