Of Wizards and Giants

Rheingoldhalle Mainz
Sunday 13 October 2013
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Fabrice Bollon / Claudio Bohórquez (Cello)
Dukas – Saint-Saëns – Brahms


It’s been the second time for me to hear Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1897) live in concert this year and it seems I really can’t get tired to hear it over and over again. Brilliantly played by the Staatsphilharmonie, who captured every little nuance, this piece proved to be a great opener for an evening full of magical music – or so the theme Of Wizards and Giants augured.

The main attraction was surely the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 (1872), interpreted by Peruvian-born cellist Claudio Bohórquez. I had never heard the piece before (shame on me) and was completely enchanted by the light, positive music, the dancing rhythms and the faster, dramatic parts. One could even recognize certain motives that the composer used in Le Cygne from his Carnaval des Animaux in 1886. Bohórquez played with a good, expressive technique, his cello sounding soft and round at all times, but from time to time he seemed to lose his intonation a little bit.

As for the second part of the evening, there was some Brahms on the menu. Since I haven’t got the best relationship to Brahms, I wasn’t particularly eager to hear his First Symphony, but there were a few parts that made me listen closer and saved me from drifting off (I just want to state here that this has nothing to do with the orchestra or the quality of the music – it’s just that Brahms’s tunes seem endless to me, it’s just not my thing): First of all, the piece complemented the opening of the concert musically, there were certain passages that had the same dark, spooky character. Then there was of course the last movement, which started beautifully, and contained lots of pretty melodies. I especially loved the main motive which had such an uplifting spirit and was played superbly by the orchestra. Apart from some minor slips in terms of synchronicity and intonation, Fabrice Bollon conducted his Staatsphilarmonie with great empathy and enthusiasm. And who knows? Maybe next time I’ll feel differently about Brahms.


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