Soprano Christiane Karg proved utterly magnetic in two Mozart jewels that Fischer combined with the Symphony No. 38 in D major. In addition, he
included Enescu and BartÛk to form a highly engaging programme. The extreme contrast in styles before and after the intermission made me feel spoiled, as
if I had attended two extraordinary concerts.
In the first part, Fischer led in BartÛk’s unnerving masterpiece Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, preceded by an Enescu gem from 1903:
the haunting PrÈlude ‡ l’unisson. This first part from the Romanian composer’s Orchestral Suite No. 1 C major consists of thinly layered
strings with, towards the end, a gravid timpani roll charging at their transparent, high registers.
Fischer reached gorgeously rarified heights with the Berliner strings, preparing us for the eerie BartÛk. Enescu’s music reminded me of the vastness of a
Sibelius icescape, fluctuating between highly suspenseful pianissimos and thunderous, swirling fortissimos. Fischer’s slow burning build up silenced the
audience. You could cut the tension with a knife!
In BartÛk, he took us for an adrenaline ride full of crisp contrasts, rhythmic momentum, outbursts of brilliance, and highly dynamic volume. His eye for
detail led to shrilling extremes including flashes of incandescent heat. Fischer conducted with chipper exuberance supported by his invigorating energy.
With generous charm, he even appeared ever so briefly to tap-dance to the pizzicato pecks in the dance passages of the final Allegro molto.
Fischer put the brawny Berliners’ ferocious power on display in BartÛk’s otherworldly universe. The strings sounded muscular but transparent. Percussion
delivered exhilarating effects, while Marie-Pierre Langlamet on the harp punctuated her notes with a violent temperament. Nikolaus Resa’s celesta made for
an alien ambience, while Hendrik Heilmann performed percussively on the piano. Nestled in the center of the antiphonal orchestral set up, the trio’s
focused intensity in their interplay demonstrated their superb musicianship.
After the break, Christiane Karg elevated the evening to an even higher quality. Though initially put off by her exalted emergence, I was quickly put in my
place as she then dazzled as Sifare, originally a castrato role in Mitridate, re di Ponto. Sifare has a secret love for Aspasia, pledged to marriage to his
father the King. As she sang the Second Act’s “Lungi da te, mio bene”, her expressive vocal prowess took hold over me. The vulnerability in Ms. Karg’s eyes
dramatically sustained my attention as she subsequently disarm me with her expressive phrasing. Refined, sturdy curves from the Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra’s FÈlix Dervaux elegant horn play enriched Ms. Karg’s razorsharp tendresse with a noble aura.
She continued her magic with “Misera, dove son! — Ah! non son’io che parlo” from the Metastasio’s popular libretto for the opera seria Ezio,
previously set to music by Handel and Gluck. With authenticity, Karg moved through the brooding to the fiery temperaments. She connects with the audience.
At some moments, her sense of intimacy had me fooled she sang solely for me. Positively radiant, the BPO complemented her extraordinary performance. My
eyes teared up several times.
Several people left after Karg’s performance. Perhaps they thought they had heard Mozart’s Prague Symphony too many times. Their loss, because
with Fischer’s sensitive touch, this rendition sounded fresh and full of Classical lushness. It was the perfect ending to such an enthralling
Christiane Karg (soprano), Iv·n Fischer (conductor), Berliner Philharmoniker.
October 27th 2016; Berlin Philharmonie.
product_title=Christiane Karg with the Berliner Philharmoniker
product_by=A review by David Pinedo
product_id= Above: Christiane Karg
Photo credit: Gisela Schenker