Dresden Festival offers soothing Schubert, Schumann from Bavarian Radio Orchestra/Chorus
The weekend's lineup at the Dresden Music Festival, which opeend May 20 and runs through June 7, included a concert by the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam with hot-shot conductor Gustavo Dudamel and stellar pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, as well as a recital by pianist Gabriela Montero (of improvise-on-themes-from-the-audience fame -- she did one of those recitals in Baltimore this season). I missed those and other events, since they happened before I got here, but I just thought I'd mention them anyway. Gives you an idea of the variety at the festival.
Sunday night was to have been notable for an appearance by the always interesting conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. He was indisposed, however, and the podium was turned over to ...
young British conductor Daniel Harding. It still turned out to be a pleasant concert, held in the cavernous Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross), which boasts a boys choir with roots going back 700 years (there's something humbling about such statistics in an age when anything that has lasted even seven years is passe).
Anyway, Harding led the forces through a rapt performance of Schumann's deeply poetic Nachtlied and a nicely shaped, often glowing account of Schubert's Mass No. 6 in E-flat. I was delighted to hear the latter again just for the extraordinary musical ideas in it, especiallly the dramatic Sanctus that seems to point directly to Bruckner.
The Bavarian chorus made a superb sound, so warm and smoothly blended. Five excellent soloists contributed to the Mass,among them soprano Christiane Oelze and tenors Werner Gura and Markus Schafer, whose exquisite phrasing in the Et homo factus est passage was worth the trip. Throughout the evening, Harding was mindful of the substantial reverberation in the church, keeping tempos restrained so that lines didn't get swallowed up. Since I'm weird enough to love very slow music-making, I didn't mind at all.
Off to a confab with fellow critics and, later, more music.