Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cleveland Orchestra: Masur Conducts Beethoven and Brahms

Mendelssohn: Overture: The Hebrides (or Fingal's Cave), Op. 26
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19 (David Fray, piano)
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 n E minor, Op. 98
Kurt Masur, conductor

Between The Cleveland Orchestra's touring schedule, and my work schedule my classical music consumption has been way down over the past few years. As good as CIM students are, there's no real substitute for The Cleveland Orchestra. Therefore, boarding my flight home from Kansas City early this afternoon, I was really looking forward to this concert.

From the beginning of the concert the music seemed distant -- I don't know if it didn't want to forge an emotional connection with me or vice-versa, but it started out distant and seemed to get even more so.

Of the three pieces on the program Mendelssohn's Overture to The Hebrides was the one I most enjoyed, with a delightful texture...but the distance kept me from really engaging with the work, and particularly the low strings.

I had hoped that would improve with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 but no. The first few strokes Mr. Masur took at the piano were accompanied by a most unmusical thumping (which sounded like the hammer striking something other than the string), but even after that subsided the piano portion of the piece still sounded weird to my ear...and it nearly put me to sleep. Not nearly lulled me, but rather put me.

During intermission it occurred to me that the hall was either exceptionally and uncomfortably warm -- or I'm getting sick/at the end of my stress rope -- and by the end of the first movement of Brahms' Symphony No. 4 I had beads of sweat on my forehead. Like movements preceding it, the first movement seemed distant and too delicately handled. The second and third movements cut down on that distance and were quite enjoyable because for the first time on the evening's program I got a sense of depth. The fourth movement escaped me -- by that point I was so uncomfortable and so sweat-soaked I just wanted the program to end...and was contemplating if I could escape the box without disturbing the couple behind me.

Hopefully next time will be better.


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