Alondra de la Parra and the RSB at the Konzerthaus

Setting a Fast Pace

The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester performed de Falla, Ravel and Stravinsky under the baton of the Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra at the Konzerthaus.


Adorno once wrote nastily of the “refractoriness” of orchestra musicians and the “delight they take in sabotage”. Both these may have contributed to the fact that female conductors have had such a hard time in the classical music world for so long: at any time, the orchestra collective can use its very own means to prove that things just don’t work out when certain people take to the podium. Fortunately, these times are now obviously past.

At the age of only 30, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla assumed the position of Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra this season, and her senior by only a few years, the Mexican Alondra de la Parra, has already been making headlines for years. Invitations to return to such outstanding orchestras as the Orchestre de Paris, the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester in Berlin demonstrate how much the symphonic elite enjoys working with the sympathetic and attitude-free musician.

Irresistible Rhythmical Drive

Her third concert with the RSB at the Konzerthaus featured works created in connection with Sergei Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets russes. Manuel de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) was played with irresistible rhythmical drive and enchantingly imaginative sound colors. Alondra de la Parra’s interpretation of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps shows that she has no interest in the happy-go-lucky approach to music-making that is often expected of Central or South American artists: both conductor and orchestra did full justice to the piece’s cutting dissonances and archaic elements of shock.

As in the de Falla, Sung Kwon You, the orchestra’s principal bassoonist, stood out in Sacre with vivid characterizations. Alondra de la Parra has mastered the art of increasing the tempo with a flick of her wrist and then reining it in again. It is therefore easy to imagine her interpreting the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss. Not only the audience at the nearly sold-out Konzerthaus was wildly enthusiastic; during the final accolades, the orchestra musicians demonstratively remained seated, applauding the conductor in their own way.

Translation: Alexa Nieschlag