Friday, 10 June 2011

Concert Review: Elisabeth Kulman and Amarcord Wien

Friday afternoon, I walk through the streets of Graz. Then I see a poster with an announcement of a concert for this evening: Songs by Mahler. I HAVE to go. The ticket office is already closed, so I will have to try at the evening box office.

After quickly eating one of those gigantic Wiener Schnitzel (which are usually at least two or three slices of meat) with fried potatoes, I rush to the Congress. And yes, they still have tickets. I take my seat. Then the performance begins.

I have never heard about Amarcord Wien before. Well, this just proves that I am a moron. Now I know what I have missed, and their performance will never leave my mind. The violin plays the melody. The bass gives the low pitch foundation. The cello plays the counterpoint melody. And the accordion provides the harmonic texture. And then Elisabeth Kulman begins to sing. And heaven opens its gate.

Absolutely unusual instruments for a performance of Gustav's music, but absolutely fitting. A wonderful play with the music, full of emotion and inspiration. Makes you forget that there is no full orchestra here. Elisabeth's voice is like a dream come true.

From "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen":
"Ging heut' morgen über's Feld"
"Die zwei blauen Augen"

Then from "Kindertotenlieder":
"In diesem Wetter"

Then the "Scherzo" from Symphony No.1. This performance by Amarcord convinces me that my version of this movement is indeed too slow: they play it like a typical Austrian country folk song in a quite lively tempo, and now I know that this is how it should be played.

Then from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn":
"Ablösung im Sommer"
"Lob des hohen Verstandes"
"Ich ging mit Lust durch einen grünen Wald"
"Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?"

After the break the program continues with the "Adagietto". The clear instrumentation with these four instruments begs for a more rapid tempo than many of the current lush orchestral recordings, and Amarcord delivers a very appropriately paced performance, lyrical, but keeping up the momentum instead of bathing endlessly in long passages. Well done1

Then from the "Rückert Lieder":
"Ich atmet' einen linden Duft"
"Liebst du um Schönheit"
"Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder"
"Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"
"Um Mitternacht"

They gave an encore: "Urlicht"
The applause did not stop, Elisabeth said "Wir sind etwas überwältigt", and since they did not have another piece, they played again "Ging heut' morgen über's Feld".

A wonderful evening - I am so glad that I saw that poster and did not miss this concert!