The Vienna Philharmonic played the Seventh Bruckner Symphony in the Festspielhaus on Sunday evening under the direction of Christian Thielemann. Mezzo-poranist Elīna Garanča was brilliant.
Elīna Garanča, the successful and globally sought-after mezzo-poranist, who celebrated her international breakthrough at the 2003 Festival, performed the first part of the concert with the “Five songs based on poems by Friedrich Rückert”, orchestrated by Gustav Mahler. From “I breathe a mild fragrance” to Mahler’s only real love song, “Do you love beauty”, to “I have lost the world”: the 44-year-old cast a spell over the audience with her voice. In contrast to the second part, the applause was rather restrained. Perhaps it was because there was a break after just under half an hour.
After the break, the concert was all about Anton Bruckner. The “Wiener” under Christian Thielemann presented the seventh symphony in E major. The beginning, the mystical introductory tremolos of the strings, which the self-proclaimed Bruckner expert Sergiu Celibidache describes as one of the most difficult beginnings of all, they mastered in a brilliant manner. The “Allegro moderato” ended with one of the longest drum rolls in music literature. In the second movement, the “Adagio”, the Wagner tubas could be heard for the first time in a work by Bruckner. It is to be understood as funeral music, as a memento of Richard Wagner’s death.
The “Scherzo” is completely different, a contrast to the previous two movements. While these were still rather quiet, as is typical of Bruckner, the tempo alone made it very fast, and the trumpets and the string ostinato gave it a threatening, even demon-like sound. The symphony, which was premiered in Leipzig at the end of 1894, ended “in motion, but not fast” and above all in splendor.
Conclusion: A symphony that you should just let it sink in. Multi-faceted, sometimes also a rollercoaster of emotions. The crowd, who appeared in host, was very impressed and celebrated the “Viennese” and their leaders. Christian Thielemann, who showed the joy of conducting, could hardly get enough of the applause from the crowd and came back on stage five times. Quite rightly.