Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest with Kasarova and Ticciati (Bozar, Brussels, 16-11-14)
I think we all agree that routine is the death of the soul (cue in tuba solo). In spite of all the good stuff I had seen of late I’ve been feeling out of sorts. Maybe too much of a good thing, you’ll say. Maybe. But rationalizing never truly made anyone feel better.
When thadieu said to me on Thursday “yo, VK is singing La mort de Cléopâtre with Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam, Brussels and Vienna this week and next” I initially said to myself “can’t do it, too short notice”. But then I thought “bollocks to the short notice, I miss bloody VK and Cléopâtre is a badass work.” So I promptly sweet talked the boss into figuring out how he would cope without me today (Sunday) and it was “hello, Brussels!” this morning 😀
Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande
Berlioz: La mort de Cléopâtre
Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales
Debussy: La mer
Long story short, this was a Concertgebouworkest showcase which initially featured Garanca on Cléopâtre. VK took over when EG dropped out. Unlike some, I’m not usually fussed by straight up orchestral music but I do like some stuff. I was perfectly entertained by what was on the menu, especially the Debussy.
Let’s just say Concertgebouworkest sounds particularly fine. Thadieu, speaking of lovely (and robust) cello and upright bass sounds – oh, yea. I’d say the rhythm section rocked but that would belittle the efforts of the others of which I particularly liked the flute solos. The whole thing is a well oiled machine that produces gorgeous sound from every side.
The winds also got my attention during Cléopâtre, as I think VK’s voice meshes particularly well with them. I really need to see VK more often than once every couple of years. I don’t know exactly what it is but I just love listening to her voice. It’s buttah. At some point (during the mezzo – winds dialogue) I was simply basking in the sound, eyes closed, grin on my face. The woman knows how to work with an orchestra and it was very entertaining hearing their exchange. Wish there was more. There are such cool ideas in this piece, I love the structure. There used to be a time when I didn’t like either Berlioz nor VK. How things change…
Not sure how well young Ticci knows how to take care of his singers, though. I saw him this summer conduct the Glyndebourne Rosenkavalier where he didn’t refrain from drowning his singers, although he did occasionally fish them back. Neither did he go easy on VK. Now VK’s voice size isn’t tremendous but not particularly easy to drown. He still managed to do so during the most dramatic bits. Luckily some pianissme still made it through. But I wouldn’t say it was the most dramatic reading. In fact, the whole concert, aside from sounding beautiful, was rather low on drama (even La mer), though it got noisy enough. But so was Der Rosenkavalier. Pacing and subtlety is good, eh?
Now a snarky word about the Bozar Centre. Not so “beau”, mate. Yo, firstly your site sucks. I could not register for love or money (especially not for money, which I was ready to throw at you). Secondly, dude, €2.5 for a (small) glass of water? Thirdly, are you calling that pitiful stand with 3.5 kinds of drinks in what looks like an empty warehouse (not the Shoreditch kind) a “bar”? Fourth, your exactly 4 toilets, “conveniently” situated at the back of said empty warehouse – get them cleaned sometime, a’right? Fifth, why is the box office across the street? The girl manning it was lovely and very pleasant, though 🙂 And the Chinese kung fu students photo exhibit (between the warehouse space and the toilet area) was weird but rather interesting. The whole thing felt like a ’70s East German Kulturhaus. But the public was laid back and even youngish. Maybe it’s a continental thing. I don’t think I’ll complain about the Barbican ever again… until next time 😉
ps: Brussels is lovely. I’m going to La Monnaie in the morning, maybe I can figure out why February’s Monnaie Alcina and Tamerlano are apparently on stage (with the same cast) at the same time as Amsterdam’s. Who knows, they might have figured out bilocation… (edit 19/11/14): turns out I was seeing things. Their Handel double bill is earlier in the month but goes on sale later than the Amsterdam shows…