In Uncategorized on 10/04/2019 at 09:51

Seriously Off-Topic

At very rare intervals I stray from the august precincts of 400 Second Street, NW. My readers, few in number but strong in stomach, want Tax Court and nothing but. Notwithstanding the risk that anything else might cause even one of them to bail on me, today I once again play music critic.

In my own defense, it has been more than two (count ‘em, two) years since I inflicted this sort of thing on the internet.

Last night the Opening Night Gala Lead Sponsor of Carnegie Hall, a Big Four with which I am acquainted, presented the Cleveland Orchestra. I wish they had given us a heftier program, but the musicianship was first-class.

Anne-Sophie Mutter gave us as beautiful a Beethoven Violin Romance as I ever heard. It’s the usual thing to say that LvB was warming up for the Violin Concerto, but there’s no contemporary evidence he was doing anything more than trying to scare up a few groschen from the music-lovers of Vienna. He certainly did not want to write anything beyond the compass of a good nonprofessional and a wealthy patron’s house band. For a world-class violinist, this is a chance for expression. For a world-class orchestra, it’s a walk in the park. But a beautiful park.

Same for the Triple Concerto. Really a shame that Yefim Bronfman had so little to do, but what he did do, he did superlatively well. There must have been a cello-playing patron to inspire Beethoven to write this, because Lynn Harrell had the most to do, and the best material. Again Anne-Sophie Mutter’s expression and delicate feeling was much appreciated, for all that her technique was unnecessary. The elegiac second movement brought a smile even to my ravaged visage, and the third movement is a joy. It’s interesting that the printed score was dedicated to Prince Lobkovitz. When we visited his Prague premises, we saw the original Beethoven scores in the family’s collection, and reflected that the family had the unhappy circumstances to be plundered twice: once by the Nazis and again by the Communists.

Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland are Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland. They are up to their usual standard, which says it all.

But what possessed FW-M to discard the Rosenkavalier suite that has survived 75 years in favor of the abomination that Mandell foisted 25 years ago upon a world that did him no apparent harm? And to give it its Carnegie Hall debut? It should have been given its quietus, with or without a bodkin.

A more revolting parody of Richard Strauss’ happiest creation it would be hard to imagine. This thing substitutes noise for nuance. Baron Ochs’ elephantine but charming waltz is passed over for endless reiterations of the farewell, seemingly on the principle that if one is delighted by two minutes of melody, five must be better. It was like the drunken guest that ruins the party.

There was an encore, but I had left by that time.

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