Tonkünstler Orchestra, Musikverein

Schostakowitsch, Wagner, Strauss

The Tonkünstler Orchestra, conducted by Claus Peter Flor, opened its program in the Musikverein with Schostakowitsch‘s 15th Symphony, a sarcastic work in which he reviewed his own life and forebode his own death (although he lived another four years, this was his last major work).  During the fourth movement, shortly after the quotation from the Todesverkündigung in the Second Act of Wagner’s Die Walküre, a woman near the front waved in the ushers.  They waved in more ushers, and then carried out another woman’s body, which was scarily rather stiff.  I suppose if you are going to go, going in the Musikverein during a concert right after the annuciation of death is probably as good a way as any. (Word later was that she recovered.)

That woman’s timing was better than anyone else on the evening.  Flor kept missing beats and cues.  Michael Jurowski last week had this orchestra together during the very difficult Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto, but Flor obviously is not as talented.  Ironically, Michael Jurowski was the rehearsal conductor for the premiere of Schostakowitsch’s 15th Symphony back in 1971.

After the intermission came the Immolation from Götterdaemmerung, with Angela Denoke singing Brünhilde.  She is good, but again the orchestra wasn’t together.  Flor also had the balance all off, and was too loud when he should not have been, almost drowning her out at the softer moments.  The Tonkünstler rarely play Wagner (or operatic music in general), so this is unfamiliar territory for them, and Flor did not help.  At least no one died during the second half of the concert.  (Denoke gave us the song Zueignung by Richard Strauss as an encore.)