Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Phillip's Phantastic Phindings: Vienna, Part 2

14 Jan. 2013

Hallo und Grusse Gott!

It's Phillip again from Vienna, Austria! Overnight we got a lot of snow, but that didn't keep us from continuing on our epic musical journey!

Yesterday, we went to the Chapel of the Imperial Palace at the Hofburg for Sunday Mass. There, we heard the Vienna Boy's Choir sing Mozart's Coronation Mass in Latin, in conjunction with members of the (amazing!) Vienna Philharmonic. It was truly an inspirational experience with particularly personal poignancy, as I am a devout believer in Christ. In this special hall I could truly hear the voice of God, with the heavenly multitude in close company - it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. I could truly feel His spirit and presence.

Later that evening, we went to the jaw-dropping beauty of the Vienna Staatsoper to see a (4 1/2 hour!!) performance of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavelier. This classic high-society Viennese love story, told through Strauss' masterful combination of vocal and orchestra music and drama, was portrayed exquisitely by this Vienna opera company. I really enjoyed the musical aspects of this performance, for they were of the highest quality- as with the Vienna Philharmonic, every musical concept (vocal and orchestral) was covered nearly to perfection. It really was the best performance of an opera I have heard in a long, long while, and was truly worth craning my neck for from my side balcony seat.

Tonight, we once again visited the majesty of the Musikverein to see the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in action. My goodness, what a program! A fantastic performance of Beethoven's Egmont Overture (from a suite of incidental music for the the namesake play) helped to set the high benchmark for the rest of the concert. Certainly this benchmark of expectation was meant to be raised... the orchestra + masterful soloist's performance of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat (especially the familiar strains of the third and final movement, my personal favorite) was certainly worthy of applause. After intermission, we were exposed to a more modern piece, featuring the trumpet soloist, accordion, and banjo. This really wasn't my favorite of the night, but I do have to give props to the trumpeter for his extraordinary, virtuosic technique. Following that, we had the fortune to once again listen to Beethoven's 7th Symphony, allowing us to compare this performance to that of the Vienna Philharmonic's. Using Beethoven's popular symphonic framework, I noticed marked differences in tempo, tone/timbre, dynamics, and general style. It was intriguing to hear and compare... though it may be the same piece, no two ensembles (and even performances by the same group) are alike. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra's concert was every bit as good, just different and wonderful in its own way.

Next time 'round, I will report on Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Volksoper (on Tuesday 1/15) and the Szymanowski String Quartet at the Konzerthaus (on Wednesday 1/16).

'Til next time, "Tchuss!"

- Phillip

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