This was a night full of surprise. First, the première of Siegfried Matthus’s Konzert für fünf, for wind quintet and orchestra. The work begins and ends with the conductor’s solo on the timpani, and the piece fulfilled its promise of being structurally clear “conversations” for the soloists, the rhythmical alertness of which bordered on a bolero, but it was the tango offered as an encore by the soloists that got the warmest applauses.
After the intermission, the audience was treated to highlights from Wagner’s Göttedämmerung (Siefried’s Journey on the Rhine, Brünnhilde and Waltraute’s scene, Siegfried’s funeral march and the Immolation Scene). The performance took some time to take off – the first excerpt seemed built “from the outside”, as if the conductor did not find the inner truth of the piece and tried to force animation in the proceedings for awkward effects, but the soloists seemed to add some dramatic sense to the performance. The graphic effects of the magic fire, the flying horse, the Valkyries’ battle cry were thrillingly executed. From this moment on, the Berliner Philharmonic had more than the occasional moment of one could remember the big, powerful and exquisite sounds of its golden days.
Katarina Dalayman’s warm-toned dramatic soprano, noble phrasing and clear diction make her ideal for the womanly aspects of Brünnhilde, but the warrior goddess recalled in the opera’s closing scene tests her weaker lower register. On her favour, she seems to have a neverending supply of big firm top notes, but the unfavourable tessitura of the Immolation Scene tired her a bit. I have the impression that Die Walküre should not be her best moment in the Ring as a whole. As Waltraute, Karen Cargill proved to be a truly interesting artist. She is a most intelligent singer, with solid technique, dramatic imagination and crystal-clear German, but she seems to be more a contralto than a mezzo.