Konzert zur Saisoneröffnung Konzerthaus Berlin, 26.08.2022 - Großer Saal Christoph Eschenbach - Conductor Renée Fleming - Soprano Richard Strauss: „Vier letzte Lieder“ für Sopran und Orchester nach Hermann Hesse und Joseph von Eichendorff Gustav Mahler: Sinfonie Nr. 5 cis-Moll ©2022 Martin Walz www.martinwalz.de

Christoph Eschenbach begins his final season as chief conductor of the Konzerthausorchester with a farewell piece: The “Four Last Songs” are Richard Strauss’ opus ultimum, composed from 1947 in the face of the horrors of the Second World War. In 1998 Eschenbach recorded the cycle on CD together with Renée Fleming. Now, in the autumn of her career, the much-loved US soprano has come to Berlin again to perform the melancholy tinged melodies with Eschenbach.

Visually wrapped in a gold-bronze sequined robe, Renée Fleming is also acoustically lovingly embraced by the Konzerthausorchester. And she lets it happen, integrates herself into the lush euphony, shows the courage to be fragile, becomes one voice among many, and in the third song “Beim Schlafengehen” even leaves concertmaster Sayako Kusaka to boast with the most beautiful, noblest cantilena.

And then comes a fantastic performance of Mahler’s Fifth: People go to live concerts for interpretations like this! Perhaps some of the details on the famous recordings can be heard more finely balanced, but this is the lived moment, without a network, false bottom and helping sound engineer’s hands. In front of the eyes of the spectators, hard work is being done, like in an open restaurant kitchen, highly concentrated, serious, with a sweat on the brow. The devotion with which the cello group sings its endless melody in the middle of the second movement is moving.

Everyone involved is ready to go to their limits with this score, in which abysses constantly open up, in which the music staggers from one emotional state of emergency to the next, conflicting atmospheric levels overlap like double exposures in a film. The orchestra also says “thank you” for the fulfilling years since 2019, Eschenbach throws his life experience into the scales, collected in 50 years as a conductor and 82 years as a person. The Adagietto, which is suspected of being kitsch, can become a breathing organism whose authentic intensity almost puts the hall into a trance. In the rondo finale, the last reserves are mobilized and the suspense is maintained until the triumphant end.