BBC Symphony Orchestra/Bĕlohlávek – Wagner & Bruckner

Parsifal – Prelude to Act I; Good Friday Music
Mass No.3 in F minor

Katherine Broderick (soprano)
Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano)
Robert Murray (tenor)
Matthew Rose (bass)

BBC Symphony Chorus

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jiří Bĕlohlávek

Reviewed by: Alex Verney-Elliott

Reviewed: 30 April, 2009
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Jiří BĕlohlávekJiří Bĕlohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra opened this beautifully balanced programme with rather routine and bland performances of the ‘Prelude’ and ‘Good Friday Music’ from “Parsifal”. The former lacked spacious grandeur; the playing was without serenity and power, breadth and depth, the brass lacking sheen, and the cellos and double basses barely audible. ‘Good Friday Music” was bland.

In the concert’s second half, Bĕlohlávek conducted a perfectly paced performance of Bruckner’s underplayed and underrated “Mass in F minor”. What let the performance down was the balance between orchestra and chorus, the former being drowned out by the latter and not helped by the congested acoustics. The BBC Chorus was in incredible form but unfortunately was far too loud and often obscured both soloists and orchestra.

The ‘Benedictus’ was the most moving moment of the evening despite violins that were rather coarse-toned and cellos producing an acidic sound. The four soloists were all exemplary and integrated wonderfully with one another, Katherine Broderick sounding particularly radiant. Had the Chorus been less overwhelming then this would have been a much more heavenly experience!

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