The February concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado included two romantic German works which, despite their beauty, have never really been at home in the concert hall. Nevertheless they seem to be close to Abbado?s heart as this is not the first time he has conducted them in Berlin. The Wanderer has heard Abbado conduct the Mendelssohn in Vienna, Salzburg and Berlin already, but was thrilled at being given the possibility of hearing this symphony again.
After the exhilarant performances of the Chorfantasie at the Easter Festival last year it was naturally difficult to live up to expectations. But by the end of the series of performances they had done it again! The Chorfantasie is no great piece of music, by normal standards, but a very beautiful one, full of joy, vitality and optimism. Turning to the Mendelssohn the comparaison is of course quite a different one. Twolf years on the chosen size of the orchestra is now a smaller one, the tempi are quicker, but the love of this music which emanates from the conductor?s face is just the same as ever and bowls you over.
The Schumann a few days later was quite another matter. The work itself does not grow on you so easily. The Wanderer must admit at not being impressed by the first evening. The artists were all excellent and went to a lot of trouble, but somehow nothing was transported. The second evening was better, but here the orchestra seemed somewhat lacking in concentration (due perhaps to the death of Günter Wand, which seeped through just before the beginning and which would be an ample explanation). As a result the Wanderer did not expect too much of the last evening and then the miracle happened once again. Just as with ?Parsifal? last year this last performance was just impossible to describe and too incredible to be true. There were no lenghts to it, no non-commital singing or playing. Everything was full of life, sparkling, desperate when needed and absolutely passionate. A triumph! Words just fail me. The Wanderer will always hear this music with a different feeling from now on.