Vast is the scope of Richard Strauss’s "Ein Heldenleben", vast in emotional gamut and vast in range of orchestral colour. Tonight’s performance was impressive, there must have been detailed preparation. The climaxes were dramatic, the lyrical passages moving and the contrasts effective. The effect overall was intense.
The programme note makes a lot of Strauss’ inspiration by the works of Nietsche (as with "Also Sprach Zarathustra", see Prom 5) however the more obvious clues for me to understanding the work are the series of titles for the episodes, though the composer later withdrew these.
The Labèque sisters put on a good show for the UK Premiere of Richard Dubugnon’s Battlefield Concerto. Not a lot contrast in this piece: it seemed to be full-on all the time. I think the sisters were enjoying themselves but this didn’t come over to me in the music they made together. It was nice to see the composer come on stage to acknowledge the applause.
Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony got a forward-looking interpretation from Semyon Bychkov. This was Schubert through Mahler’s eyes. He drew out Schubert’s intellectual argument but also exposed a lyrical and melodic aspect to the "Unfinished" which the more usual raw and bleak interpretation suppresses. Schubert's Eight played in the style of the Third or Fifth.
Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, 'Unfinished
Richard Dubugnon: Battlefield Concerto - UK Premiere
R. Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
Katia and Marielle Labèque, pianos
BBC Symphony Orchestra, leader Sergey Levitin
Semyon Bychkov, conductor