Notes and Editorial Reviews
There were some unusual elements in three Philharmonic evening performances in March 1984. In the Berliner Morgenpost Klaus Geitel described this as 'a concert to be placed, on several counts, in the very highest category: a brilliantly coherent programme with a strong strain of novelty; a soloist of towering but lightly-worn mastery; a conductor at the summit of his musical and communicative abilities.'
Tennstedt opened with Modest Mussorgsky's A Night on the Bare Mountain, the fantastic and garish musical portrayal of a witches' sabbath. This was not the version normally heard, namely the distorted adaptation by Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov, but the essentially rougher and wilder original. 'The heartfelt exuberance of his
expressive power, often discharged with hectic gesturing, spurred the orchestra on to dynamic contrasts and pungent tonal qualities which are not to every listener's taste. The power of his fortissimo entry was startling; the composer's unbridled genius makes considerable demands on the orchestra in the depiction of the witches' sabbath, producing an overpowering infernal palette of sounds such as Berlioz himself could not have deployed more jarringly.' (Walter Kaempfer in the Tagesspiegel)
Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto took second place in the programme. Horacio Gutierrez, the soloist, was born in 1948 in Havana, Cuba. Resident in the USA since 1961, he graduated from the Juilliard School in New York and won the silver medal at the 1970 International Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. His G minor Prokofiev Concerto with Tennstedt was secure and refined, full of dynamic contrasts and tonal colour. He 'revealed the pompous intelligence of this work, its witty muscularity, with astonishing delicacy and a technical facility full of power and yet able to achieve the most impressive heights of virtuosity without detectable overexertion.' (Klaus Geitel)
The excitement was maintained through the second part of the concert in a performance of Dvorák's Ninth Symphony in E minor. Klaus Geitel's review in the Berliner Morgenpost praised the 'musicianly logic of Tennstedt's reading, its emotional coherence and thoughtfulness, and its energy, masterfully reflected by the brilliantly responsive orchestra.' Geitel's colleague Walter Kaempfer was less wholly enthusiastic: 'While the orchestra maintained its customary excellent standard in the lyrical portions, as always in the tone quality of the woodwind and strings both in tutti and concertino sections of the work, still there were other places which to my taste were overblown and mannered.'
As always, the recording of the concert vividly reproduces the excitement of the evening for today's listener, who will easily perceive the enthusiasm of conductor, orchestra and audience alike.
From the booklet notes © Helge Grünewald, 2010
Works on This Recording
Night on the Bare Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1866; Russia
Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 16 by Sergei Prokofiev
Horacio Gutierrez (Piano)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1913/1923; USSR
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