Diana Damrau Recital
Ensemble orchestral: Le Cercle de l'Harmonie
Direction musicale: Jérémie Rohrer
Opéra de Lyon
January 25, 2008
It took me an awfully long time to figure out Jérémie Rohrer.
On the first aria (Mozart's Thamos, König in Agypten KV345, #2), I was quite impressed by the way he handled his musicians (impression later proven to be wrong) and heard some interesting nuances. Then, 5 pieces later, on Mozart's 26th symphony, I simply dozed off, therefore effectively ending my 5-minute love affair with Rohrer.
It took me a while to recover but I was looking forward to the two Gluck's pieces from Orphée et Eurydice. When the first one was played though ("Ballet des ombres heureuses"), I couldn't believe my ears: this is one of the worst performances of this piece I have ever heard. But it led me to figure this Jérémie Rohrer out. I am all for fresh, young and dynamic new conductors... as long as they have something new to bring to the table.
Playing with 18th century instruments is definitely not a good way to start something new. I'm sorry, but the flute has more to do with the "thing" we each experimented with in school than with an actual instrument capable of emitting beautiful sounds. The violins induce a weird resonance and a rather irritating sound, the oboe is... not the oboe I love so much and even the bassoons are funny sounding. The biggest problem with Rohrer though, is that he can sound dynamic and sharp. This illusion is well preserved when the scores are deliberately staccato, as often with Mozart and Salieri.
But when the music is legato (in the Gluck's piece for instance), Rohrer looses all perspective and ends up delivering a slow and boring interpretation. Nuances are nowhere to be found, but heavy and solemn are everywhere.
So in the end, it all seems like a fraud, because what's happening really is that he only delivers nuances because the few milliseconds between each staccato allow him to switch to another idea. But when there's no time for switching, boredom is just around the corner. Everybody seems to be talking about this guy (at least they do all the time) well, I was rather disappointed there.
From ForumOpera: "Mais si Rhorer sait être – extrêmement – rapide, il peut aussi être impitoyablement lent. Le ballet d’Orphée étiré comme un vieux chewing-gum sans goût ne s’en remet pas. L’auditeur non plus, d’ailleurs. (...) Si encore l’orchestre était bon ! Mais non ! (...) ce n’est qu’attaques floues, imprécises ; cuivres naturels qui détonnent ; équilibres très instables où la partie droite écrase impitoyablement la gauche. Ce sont des cordes rêches, métalliques, sans aura ni portée."