Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Mitsuko Uchida's Mozart

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466
Mozart: Divertimento for Strings in D major, K136 (led by William Preucil, concertmaster)
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K595
Mitsuko Uchida, piano and conductor.

I feel the need to begin this post with something that should be self-evident: The following is and expression of opinion. Namely, my opinion, and as such there will be diverging viewpoints. It should also be remembered that Mozart is not one of my favorite composers.

That said, taken as a whole I didn't care for this evening's Cleveland Orchesra concert in the slightest; for a few moments during the first piano concerto I contemplated cutting the evening short. While I am glad I didn't, I don't really feel that I would have missed anything.

Technically, neither the Orchestra nor Ms. Uchida left anything to be desired, both playing at the level I expect from The Cleveland Orchestra (and while still slightly somber, the musician's body language was nowhere near as dark as at last weekend). The pieces moved with reasonable dispatch, neither too fast nor too slow, too loud or too quiet. This makes it that that much harder for me to pinpoint why, exactly, I feel so overwhelmingly negative about the evening; I guess it comes down to I just really, really, REALLY didn't care for the music of either of the piano concertos.

On the bright side, the Divertimento for Strings, was both reasonably enjoyable to hear, and quite enjoyable to watch: Being a piece for strings exclusively, the violinists and violists were standing, allowing a bit more visual expression to come from the musicians. William Pruecil lead the assortment of some 25 or so string players and I thought it was an impressive show of the Orchestra members' talent such a large ensemble sounded so cohesive without a dedicated conductor.

Likewise, Mitsuko Uchida, playing dual roles as conductor and solo pianist was impressive, especially considering that she played and conducted both concertos without benefit of a score or baton. Again, during the passages where Ms. Uchida was otherwise occupied by playing the orchestra's ability to play cohesively without constant meddling was impressive (even when Ms. Uchida was providing explicit direction to the orchestra, it usually seemed very slight and rather short in duration).

While I didn't care for either of the piano concertos, No. 27 was strongly preferably to No. 20. The third movement of No. 27 was, perhaps, my favorite with a warm, almost galloping melody that I have to admit to partially humming (and hearing one patron whistling) while making my way to my car. The program notes say that this movement shares a theme with Longing for Spring, a song that Mozart wrote shortly after this concerto and including the lyrics "Come, dear May, and make the trees green again" -- which seems particularly apt timing given this weekend's weather.


1 comment:

  1. Enjoying your blog posts. I happened to be at the same concert and had a different reaction: