THE so-called Berlin Symphony Orchestra, which appeared at the Perth Festival on Sunday night, is a fine band, with great warmth to its overall sound, a terrific sense of ensemble, and that elusive homogeneity which suggests an integrated ensemble where there is strong communication and the inimitable feeling that everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
Has anyone suggested to them that they should stop travelling under a pseudonym and use their real name? Berlin Symphony Orchestra is confusing and misleading. Six years ago they renamed themselves the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Can someone tell them this: be proud of it; use it; be yourselves. This is the great Kurt Sanderling's old orchestra. And that's a pedigree of which to be proud.
Much though I loved their sound and their playing on Sunday night, there was one serious and consistent issue: conductor Alexander Liebreich and his relentlessly bracketing, shackled approach to tempi. He was completely inflexible for the entire night in his structuring, pacing and nuancing of the music. Thus he completely missed the rush in the great tune of Weber's Freischutz Overture, and, in a strange account of Schumann's Piano Concerto, when the young wizard Kit Armstrong (who was a bit splashy) went all poetic and impulsive with the mercurial flow of the music, the conductor went doggedly four-square.
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I admit there was an irresistible grip to Liebreich's Brahms One in the second half, where velocity was the mantra; but it did rather miss all the points: especially the serious drama of the first movement, the melting moments of the gorgeous slow movement, and the inexorable transition to the finale, where, frankly, he threw it away.