STRAVINSKY reckoned that the conductor should be little more than a time beater.
Watching last night’s performance by the BBC SSO of The Rite of Spring, I’m inclined to agree – well, up to a point. Whatever Matthias Pintscher was aiming to achieve, there was just something lacking in the final outcome, which seemed to result from over involvement.
It was certainly a clean performance, and there’s no question of the thunderous dynamite that gave those ritualistic, pounding chords all the thrill of the ride.
But what was missing was a sense of electricity pulsing through every bar of the music, and giving this 100-year-old work the unfaltering momentum it cries out for. The opening was almost sentimental, rather than seething, with its concoction of tunes. The ending had an uncomfortable imprecision about it, stemming from Pintscher’s over-fussy direction.
There were pre-echoes of the Stravinsky – screaming repeated chords – in Pintscher’s own Chute d’Étoiles: Hommage à Anselm Kiefer, receiving its UK premiere. Written for two trumpets – the awesome Marco Blaauw and Tine Thing Helseth in this case – and large orchestra, the score is a magical wash of alluring, spectral colourings, offset by cataclysmic percussion writing and supreme clarity of thought. It just goes on a bit too long.
The concert opened with Bach’s Suite No 2 in B minor, unusual territory for the SSO, but stylishly presented, not least by solo flautist Yvonne Patterson.