Four and a half centuries later and still producing music that can be called a “virtuoso of refinement,” the Dresden Staatskapelle returns to the Hill Auditorium this Friday night.

Paul Wong
The intense Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts the Dresden Staatskapelle, tonight at the Hill.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

Founded in 1548, the Dresden Staatskapelle originally charmed listeners at weddings, church services, banquets, and court festivals. Beethoven was on target when he noted, “It is generally said that the orchestra in Dresden is the best in Europe.” Since then the orchestra has grown to hold the reputation of being one of the world”s finest.

The Dresden Staatskapelle is not only renowned for its interpretations and variations of standard and contemporary repertoire, but also the orchestra”s close connection with Richard Strauss has established its title as a “Strauss” orchestra. With world premiere performances of outstanding operas by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, the orchestra”s development has mainly come from its accomplished conductors.

Presently, the orchestra is under the direction of Venetian-born conductor-composer Giuseppe Sinopoli. Although he graduated from medical school with a degree in Freudian psychoanalysis, Sinopoli lacks no talent in the area of music, as he was the first music director in four decades to be democratically elected by the orchestra”s musicians.

Sinopoli seems to focus on the era 1842 to 1942, with hopes of, “just trying to come back to the old sound, what we know through records and through descriptions. Not the aggressive sound typical of modern orchestras, never forcing.” He strives for “a very elegant homogeneity, we work very strong in this direction.”

With the orchestra”s intimate association with Strauss, Sinopoli stresses his view on such music as “very transparent and very fine. Not spectacular. Not heavy,” as opposed to typical conductors” interpretations of Strauss as very ponderous, dramatic, loud sounds.

In praise of Sinopoli”s nurture of this elite orchestra, he was awarded Italy”s highest award, the “Gran Coce as Merito,” for his contribution to the arts and music.

Whether they are playing their hearts out to Strauss”s romantic “Don Juan,” “Death and Transfiguration,” “Ein Heldenleben” or militant heavy-breathing development of Tchaikovsky, the Dresden Staatskapelle is a welcome tonic to this homogenized age of orchestras. Conducting this full orchestra of 100 musicians, and driving them to play their hearts out, Sinopoli builds the suspense of the Dresden Staatskapelle to an ultimate harmonic climax.

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