ORCHESTRA OF THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT, SIR SIMON RATTLE
Published 22/06/2011 | 05:00
NATIONAL CONCERT HALL
Directing without a baton, the Berlin Philharmonic's Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment in a fascinating programme of Haydn and Mozart at the National Concert Hall.
The OAE, with Rattle as its 'principal artist,' is something special.
Performing music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the orchestra uses instruments from the same period.
There are further embellishments at the NCH when the French sister duo -- Katia and Marielle Labèque -- play Mozart's E flat double concerto on recently built fortepianos.
Constructed by US born Paul McNulty from an 1805 model, they resemble the kind of instruments Mozart would have used in Salzburg and Vienna.
Without pedals, the excellently matching shorter-keyboard Labèque instruments have a rather tinkling treble and rumbling bass not all that far removed from a harpsichord.
It takes the ear time to adjust, but I soon find them to be winning charmers.
The Labèque siblings have a natural rapport, and I recall a scriptural reference -- 'and the two shall become one flesh' -- as their playing has a singular blend.
The rest of the generous programme is symphonic, including Haydn's No 65 -- one of his spirited 'Storm and Stress' works. In Mozart's rarely heard 33rd Symphony, Rattle's direction brings a dramatic precision as well as an elegant graciousness and the OAE closes out with Haydn's C minor 'London' Symphony No 95.
Now with added wooden flute, long trumpets and timpani and played with spontaneous and theatrical panache, it brings this concert to a thrilling conclusion.