A disappointing concert this as in theory I very much like all artists involved.
I wrote about it for Bachtrack. I asked other people sitting around me to check that it wasn't just me feeling the fundamental disconnect between orchestra and conductor.
Strauss's Tod und Verklärung is the work of a young man seeking to impress with his profundity and modernity after his early success with the wildly exuberant Don Juan. It is often said that the "death" part is more convincing than the "transfiguration" part, and this is largely true - while the former comes off beautifully, the latter is far too prosaic musically for the exalted subject matter. It's not really a question of age (Strauss was just 25 when he composed it), but a matter of compositional strengths, proclivities and weaknesses revealing themselves early - Strauss' musical genius is best expressed by sentimentality, extremity, vulgarity, stylisation: he is simply not capable of Wagnerian profundity, weight and depth. Robin Ticciati went a long way towards papering over these cracks, and slowly the huge symphonic arc of the tone poem was revealed with a glistening sweep. But there were balance issues - the brass and percussion generally far too loud, the little woodwind fragments in the beginning not cutting through the gloriously lush string textures. Something too wasn't connecting musically - there was a curious lack of passion or commitment even although all concerned were making all the right motions.
Well, can't win em all...