07 Summer NightsSommer Nachts Konzert 2023
Elena Garanča; Wiener Philharmoniker; Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Sony Classical 19658818942 (wienerphilharmoniker.at/en/shop)

Midsummer night in Vienna, classical music capital of the world, with the Vienna Philharmonic at the wonderful Baroque Gardens of Schönbrunn, summer palace of the Hapsburgs, who could ask for anything more? By now a Viennese tradition, there is a giant outdoor concert with a glittering glass-covered sound stage, huge TV screens and loudspeakers set up either side, multicoloured searchlights radiating from the palace with seating for thousands and free for everyone. It was televised here on PBS, but unfortunately I missed it. No matter. It’s out on Blu-ray video and here is a CD from Sony Classical.

This year the invited artists are the world-famous conductor from Montreal Yannick Nézet-Séguin and equally famous, the spectacular mezzo from Latvia, Elina Garanča. The program is a bit unusual for Vienna, all French masterworks from the 19th and 20th centuries. First comes Bizet with fond memories of Carmen at the Met: Nézet-Séguin conducted and Garanča mesmerized New York audiences with her revolutionary portrayal of Carmen. Here she sings Habanera and then Nézet-Séguin conducts the Carmen Suite No.1.  Garanča later sings one of my favourites, the gorgeous, seductive aria Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix from Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Delilah, her pièce de resistance just perfect for her voice.

Berlioz was a genius who as a kid came to Paris not knowing what a symphony orchestra was and a year later amazed the world with his Symphonie Fantastique. Here we are treated to Le Corsair Overture stretching the orchestra to its utmost limits, giving a real workout to the VPO.

More highlights: Ravel’s opulent Daphnis et Chloe Suite No.2 with its tremendous sunrise, Lever du jour, and later his Bolero described at its premiere as a “huge musical joke.” The conductor unleashes the total forces of the orchestra controlling the gradual crescendo brilliantly.

The encore is a mandatory Strauss Waltz, Wiener Blut saluting Vienna and providing a suitable ending to a memorable evening.

Pin It

Back to top