Concert Review: HKPO - Das Rheingold
January 22, 2015, CCCH
HKPO-Jaap and soloists
Wagner Das Rheingold
Note (24/01/16) Naxos has issued a recording of the concerts, to generally favorable reviews. Personally, I am surprised that Goerne's Wotan received much praise. I think multi-miking helped him seem bigger and more authoritative. In concert he was not. More on this in my review of 2016's Die Walkure.
First thing first, the biggest name disappoints. The Wotan of Matthias Goerne was an outright failure. He had never sung Wotan before, and obviously he was feeling out the role far away from Europe. The singing was generic, inadequately shaded, and simply did not have the depth and breath the role required. Even his physical presence seemed rather uncomfortable.
The biggest surprise came from the Giants. While Stephen Milling (Fafner) was indeed imposing in stature, in tandem Korean Kwanchul Youn (Fasolt) was almost comically dwarfed (this would never work on the opera stage). The former sang in a well-characterized manner, but it was the singing of the latter that was the biggest surprise - big, full-throated and resonant. Simply fantastic.
The central characters of Alberich (Peter Sidhom) and Loge (Kim Begley) were well sung and portrayed, the former especially so for good acting (whatever could be done on stage). Among the rest, David Cagelosi portrayed a suitably pathetic Mime. Oleksandr Pushniak (Donner) and Charles Reid (Froh) were competent.
Among the ladies, Michelle DeYoung (Fricka) and Deborah Humble (Erda) were very good. The Freia of Anna Samuil was a shrieking hysteric. Japanese Eri Nakamura was competent as Woglinde, but Aurhelia Varak (Wellgunde) and Hermine Haslebock (Flosshilde) were much less satisfactory.
Jaap van Zweden conducted in his customary, rather brute, style, so textures were generally clean, but atmosphere was lacking. As usual, the HKPO strings were tidy and dry, failing to portray anything like the Rhein. Woodwinds also paled next to the generally very good playing of the huge, much augmented brass section.