LSO/Haitink Felicity Lott – Mozart & Richard Strauss [Ein Heldenleben]

Symphony No.25 in G minor, K183
Das Rosenband, Op.36/1; Wiegenlied, Op.41/1; Ruhe, meine Seele!, Op.27/1; Freundliche Vision, Op.48/1; Die heiligen drei Könige, Op.56/6
Ein Heldenleben, Op.40

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 17 June, 2008
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Bernard HaitinkIn the second of two Mozart and Richard Strauss programmes, Bernard Haitink reduced the LSO to a chamber orchestra for the Mozart symphony, a beautifully blended performance, purposeful and immaculately tailored. This music can yield greater drive, danger and expanse – and edgier timbres – but Haitink’s civilised approach was convincing, even in the Andante, which however fleetly taken lacked nothing in expressive candour.

Dame Felicity LottDame Felicity Lott was in wonderful voice, and was given an orchestral accompaniment to match, in renditions that were balanced between the art of singing and the narratives of the songs themselves, a well-chosen selection, their radiance, voluptuousness and yearning vividly communicated without histrionics. The baleful-sounding brass intoning the opening of “Ruhe meine Seele!” and the soulful violas, cellos and double basses initiating “Die heiligen drei Könige” will stay in the memory, so too Lott and Haitink’s close rapport. “Morgen” was offered as an encore, a rapt envoi.

Haitink’s success with Ein Heldenleben was cohesiveness and clarity, given in one glorious sweep in which everything was related and seemed inevitable. This was as much a musical study as a subjective one in which deftness and lucidity were the orders of the day, the LSO responding with playing both dedicated and full of ardour. Guest Leader Sebastian Breuninger brought impulsive and imploring characterisation to the hero’s companion, joined by David Pyatt’s horn in the reflective final section, and Christine Pendrill’s contributions on cor anglais should be mentioned. This was an impeccable interpretation, with brass and percussion gratifyingly integrated (the ‘Battle’ scene studded with detail), admirable in its preparation and engrossing in its performance.

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