I’ve been telling people just how exceptional the orchestra of Welsh National Opera were during their performances of The Cunning Little Vixen by Janáček. Though they are always exceptional, it is under the baton of Czech conductor Tomáš Hanus that they bring forth a deep consideration of the music of his homeland.
The orchestra would continue to Czech their privilege (sorry) with a concert of Smetana and Dvořák, with an appearance from Debussy thrown in for good measure. They made mince meat of Vltava from Má Vlast by Smetana. Though well know today, you might have heard it in the film The Tree of Life (with a soundtrack made up of excellent musical choices) or perhaps an advert, the piece is an exquisite little gem. The watery mood never wains as we venture down the river Vltava, the strings being centre piece here, unbounded in melody, resulting in a stirring encounter.
To be honest La Mer by Debussy I could take for leave. Yet, hearing the players here bring such a mighty execution that I dare say it won me over. You could really appreciated the nuances of the orchestration, shimmering and murky when desired. The hold of attention might not always be there when listening, but here WNO orchestra made it worth every second. Perhaps it’s time this sadly critic be won over by La Mer and not just listen to his Danses Sacrée et Profane over and over.
In an ambitious second half, Daniel Müller-Schott gave a stirring rendition of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. His slight appearance and deep understating of his instrument made for an electric encounter. The ear worm melody which permeates the first movement is simple yet make a clear impact on the entire work, a good three-quarters of an hour, grand for any concerto. The slow second movement was heartfelt and also generous in its emotionally honesty. Müller-Schott’s appearance in Cardiff wasmet with great excitement and an encore of Ravel’s Habanera made for a prickly listen, filled with Latin passion and a solemn artistry.
The International Concert Series continues with the Prague Symphony Orchestra performing Mahler’s 3rd Symphony on Friday 8th November 2019 with Ester Pavlů along with Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, Cardiff Bach Choir and Swansea Bach Choir.
Photo Credit: Uwe Arens, KD Schmid Website