Although it was only three years since the orchestra last performed this popular work, it takes intense and efficient rehearsals to perform this work with such diamond clarity and beauty.
After the dramatic first movement, Lang-Lessing, conducting without a score, delivered a vivacious, brisk and sweeping scherzo. Jeff Garza on the horn, Paul Leuders on oboe and Peter Flamm on timpani were perfect in their exposed roles. The moving and emotional adagio was relaxed and luxuriant, with horn player Adedeji Ogunfolu splendid in his solo.
The final movement exploded like a thunder clap before the cellos and basses took over as snippets of the previous movement’s themes were quoted. The music reflects Beethoven’s mental pursuit for perfection here as he rejects the previous themes until a new one appears.
The audience voted, the orchestra voted, and the judges also voted. Excitement ran high in McCaw Hall for the third International Wagner Competition, with nine competing singers who have the potential to make careers in one of the most demanding vocal categories of all.
Everything about the competition was first-class, including Robert Dahlstrom’s beautiful stage set — with large paintings on the side walls, and alcoves displaying gorgeous glass objects. Another special touch: a quartet of new Wagner tubas performing a new “Speight Motif” fanfare composed by Daron Hagen. The orchestra, under Sebastian Lang-Lessing’s baton, rose splendidly to the challenge of 18 different Wagnerian arias in succession.
- The Seattle Times