Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde: Act I - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 30 Sep
The SSO bring intense depth and exquisite insight to Wagner’s tremendous score
Kicking off their 2012/13 season with an all-star concert performance of the first act of one of the world’s most celebrated operas, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra once again proved themselves to be amongst the UK’s leading orchestras. Featuring some of the biggest names currently on the Wagnerian stage, Sunday’s performance of Act I of Tristan und Isolde was truly breathtaking.
Swedish soprano Nina Stemme gave an absolutely flawless performance as Isolde, combining her warm, solid tones with just the right amount of buoyancy to have the audience rapt from the outset. The absence of staging by no means dampened the drama, since both Stemme and tenor Ian Storey as Tristan gave such engaging performances. Conducted by Donald Runnicles, the orchestra weaved a complex tapestry through the music, bringing intense depth and exquisite insight to Wagner’s tremendous score.
Preceding the main attraction was Rachmanninov’s symphonic poem, 'The Isle of the Dead', inspired by Swiss symbolist artist Arnold Böcklin’s painting of the same name. Rachmanninov’s eerie and mysterious composition is brought to life, Runnicles moulding the music to depict the dark and foreboding essence of the piece, all the while with a menacing undertone depicting the churning of the choppy waters round this macabre isle.