Klangforum Wien / Pablo Heras-Casado / Elīna Garanča - Kollegienkirche, 31 July 2012 (Salzburg Festival)
People tend to think about the Salzburg Festival in opera terms, but there are loads of concerts too, generally of a more reliable quality than the operas, and certainly a great deal cheaper. Prime seats for this one were 40 euros, which is probably less than you'd pay in London.
Pablo Heras-Casado and the versatile musicians of Klangforum Wien were brought together in various combinations, starting with a brass quintet for Lutoslawski's Mini-Overture, ending with Castiglioni's Risognanze for 16 instruments, and taking in such varied treats as Boulez's Dérive 1 for six instruments and Lutoslawski's Three Fragments for Flute and Harp. Most of the instrumental combinations are so idiosyncratic you rarely get to hear them in the context of a normal concert, where you wouldn't bring out a harp or a horn or a harmonium for just five minutes of glory.
Berio's Folk Songs were the centrepiece, and possibly all that some of the audience had come to hear - there was a sizeable exodus in the interval which followed. Elīna Garanča entered into the spirit with an eyepopping dirndl and Heidi plait. Her affectless delivery, which can seem 'cold' in opera, was perfectly idiomatic here. These songs are more about general style than individual word-painting, and Garanča found a different flavour for each. She barely referred to the score in front of her, and must have listened carefully to Cathy Berberian's recordings - her English in Black is the color and I wonder as I wander was tinged with an immaculate American accent.
ORF's Ö1 channel will broadcast a recording of this concert on Monday 6 August at 11pm.