Sunday, October 2, 2011
Die Wiener Philharmoniker
The heading above translates as "The Vienna Philharmonic" and it is one of the great orchestras of the world. You have to wait years in Vienna to get tickets to its performances so when they decided to tour Australia, Anne and I had to go along.
I was originally going to wear cords to the concert but Anne was most unhappy about me wearing such humble garb to such an expensive occasion so yesterday we went in to "down-low" Lowes at Mt. Gravatt where I bought myself a "Made in China" bag o' fruit. It was actually in charcoal grey with a chalk stripe, which was exactly what I wanted -- so Lowes can be surprising. But fancy China having taken over the ready-to-wear market for men's business suits!
So we toddled off to the concert earlier tonight with Anne in her Best Black and me in my Chinese suit. I hope it didn't LOOK Chinese. It seemed a reasonable sort of fabric but I dare not ask what fabric. Anne was pleased with the look of it so that was the aim of the exercise.
And the concert was worth all it cost. The highlight in my view was the opening work: Schubert's well-known and much loved "Unfinished". It is something of a favourite of mine so I was in a good position to judge the performance and it was far and away the most sensitive version I have ever heard. Quite wonderful.
The second work was Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which is essentially a series of Lieder, so I was cross with myself for not having prepared for the performance by reviewing the text at home first. It's a lot better if you know what the guy is singing about.
I wonder if I should say something about the name: Des Knaben Wunderhorn? It is quite commonly left untranslated and if it is translated, it is generally rendered as "Youth's magic horn". But that is not what it means at all. If it meant that it would be Des Jugends Wunderhorn. The literal translation is: "The boy's magic horn". So I think by now you can see the problem.
The third work was Beethoven's 8th so that was good from the opening moment on of course. The conductor was Christoph Eschenbach, whom I had never heard of but he studied under Karajan apparently and certainly knew his trade.
He and the orchestra got a standing ovation at the end of the programme so they played us an encore from Strauss: Die schoene blaue Donau if I am not mistaken. A very lively version it was too.
A great feast of Austrian music. And to my great satisfaction, the conductor didn't say a word. He just conducted. I hate it when conductors blather on beforehand. I go for the music and if that doesn't speak for itself it's not good music.
But I am still rather stunned that I was able to hear a small part of the greatest music ever composed in Vienna performed right here in Brisbane by Vienna's greatest orchestra. Their performance of the "Unfinished" is still ringing in my head. The whole concert was a 3-hour one but it seemed like half that time to me -- so engrossing was the music
The concert hall at QPAC is very impressive. It has recently been done up with very extensive and successful attention to the acoustics. So I felt glad to be part of a civilization that provides so magnificently for its people even in a small city like Brisbane.
There was a full house too, mostly mature to elderly as usual but with a surprising number of young people too.
Anne made me porridge for breakfast next morning, followed by croissants with apricot jam. Wotta gal! I have always liked my porridge but men of my generation don't cook.