Main Lecture Hall Marburg
Sunday 30 June 2013
SSO Marburg, Ulrich Manfred Metzger / Joachim Pfannschmidt (Horn)
Dukas – R. Strauss – Tchaikovsky
Whenever the Studenten-Sinfonieorchester (SSO) Marburg gives its traditional end-of-term concert, it’s kind of a reminder for all students that yet another semester has passed and that all tortures are soon going to be over (for most of them anyway). For me, this concert was a farewell event. My studies are almost done, I’ve little more than two weeks left until my exams and I somehow wanted this concert to be very special.
Don’t get me wrong, it was. Interesting choice of programme (Richard Strauss’s seldom played Horn Concerto No. 2, Tchaikovskys beautiful Fourth Symphony and Paul Dukas symphonic poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), enthusiastic orchestra and the known commitment of conductor Ulrich Manfred Metzger – it was all there. Not sure whether it was because I was overly sensitive, but the first half of the concert, which started off with Dukas and then moved on to Strauss, was simply blank. There were more than small mistakes in the brass section during the Apprentice, and the violins seemed a bit blurred. The woodwinds were extraordinary though, especially the short appearance of the contrabassoon. I think that the piece, as it was interpreted by the SSO, lacked a bit of practice, and as I’ve heard them before I know that they definitely are able to do it – you’ll never know if they just had a bad day.
The Horn Concerto started of quite well, it being a really difficult piece – especially for the soloist, Joachim Pfannschmidt (picture above). He played with casuality which took the weight off the composition, but it obviously also led to some blotchiness in the quick passages. The orchestra did their best but was occasionally overchallenged, or so it seemed. At the end of the second movement the musicians were noticeably out of tune; the soloist paused for nearly a minute to drain his tubes, in my taste far too long a break between two movements (I might be a bit punctilious here, but I am part of the audience…) Though intonation got better in the third movement, some asynchronities occured from time to time, but on the whole it was a decent performance.
When the orchestra played the Tchaikovsky in the second half, something had changed. There was a certain lightness and one had the impression that the players were generally more concentrated. The coordination was there, the tension from before had vanished. Especially the fourth movement was simply overwhelming, thus people wouldn’t stop clapping for several minutes. The encore was traditionally a soundtrack, this time it was Harry Gregson-Williams’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which ultimately transformed the evening into the special event I had hoped for. Thanks, SSO, for the great moments you produced over the years.