That’s the magic of live classical concerts: the strings start pianissimo – and the world out there is immediately forgotten, transported far away. There is only this hall, filled with sound waves, what counts is the community of musicians and audiences who have come together to focus on only one thing: the unrepeatable moment in which the notes come to life be awakened.
Of course, not every orchestra can play the beginning of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto as densely, fascinatingly and captivatingly as the Berlin Philharmonic, and there are only a handful of violinists in the world who can match the intensity with which Janine Jansen interprets the solo part . With her-here-it-is-about-the-extreme-way, she grabs the audience immediately, her trills are expansive, the accents are maximally distinctive, the horsehair of her bow seems to literally glow.
The orchestral sound arches over the soloist like a dome, dark, shadowed, so that only Janine Jansen moves acoustically into the center. With a passion that knows suffering, she traverses the rugged landscapes of the soul in the opening movement, letting the violin sing emotionally intoxicated in the Adagio. The people listen so breathlessly that the tension in the pause between sentences has to be discharged in many coughs of embarrassment.
Janine Jansen gives the listeners the time they need to collect themselves – and then plunges into the finale with predatory aggressiveness. After that, the hall is over the moon, the artist beams and thanks her with a delicate Bach encore.
After the break, conductor Sakari Oramo makes it possible to revisit a symphony that the Berlin Philharmonic premiered 109 years ago. The Danish composer Rued Langgaard was only twenty at the time, and he was not lacking in self-confidence. This “Klippen-Pastorale” is in five movements, 65 minutes long, and the score calls for hundreds of participants. It starts powerfully, late-romantic-pathetic, Langgaard piles up mountains of sound, literally overruns the audience with his continuous espressivo.
This is excessive music, often only with alleged excitement, which remains superficial, with a lot of cause without effect. But it doesn’t sound like an imitation, it’s not a copy of Bruckner, Mahler or Strauss. Wagnerian twists and turns are most likely to be heard, especially in the heavily used horns, trumpets, trombones and tubas. The sentences have suggestive titles, the “Sage” whispers pregnant with meaning, “Uphill!” is marched with heavy steps. In terms of atmosphere, the most attractive is “Die Blumen der Berge”, a natural idyll in powdery pastel tones.
Rued Langgaard only had his first symphony heard in concert once more, the autograph slumbered unnoticed on a shelf in the Berlin State Library until 2004. The composer was constantly at loggerheads with the Danish cultural establishment until his death in 1956, and many works remained unperformed. Only now is this outsider slowly being rediscovered. In Berlin, the Deutsche Oper made the start with its scenic oratorio “Antikrist”. On Thursday, the Philharmonie audience warmed to the roar of the Dane and thanked the orchestra for the collective effort with long applause.