The Rest Is Noise opening concert, Saturday 19 January 2013 – press reviews

On Saturday 19 January, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Vladimir Jurowski opened the year-long The Rest Is Noise festival at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Together with soprano soloist Karita Mattila and baritone Thomas Hampson, the Orchestra performed an all-Strauss programme including the Dance of the Seven Veils and Final Scene from his controversial opera Salome.

Here’s what the reviewers had to say:

‘This may have been the official, lavish fanfare for the Southbank’s The Rest is Noise Festival, which if the hard sell hasn’t hit you yet is a year-long celebration of 20th century music in its cultural context and based around Alex Ross’s bestseller of the same name. For Jurowski and the LPO, though, it was very much through-composed programme planning as usual, though with a sweeping bow towards the festival theme of how modernism evolved as it did.’
David Nice, The Arts Desk

‘The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s conductor Vladimir Jurowski brought clarity without dissipating Strauss’s orchestral richness; the work [Also sprach Zarathustra]’s tonal palette and harmonic seesawing were both faultlessly laid bare. Jurowski’s fondness for swifter speeds added immensely to the excitement of it all.’
Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Also Sprach, in this context, can perhaps be seen as a last hurrah for 19th-century self-indulgence, though Vladimir Jurowski is too intelligent a conductor to give way to such immoderation, and his handling of the tone poem judiciously tempered the sensualism with its Nietzschean underpinning. The latter’s Apollonian and Dionysian principles are central to Strauss’s Four Early Songs, op.33, as Jurowski reminded us in perceptive comments from the side of the stage. All praise to the LPO, on excellent form here, for including these rarely heard songs in its inaugural programme.’
Barry Millington, Evening Standard

‘This first concert showed how big-thinking projects like this can certainly stimulate ear-opening programming, and exceptional artistry … The evening was a traumatic, thrilling and tantalising convulsion from one century to the another: for what happens next, watch this space.’ (5 stars)
Hilary Finch, The Times (subscriber access only)

‘And then Salome danced. And Jurowski opened all our senses, the monster orchestra so light on its feet, the voluptuous waltz so airborne, the feverish xylophone-driven conclusion giving only scant indication of the price this sexy, exuberant dance might exact … It wasn’t pretty but it was hair-raising and it – along with the rest of the concert – set the bar extraordinarily high for the year ahead.’
Edward Seckerson (blog)

‘[Salome] still shocks, and Mattila has a flexibility of voice and an understanding of the music which lets her reach every one of those extremes, bringing her character to life in front of your eyes. She brought the house down.’
David Karlin, Bachtrack

‘[Mattila] was a terrifying display of preening, slobbering, petulant heat, any vocal strain offset by the extraordinary physicality of her performance – you really couldn’t take your eyes off her. Crushed and crouched on the floor, Strauss’s and Oscar Wilde’s heroine had tasted the bitterness of forbidden love, and the audience went mad for her. How very satisfying.’
Peter Reed, Classical Source

‘Unstaged this may have been, but no staged performance could have been more electrifying.’
Michael Church, The Independent

‘From seven rows back, and even with his back to us, the control and precision with which Jurowski directs the orchestra and communicates the musical dynamics were grippingly evident. They played stunningly well throughout.’
Recitative (blog)

‘This performance [of Dance of the Seven Veils] was wonderfully judged by Jurowski I thought, in tempo, gesture and timbre, the players clearly relishing this bonbon and playing as a single machine … this was a performance of blazing power, and it was a wonder to watch Mattila as if possessed give so much of herself, presenting the most complete performance she could muster in that moment. Thrilling and awe inspiring.’
Capriccio (blog)

‘There is only one possible response to what we heard and saw – wow! Mattila looked stunning and sounded stunning, too, producing a range of steadily pitched and secure tone which belied rumours that her singing had become unruly of late. Here she was totally in command of her instrument … Her unforgettable tour de force was preceded by the purely orchestral Dance of the Seven Veils, conducted with rare refinement by Vladimir Jurowski, and graced by some particularly fine wind playing from the LPO.’
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

‘Jurowski and the LPO set the scene with an outstandingly delicate performance of the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ before Mattila returned for the final scene … a wild start to what is going to be a long musical journey.’
Richard Fairman, Financial Times (not online)

Blog by Villa Maria guest, The Wine Sleuth

Blog by Richard Lane, audience member

The Rest Is Noise continues this Wednesday, 23 January at Royal Festival Hall, when Sir Mark Elder conducts the LPO in a programme of Webern, Schoenberg and Mahler including Das Lied von der Erde. There are still tickets available – more details and online booking here.

Comments are closed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 109 other followers

%d bloggers like this: