Berlin Radio Symphony, Janowski bring Brahms to Seoul

Marek Janowski
Korea Times

The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) opened with Carl Maria von Weber's "Oberon" Overture at the Seoul Arts Center on March 13, an ideal preamble to a night of flamboyant technique and refined orchestration.

The RSB (also known as the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin), staged a dynamic yet ariose intro, with an overwhelming second violin presence. The briskly paced performance exploded, cooled and exploded again as the strings pushed the forte dynamic to its peak. It closed with the same vitality.

The orchestra, helmed by Polish-born conductor Marek Janowski, invited Frank Peter Zimmerman to the stage, ready for Sibelius' Violin Concerto Op. 47. Zimmerman's intricate execution dramatized the piece's North European sentiment, a vortex of compulsive, rhythmic riffs against a churning orchestra.

Its first movement began unsteadily, with coarse sounds here and there in the brass, but its second movement, which at times can seem a tad tedious, proved Janowski was truly in command of the music. Janowski was both patient and powerful, engaging the audience as much as the music did.

Brahms' characteristic rhetoric and lyricism had the audience's eyes set on principal bassoonist You Sung-kwon, who, with a piece that accents the appeal of low-toned instruments, impressed with deep and profound phrases.

The cello and bassoon's harmony in the second movement's intro was suitably expansive, and following movements brought a more flavorful sound to the performance, which had featured a more jagged and powerful execution until then.

Eventually the piece morphed into a fourth movement most are familiar with. Entrances were crisper, and the strings were less prodding, more subtle. Those in the audience rose from their seats to applaud the orchestra and conductor as they rounded the night off.
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