MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

End of the Runnicles Era

The conductor Donald Runnicles concluded his tenure with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on the last day of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival with a performance of Schoenberg’s epic Gurre-Lieder at Usher Hall.

The gargantuan forces needed bring to mind the festival atmosphere Mahler’s Eighth Symphony also evokes. Here’s a sampling of the reviews:

And so this concert summed up the kind of playing that he and this orchestra have developed together – a rich glow at the heart of the strings and a capacity to turn on a dime and power up almighty sounds.

–Kate Molleson in The Guardian

Runnicles is particularly well known for his interpretations of the core Austro-German Romantic repertoire, so Gurrelieder plays to his strengths. Under his baton Schoenberg’s ripe score yields up its influences. There is Wagner in the love music, of course, but also Bruckner in the solemnity of the Wood-Dove, Beethoven in the nature-painting and, of course, Mahler in the scale and structure. That scale could be pretty overpowering at times, and not just in the final, overwhelming greeting to the sun that ends the work. The sweep and surge of the love music was intoxicating, as was the wall of brass and percussion that accompanied the chorus’ romping as the hellish riders. What was most striking, however, was the way Runnicles repeatedly brought out the delicacy of the orchestration.

–Simon Thompson for Seen and Heard International

[Schoenberg’s] mega-cantata Gurrelieder, was the vehicle chosen to whisk us off on such a glorious journey, driven by the massively-inflated forces of the BBC Scottish Synphony Orchestra, a male-dominated Edinburgh Festival Chorus, five soloists and speaker, all under the towering leadership of maestro Donald Runnicles, and formulated by a musical language gathering up the scraps of Wagner, colouring them with whole-tone harmonic treats from Debussy, sweeping up Mahler in its tracks before opening the gates to teasers of the world-changing Schoenberg-to-come.

–Ken Walton in The Scotsman

This concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Friday 16 September at 7.30pm.

Filed under: conductors, Runnicles, Schoenberg

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

RSS Arts & Culture Stories from NPR

  • Final Round
    The final two contestants test their knowledge of everything from world leaders to puppets in this rapid-fire game of smarts and strategy.
  • The Swing Of Things
    In this music parody game, songs from the New Jack Swing movement are rewritten about things that very literally swing — or can be swung.
  • This Is United States
    The contestants swap two-letter terms and phrases for states that share those same two letters in this high-concept word game. It's that simple!
  • Hashtag Challenge
    In this audio quiz, contestants strike a pose and stay verrrrry still as they identify viral internet challenges.
  • Welcome to the Jumble
    In this anagram game, contestants unscramble different animal species. It's like the new Dr. Doolittle but with slightly less CGI.
  • Marina Franklin: Single Black Female
    Comedian Marina Franklin talks about her early efforts getting into comedy, and her latest stand-up special, Single Black Female.
  • Justin Long: 'Lots Of Love'
    Actor Justin Long discusses co-hosting a podcast with his brother, interviewing his grandmother, getting recognized as the Mac in the "Mac vs. PC" ads.
  • How 'Namaste' Flew Away From Us
    "Namaste" has a meaning among Hindi speakers. But in the U.S., the word has been wrangled out of its context and tossed around to mean whatever people want it to.
  • Recording Academy CEO Suspended Amid Misconduct Allegations Ahead Of Grammy Awards
    The organization that puts on the annual Grammy Awards says Deborah Dugan has been placed on administrative leave after an allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the organization.
  • Christopher Tolkien, 'Middle-earth's First Scholar,' Dies At 95
    J.R.R. Tolkien's son was instrumental in cultivating his father's legacy, shepherding unpublished works to readers and helping extend the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.