Bryn Terfel – A Gala Evening

May 4, 2013 at 8:34 am | Posted in Concert Review, Recital Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the concert last night: Bryn Terfel with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Michael Fowler Centre. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but I got a world renowned bass-baritone and a brilliant orchestra – conducted by Tecwyn Evans.

Bryn Terfel is bass-baratone sang a collection of Wagner, Boito, Weill, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and some ‘folk songs’. In between, the Orchestra played some Wagner, Boito, and Lilburn.

Evans is a comparatively animated conductor and really seemed to bring the parts of the Orchestra into a greater whole.

Terfel has a magnificent operatically trained voice. His voice easily filled the Michael Fowler Centre. He held his own against the combined orchestra – both in volume, and retaining his clarity.

I liked the Orchestra’s rendition of The Ride of the Valkyries. I was transported away with images of Huey helicopters attacking a surfing village in Vietnam; then I imagined chapter one of Starship Troopers the way it should have been filmed (or is it the way i would have done it?).

I also liked: Oh What a Beautiful Morning and Fiddler on the Roof; as I associate them with warm childhood memories.

I found the german/operatic/orchestral arrangement of The Ballad of Mack the KnifeDie Moritat von Mackie Messer – far too clinical.

I found the two encores hopelessly contrived. Terfel sang three songs that the orchestra just happened to know how to play. Maybe the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra could be expected to be able to play Pokarekari Ana, and be able to adjust for bass-baretone’s range, but for the other two songs the Orchestra just happened to have the sheet music (I could see the cello-ists turning and arranging sheet music).

The near-standing ovation at the end seemed much more genuine.

However, I did feel slightly out of place: the average age of the audience must have been close to 70; a sprinkling of Welsh flags were unfurled throughout the night; and I don’t speak German.

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