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Martin Helmchen’s elegant artistry shone thru in Brahms’s First Piano Concerto in Dresden – Noticed and Heard World


GermanyGermany Dresden Tune Pageant 2023 [13] – 7.6.2023, Kulturpalast, Dresden: Martin Helmchen (piano), Dresden Pageant Orchestra / Ivor Bolton (conductor). (MC)

Ivor Bolton conducts pianist Martin Helmchen and the Dresdner Festspielorchester © Oliver Killig

Schubert – Symphony No.9 in C main, D.944 The Nice (1824/26)
Brahms – Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, Op.15 (1854/58)

Pageant highlights come thick and speedy. This live performance via the Dresden Pageant Orchestra, the pageant’s personal orchestra, was once performed as same old via Ivor Bolton, its indefatigable leader conductor. The Dresden Pageant Orchestra carry out with length tools, intestine strings and length bows, valveless horns, baroque trumpets and so forth.

A part of the pageant’s Playful Keys collection, this Kulturpalast live performance equipped the target market with a fascinating programme. We heard a couple of essentially the most well-known and far cherished of all works in the usual orchestral and concerto repertoire, particularly Schubert’s Symphony No.9 in C main The Nice and the Brahms Piano Concerto No.1.

The Dresden Tune Pageant is scrupulously controlled so I confess to being a little bit frightened when the live performance didn’t get started on time. The orchestra and target market have been looking forward to Bolton to go into the level. Perhaps he was once overdue? Perhaps he have been taken sick? Neatly, all changed into transparent when after what appeared like ages 3 trombonists, who one guesses have been held up via site visitors, gave the impression and took their position within the orchestra. Handiest then did Bolton input the level and step as much as the rostrum.

Perennially well liked by audiences and musicians, the hole paintings Schubert’s C main Symphony referred to as The Nice was once written in 1824/26. In the principle German audio system know the Symphony as No.8 the usage of the Deutsch numbering machine. English audio system know the paintings because the Symphony No.9 in C main, D.944. Recurrently referred to as The Nice, this name serves to differentiate the No.9 from his Symphony No.6 additionally in the important thing of C main.

Future ensured that after Schubert died in 1828, elderly simply thirty-one, he had now not heard his masterwork carried out. Luckily some ten years later Robert Schumann had unearthed the C main rating within the Schubert song archives that Franz’s brother Ferdinand Schubert was once presiding over. The symphony was once premiered posthumously in 1839, 11 years after the composer’s demise when Mendelssohn performed the Leipzig Gewandhaus. In his personal explicit manner that is Schubert matching himself to the older Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 in D minor having attended a efficiency in 1824 the similar yr he commenced his C main rating.

It is a long and stamina sapping paintings. Undaunted Ivor Bolton and his Dresdner Festspielorchester maintained essential ranges of experience, focus, and effort during. Placing have been the emotional stirrings Bolton created within the Andante and within the beneficiant proportioned Scherzo I relished the readability of the colourful dance melodies given without a scarcity of heft. Very best of all, below Bolton the Finale changed into an exhilarating and pulsating adventure and the symphony concluded with a grand burst of power. I had no drawback with the enjoyable sound of the length tools, quickly changing into acquainted with the wealthy strings the usage of minimal vibrato and in comparison to their trendy opposite numbers the slight distinction in woodwind and brass sound.

After the period Bolton performed the Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor performed via fashionable Berlin born soloist Martin Helmchen. A miles wanted pianist each in live performance and within the recording studio, I’ve admired Helmchen’s set of Beethoven piano concertos with the DSO Berlin below Andrew Manze on Alpha Classics. Brahms started writing his First Piano Concerto in 1854 and transformed some in the past written subject matter. His song can not have did not were suffering from deteriorating psychological well being and a suicide strive via his shut pal and mentor Robert Schumann. This was once Brahms’s first in reality large-scale paintings for orchestra and as a piano concerto essentially the most ‘symphonic’ that have been written. On the premiere of the D minor Concerto at Hanover in 1859 Brahms was once soloist and Joseph Joachim performed.

Because the Dresden Pageant Orchestra makes use of length tools Helmchen elected to play a piano of the length. No element of the length piano was once equipped alternatively it was once constructed via Paul McNulty (Divišov, Czech Republic) and I imagine it was once a length replica of a live performance grand after French maker Boisselot (c.1846). Extra importantly, within the marvellous acoustic of the tKulturpalast the Boisselot piano sounded mightily spectacular as did the orchestra’s length tools.

It was once a pleasure to look at Helmchen as he gave a efficiency that was once honest and expressive, and captured the splendour of the writing. Opening the concerto was once the large and exciting motion Maestoso the place Helmchen and Bolton’s gamers demonstrated they have been as much as the problem. At this level I felt the timpani was once too loud even though fortunately it did reduce in quantity. There was once a profound lyrical compassion to the Adagio that was once eminently pleasing, and within the Finale marked Rondo – Allegro non troppo Helmchen resolutely printed the differing temperaments that Brahms had embedded within the motion.

Compelling was once the elegant artistry of Martin Helmchen that shone thru so brightly within the concerto. With such tough works it was once my privilege to witness the conversation between the Dresden Pageant Orchestra and conductor Ivor Bolton as a real assembly of minds.

Michael Cookson

Footnote: My revel in from common reporting of German orchestras specifically presentations how their orchestral gamers stroll at the level from each side in a coordinated method. I’m undecided why their British opposite numbers generally tend to traipse at the level in a haphazard style which will appear disrespectful to audiences.

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