Friday, 22 August 2008

Prom 46: A wide-awake beauty

Prom 46’s Sleeping Beauty with the LSO and Gerghiev was a pure feat of theatre. By the end of Act 3, caught up in the tale, my ‘suspension of disbelief’ was absolute.

No smoochie soft-centres or artificial sweeteners where you least expect it. Gerghiev informed it with ‘Russian’ emotionality; occasionally like a grand gesture that almost slapped you across the face. And so tight! The performance was superbly controlled, always with an undercurrent of the darkly threatening which lifted only in Act 3. Shakespeare would have understood that. It was a ‘Winter’s Tale’.

Gerghiev led us through his theatrical reading as a dance of air and light. Even the ‘wicked’ witch Carabosse was no ugly hag; she hovered, light and lethal in the Finale of the first part of Act 1, and our Aurora was sometimes bird, sometimes butterfly. The LSO read his energy and his gestures with exact interpretative ability.

Act 3 (performed complete for the first time at the Proms) was an extended Hollywood happy ending, an essential release, well deserved after the darkness of the foregoing acts. And the evocation of the fairy-tale characters (not just the splendid cat, but Red Riding Hood faced with the Wolf) absolutely true to Perrault.

We do need to indulge once in a while in escapism, joy and laughter, never forgetting that this Master of Ceremonies is Russian to the soul by concluding this three hours of escapism with a hymn to darkness and majesty.

I will carry away with me a sense of operatic, grand, display of Russian sentiment tempered by a cool, accurate, restrained intellect, almost metaphysical.

(Zeina Trewin.)

RAH Live Prom 46: Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty; LSO/Gerghiev


Evan Tucker said...

Perhaps I'm a bit of a fussbudget, but I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm of the press for this prom. Gergiev can be fantastic in Tchaikovsky, and he gave us a wonderful recording of Sleeping Beauty. But I think the LSO just doesn't have that Russian rawness that Gergiev's idiosyncratic (though often wonderful) interpretation required. I loved a lot of Gergiev's touches, but I kept wondering why the orchestra wasn't tearing into the score with the same intensity the Gergiev was. If he had brought the Mariinsky to do SB, I think the reaction would have been akin to Dudamel's last year. I really hope Gergiev's appointment with the LSO doesn't preclude him bringing his other orchestra. Especially since Gergiev was frankly a terrible choice for the LSO, who seemed to choose him purely for his celebrity and not for any particular musical value they wanted to instill. It was an egregious example of a great orchestra resting on laurels. It won't be long before Jurowski and the LPO blow the LSO out of the water in the exact same repertoire.

Prommer said...

I don't know, really; Gergiev's acquaintanceship with the LSO isn't exactly new, he first conducted them back in 1988. I think you're being a bit unkind to the LSO.
While I do have a lot of admiration for Jurowski and his almost instinctive style, I don't think he has Gergiev's intellect he seems to be able to get his orchestras to 'play along with' even when they don't understand what he's getting at.