Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Prelude to Act I
Four Last Songs
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64
Christine Brewer (soprano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 4 May, 2011
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
As a celebratory opening, and signalling a welcome return to BBC Radio 3 broadcasting concerts live again on a more-regular basis than in the last few years, Jurowski led a rousing and, as Wagner intended, swift opening to Act One of “The Mastersingers” (correctly identified by the LPO as ‘Prelude’ rather than the quite common if erroneous ‘Overture’), with some affecting lyricism along the way. Yet, in a too-bright and rather bass-less projection, the brass stood out rather than being embedded into the texture; nevertheless the rhythmic crispness and motivic interplay was a joy and bodes well for the forthcoming Glyndebourne production with this orchestra and conductor.
Christine Brewer and Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs” (settings of Hermann Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff) are synonymous, and this was a fully-seasoned account if one short of wonderment. It took Brewer a little while to settle intonation-wise into the opening ‘Frühling’ (Spring) and louder singing tended to be somewhat shrill overall, but balance was generally excellent, the singer not dominating the filigree orchestral details (very lucidly revealed on their own terms) in ‘September’, while the gravitas of ‘Beim Schlafengehen’ (On Going to Sleep) was fully explored, aided by a chaste violin solo from Pieter Schoeman, and ‘Im Abendrot’ (In the Sunset) had a poignant sense of farewell, always dignified and made the more touching by the flutes’ birdsong, a peaceful even radiant acceptance of things gone and about to come to an end.