Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra

Volker Hartung, Artistic Director

Concert in Lancaster, UK

The Virtual Lancaster, UK
played the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at
St.Peters Cathedral, Lancaster (UK)

Magical, moving Mozart

...The fact that St Peter's Cathedral has wonderful acoustics for both words and music, and that the performers were German added even more tempting authenticity.
I was not disappointed. First on the programme was the Bassoon Concerto K191 in B flat, which Mozart wrote when he was a mere eighteen. There was some lovely light and shade in the limpid second movement, Andante ma adagio, which has a theme the composer would later use as one of the heart stoppers in The Marriage of Figaro. By the third and final movement, Rondo tempo di menuetto, the wonderful dramatic tension that the Phil's conductor Volker Hartung managed to evince was palpable. The solo part in this, the first orchestral concerto from Mozart's pen, was beautifully played by a young Romanian Dejan Topchiev, to the well articulated ensemble playing from the ripieno. The size of the orchestra, with seventeen players, ensured a ravishing, clear and sharp sound..
You don't get that clarity or sense of intimacy, or such a well judged dynamic range, from many larger orchestras.
Or from many contemporary 'early music' ensembles who, sad to say, so often deliver stilted, spineless readings on disc, on the radio and in the concert hall. I was particularly impressed with Hartung's idiomatic and polished style, and the superb cadenzas, which captured the sheer joy of Mozart's very operatic music without ever lapsing into vulgarity.
Second on the programme was his best known Symphony, no 40 in G minor K550. Again, another passionate performance, racy tempi and full justice done to the piece's dramatic and sometimes daring textures and melodies.

But the highlight of the evening was the titanic Requiem in D minor, K626, from late 1791, at the very end of the composer's life. Here the now larger orchestra (more brass) was joined by the University of Medical Sciences Mixed Choir of Poznan, in the west of Poland. Numbering around two dozen, their size was well matched to the players, and their butch, clear and robust Eastern European consonants (and vowels) along with their exquisite diction contributed to a wondrous sound.
Some would have demurred from the use of a performing edition of the Requiem based on Süssmayer with its very full and perhaps over-heavy orchestration. But Hartung and his players were not fazed by this; there was still great clarity and more wonderful articulation.
Despite the ticket prices the Cathedral was packed. It is Lancaster's finest venue for a concert of this nature and scale. You could have heard a pin drop. The atmosphere was electric. I was moved to tears by this stunning performance.
Lancaster was richly blessed with a superb concert in such wonderful surroundings.
(Virtual Lancaster: Michael Nunn)