Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Frankfurt Radio Symphony

Last summer, while in Madrid, I had the opportunity to hear the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in a concert of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. I mainly went for the latter work, the Rite of Spring which I had not heard in concert before. I was very impressed. Recently I have been watching/listening to some of their performances on YouTube and continue to be impressed, not just with the orchestra, who are a fine group of professionals under the precise and enthusiastic baton of music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada (who was the conductor of the concert I saw), but with the production standards as well. In German they are known as hr-Sinfonieorchester, standing for "Hessischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra," which is the moniker they appear under on Wikipedia. Hesse is the German state of which Frankfurt is the largest city.

There are a large number of videos on YouTube with the orchestra and, if you have decent speakers and a good-sized monitor, you can have a fine listening experience. Mind you, you will perhaps become more familiar with the fingers of various wind players than is strictly necessary! Here is a performance of Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra that I watched last night. The conductor is Orozco-Estrada, born in Columbia, now resident in Austria.

Very satisfying performance by extremely competent players who seem to be fully enjoying what they are doing. Notice that they are in formal evening wear: white tie for the men and black evening dress for the women (of whom there are a large number). Here is a performance of the Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovich under conductor David Afkham (who I also saw in Madrid conducting the Spanish National Orchestra, of which he is the musical director):

Here they are with the Dvořák "New World" Symphony, again with Orozco-Estrada conducting:

And now the Symphony No. 7 of Shostakovich conducted by Marin Alsop:

Finally, one of their specialties, Beethoven, Symphony No. 7, again with Orozco-Estrada and notice how they have trimmed down the orchestra to classical proportions:

Honestly, who needs Netflix?

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