The beginning of a new age
Berlin. 08/28/2022. Philharmonie. Musikfest Berlin. Works by Saariaho and Mahler. Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Klaus Mäkelä, musical direction.
Klaus Mäkelä has a unique touch, something obvious and immediately recognizable. He is an anointed, the man of the moment given the fascination he arouses. Because of his charisma, because of his talent, because of his magnetism. He has everything to be the baton of his generation, the director who marks the coming decades if nothing is cut short. His directing style is certainly physical, emphatic and energetic, and perhaps over time he should or may somewhat mitigate his gesture. He is a case similar to that of the pianist Daniil Trifonov, so intense in his gestures and movements at the keyboard. The good thing is that all this translates into communication, in constant, pure and genuine expression.
Makela doesn’t run but she squeezes; she squeezes but she doesn’t choke; she breathes but gives no respite. Her way of making her music is joyful, of absolute dedication, experiential in a broad and genuine sense. With him, music is pure experience and all the musicians and the entire audience present at the concert in question can attest to this.
Thus, Mahler’s Sixth that they toasted with the musicians of the Concertgebouw Orchestra was a real whirlwind of emotions. The young Finnish master has been intelligent in choosing such a work for this first tour as appointed director, so turned outward in its expressiveness, so impressive. Mahler does not admit the thick line in any case, but it is true that there are other scores in his catalog where the filigree is more required continuously or where transcendence is condition sine qua non to reach a safe haven. Here, on the other hand, the trump card is played more by strong emotions and with it by pure sonority, something in which Mäkelä certainly seems very focused, managing balances, dynamics and volumes with real skill.
The central section of the second movement, somewhat spelled out, but finished off after the Walking with a final stretch really achieved, well managed forces. It had been a long time since he had listened to the Concertgebouw ensemble so inspired, so refined in all its sections, with that highly tuned string, steely but smooth, with an overwhelming brass section and virtuoso woodwinds.
In short, a concert that is remembered. I bet that many years from now I will happily recap being at the Berlin Philharmonie on Klaus Mäkelä’s first tour conducting the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Tribute to Wolfgang Rihm, on his 70th birthday
However, the Musikfest Berlin agenda had begun the previous afternoon with a chamber concert by the violinist Ilya Gringoltshe violates Lawrence Power and the cellist Nicholas Altstaedt. The evening included Streichtrio by Arnold Schönberg, from 1946, and the piece Musikf for 3 Streicher by Wolfgang Rihm, composer honored precisely in this way on his seventieth birthday. This trio of virtuosos showed off an absolutely impeccable performance, one that leaves one speechless. Rihm’s piece belongs to an early stage of his activity as a composer. Written when he was barely twenty-five years old, it is really intricate in its technical demands and achieves very remarkable levels of expressiveness.
Photos: © Fabian Schellhorn / Berliner Festspiele