Date: June 29 2012
WAGNER AND STRAUSS
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Angela Denoke, soprano
Melbourne Town Hall, June 27
JUDGING by the number of young folk queuing to collect tickets many of the original ticketholders to this concert had opted for a refund rather than see Angela Denoke, the late replacement for Deborah Voigt. And fair enough. If you've paid for a first-class seat on a plane, being bumped to business class for the same price would smart. But those who came heard a night of sumptuous music.
The program's first half, devoted to Richard Wagner, opened with the splendidly controlled, far-off forest calls of the french horns in the Tannhauser overture. Conductor Sir Andrew Davis' leisurely pace drained some of the vigour but the cascading waterfalls of hard working strings still worked their Norse-myth magic.
Angela Denoke - tall and willowy in off-the-shoulder, figure-hugging purple velvet - sang a bright and joyous Du bist der Lenz from Die Walkure before Davis drew out a slowly surging Tristan und Isolde prelude finishing with a satisfying Liebestod climax, sensitively sung. Special mention to the sweet work of the oboes and associate principal Vicki Philipson in particular who slumped at the end with a huge sigh of relief.
Davis danced (waltzed?) his way through Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier suite and pushed and pulled the orchestra along with him in a spirited display of tempi, emotions and styles.
The final scene from Salome had the MSO in top form. Denoke gave a thrilling account of Salome's psychopathy through gesture - frowning, panting, stooping, clawing - and vocally, with pianissimo growling of the extreme low notes, cold and chilling top notes and a pointed shout spat at the severed head of John the Baptist, ''Ich lebe noch, aber du bist tot'' (I am still alive, but you are dead).
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