Alan Gilbertbiographycalendarnewspressdiscographycontactcontact
Pride and Voice: Unforgettable evening at the Philharmonic
Klaus Geitel | Berliner Morgenpost | 7 November 2012

To say it straight away: the performance of Alan Gilbert, chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was a great event in the Berlin concert-life. He put Beethoven's 5th Symphony at the start. Furtwängler had already occasionally begun his concerts with symphonies, to bring their full enjoyment to the not-yet exhausted attention of the audience. After the symphony, an unforgettable concert performance of Bela Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" that left only one thing missing: the German-speaking projection of the original sung in Hungarian.

Bartok's one-act opera is a work of darkness, everything could apply apart from catchiness. It virtually illustrates the doomsday of love in detail over a whole hour, insistently. It occurs dramatically and consistently in one place, and on top of it all, this place is also covered in blood. This is how the hero sings at least, the youngest victim of Bluebeard.

Neither in "The Wooden Prince" nor in "The Miraculous Mandarin" did Bartok show himself to be particularly female-friendly. He brings this most mercilessly in Bluebeard's castle, turning to murder, and Alan Gilbert savours this moment in an almost irresistible way. In front of the gallery in the hall, over half a dozen trumpets surge against the interpretational furore, that Bartok specified, and against this the singers have to fight as well.

Michelle De Young uses her wonderfully balanced mezzo soprano voice for the victim-role. She sings the role very fearlessly, proud and dominating. She knows her way from room to room – and there are 7 that have been left open to her – and is lost to her fate, but she accepts it with pride and superior tone. To be able to hear her is already an experience.

Added to this is the phenomenal orchestral-playing, that Gilbert wins over from the Staatskapelle as if by suggestion. He himself remains very quiet and objective, but he lends his full attention not only to the score but to all contributors – also the fresh-voiced Bass-baritone Falk Stuckmann who sings the murderous duke with something like abrasive intensity: pitiless, but with regret. He just can't be headstrong without his murderous ways.