Tod und Verklärung, Op.24
Daphnis et Chloé – Suites 1 & 2
Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Reviewed by: Andrew Morris
Reviewed: 17 November, 2010
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
Less impressive was the first item, Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration. It’s a work that seems to lack a little of the distinctiveness of his later tone poems. There was little wrong with the London Philharmonic’s playing which achieved an admirable blend and silken sheen, but Kazushi Ono resisted shaping much of the music, leaving episodes such as the protagonist’s recollection of lost youth sounding rigid and robbing the transfiguration music of its transformative pull. There were fine solos, particularly from oboe and flute, but this performance struggled to shake off the feeling of routine.
Happily, the same quality of orchestral sound was matched with an altogether greater sense of purpose in glittering extracts from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. The whispering strings of the First Suite’s introduction impressed as much as the numerous wind and brass solos; the unfolding ‘Dawn’ of the Second Suite and its concluding feverish dance felt suitably integrated into the whole. This was a thrilling performance of one of music’s ravishing treasures.