Music Review: Residentie Orkest and conductor Rouvali

The previous lunch concert my friend dragged me to and which had been such a severe disappointment a day earlier, was totally obliterated this afternoon. We attended a 30-minute dress rehearsal by the The Hague Philharmonic (or Residentie Orkest) and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. It was a short appetizer for their “Land of a thousand lakes” concerts of 13th and 14th of March 2015 – but what an appetizer this was!

I’m still reeling from the experience. The public were treated to the first and second movement of Tchaikovsky’s fifth Symphony. To recapture the mood and beauty of what I heard only a few hours ago, I’m listening to a rendering by the Wiener Philharmoniker and von Karajan, through YouTube.

The Wiener and von Karajan? That’s the top, you’ll claim. No, sorry: this YouTube interpretation honestly comes nowhere near what the Residentie Orkest and their Finnish  conductor managed this afternoon. I was glad it was dark in the hall, for tears streamed over my cheeks as they played their excerpt from this weekend’s program.

One wonders what heights they will reach playing Sibelius. For they will not only play the complete fifth Symphony of Tchaikovsky on Friday evening. On Friday and Saturday evening, they will actually focus on works composed by Jean Sibelius.

The orchestra and its young conductor managed to capture Tchaikovsky’s torture far better than the Wiener Phil and von Karajan. In their first part, one seems to hear not so much a funeral but a soul being rent to pieces and then being calmed again by occasionally soothing movements like a waltz or berceuse.

In the second part, what seemed like raw despair still contrasted beautifully with the far more subdued parts. Quite often, this orchestra can sound overpowering – but not with this conductor. Rouvali managed the orchestra brilliantly. Together, conductor and orchestra created a near-perfect interpretation. Undoubtedly, they will reach the pinnacle of perfection this weekend, as this was only a short dress-rehearsal.

The interpretation by the Wiener Phil and von Karajan sounds far too sugary sweet and kind; far too bland with not enough contrast between dark and light movements. The The Hague Philharmonic managed to play the quiet introduction like a whisper which contrasted with the overpowering melancholy and despair.

In the second part, the last few notes were quietly drawn out like a dreamy promise of hope and release. This was a promise which should be realised in the third and forth part, which weren’t played during this short concert.

In The Hague this Friday and/or Saturday? See if you can still obtain tickets for the  “Land of a thousand lakes” concerts by the Residentie Orkest (or The Hague Philharmonic) with brilliant conductor Santtu Matias Rouvali in the Anton Philipszaal. You certainly won’t regret the experience and will be left with one or even two unique evenings you’ll remember long afterwards.

Youtube Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony by Wiener Phil and von Karajan
Youtube Sibelius Valse Triste, Berliner and von Karajan
Youtube Sibelius Swan of Tuonela, Sondergard

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