The Salzburg Festival is still running for two weeks, but Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic have already dealt with farewells at their concert on Sunday in the Great Festival Hall. Last works by Tchaikovsky and Liszt were on the program – and in the end it was still a beginning.
One should stop when it is most beautiful, thought Tchaikovsky when he wanted to put a symphonic end to his work in 1893 with the 6th Symphony. Less than nine days after the premiere, his life came to an end at the age of only 53. The four-movement work, which received its nickname “Pathetique” thanks to all sorts of emotional charges caused by that fact, is a requiem in two senses.
Riccardo Muti, however, kept far away from such emotionalities and sent the “Viennese” on a solemn funeral procession shimmering with elegant restraint through the first two movements. He let a slightly tighter gait flare up briefly in the third movement and ended the slow final movement with gently cushioned tones, which he threw down like roses into Tchaikovsky’s musical grave.
After the break, the next funeral: Liszt’s “From the cradle to the grave”. In this symphonic poem, too, Muti did not allow himself to be seduced by the melancholy, he saved the great pathos for the finale of the concerto. In order not to send the audience completely into a dead Sunday, the “Prologo in cielo” from Arrigo Boito’s “Mefistofele” was chosen at the end and this choice ensured that the morning was remembered above all as an outstanding choral concert.
For the part of Mefistofele, Ildar Abdrazakov took the stage in bright red shoes and an all-black suit. The sought-after bass was not only visually closer to the elegant and seductive “Lucifer” from the series of the same name than to the Beelzebub Mephisto from Goethe’s “Faust”. Demonic and agile with seemingly effortless power, he fell upon the orchestra and choir. There were also only roses to scatter.
Although represented by a considerable number (the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Choir and the Salzburg Festival and Theater Children’s Choir had joined forces), the singers repeatedly managed to create the impression of a gentle, spherical angelic choir, which Muti then finally flexed his muscles again. The audience absorbed this energy and gave raging final applause to everyone involved.
- The concert will be repeated on August 15th and 16th