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Subject: NY Philharmonic Strauss Elektra
From: marc conti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:marc conti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 5 Dec 2008 13:45:00 -0500
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Last night's concert performance was the most nacropleptic Elektra I
have experienced. Loreen Mazeel conducted with a four square sameness
that was absolutely tedious. He held the orchestra back as if he was
frightened by the elemental power of the music. By my reckoning, the
running time of the performance, with the standard cuts, was around 2
hours long. The score demands concentrated focus and tautness of flow
which was lacking until the very last page of music when Mazeel lit
the fuse and the orchestra came alive.

Deborah Polaski sounded as if she was sedated and never sang into her
voice. She sang as if frightened that at any moment her voice would
give way if she did not hold back. This was a serene, ethereal,
lightly sketched and undramatic Elektra. From where I sat in j row,
rear orchestra, there were no low notes, no chest notes and no sinewy,
sensuality in the middle. The top lacked focus and  spread whenever
she pressed or tried to inject power.

Anne Schwanewilms looked the part of Chrysothemis but was dramatically
limp. Vocally radiant in her first entrance but running out of steam
towards the end -  underpowered and wayward in vocal line.

Jane Henschel looked suitabilty demonic as Clytemenstra and sang well,
if not a deeply etched portrayal. James Tovey was a forgettable and
wooden Orestes. Richard Margison was a very satisfying Aegist though.

After the concert I listened to the magnificient 1953 recording of
Elektra with  Astrid Varnay in the title role and Leonie Rysanek as
Chrysothemis.  What blazing attack and a fearless lack of inhibition!

Marc Conti

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