Bach – B minor mass / NY Phil / 3-15-13

(Detailed impressions of this concert from the performance on 3-13 here.)

This time around I was sitting in the middle of the orchestra section, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way back from the stage. The sound was distinctly different here. I could hear the harpsichord, for one thing. In addition, aside from everything in general being a little louder, I could hear all the individual brass and woodwind parts with much more clarity. The solo oboe was particularly impressive – both in the first mezzo solo and in the bass aria towards the end of the Credo.

In addition, the balance of the vocal soloists was better from this position. Last time it occurred to me to wonder if I had not somehow trained my brain to fasten on to the sound of Dorothea Röschmann’s voice in such a way as to filter out other people’s whether I wanted to or not, but I have since concluded that 1) I am not sure this is even possible and 2) it’s the concert hall, stupid.

I heard much more of von Otter in the first soprano/mezzo duet, and of Davislim in the soprano/tenor duet. Von Otter’s “Agnus dei” was if possible even more hauntingly beautiful than last time. Röschmann was her usual expressive self – during her second duet with von Otter we were treated at one point to the same kind of high pitch / high volume sound that the NYT in another context described as a “trumpet blown from a windswept promontory.” I am not sure that I love the trumpet blown from the windswept promontory – indeed, as far as the category of “all singing-related sounds produced by Dorothea Röschmann” is concerned I will go so far as to say I can normally do without the trumpet blown from the windswept promontory – but given the beauty of all the other sounds, I can certainly live with it. Who else can make a mass feel as intimate and subtle as an art song?

Finally, a sartorial note. I overheard two people behind me discussing Anne Sofie von Otter’s dress, which was very pretty – bright blue with silvery patterns on it. The people I overheard noted that the matching wrap was attached to the back of the dress, so that she could stroll across the stage looking like she had a small cape flowing behind her, without having to mess about with it or worry about keeping it in place, and then when sitting she had something to keep warm with. This strikes me as an excellent design for clothing. Stylish and practical. (DR was looking very classy in clingy black lace; the dudes were wearing dude clothes. Men’s clothing these days: never colorful or swishy enough. And lest you roll your eyes, I am not alone on this point: I have had at least one straight man, after a few beers, tell me he wishes men could dress more like they did in the 1500s.)

9 thoughts on “Bach – B minor mass / NY Phil / 3-15-13

  1. >>I have had at least one straight man, after a few beers, tell me he wishes men could dress more like they did in the 1500s.)

    Ugh! Those “does my arse look big in these” pants things they used to wear…

    I wouldn’t object strongly if things got a bit more formal again but the 1500s I’ll pass on.


    1. How about the 18th century? I think it was bright colors and variety of fabrics in a general way that appealed to my friend – and one can certainly get that in men’s clothes up to around 1800 or so.


    1. Yes – she’s the countess! (Unless something has changed; I hope not.) I have tickets to two performances – my plan is to hear that and then swing north and visit my folks.


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