Saturday, March 13, 2010

The New York Philharmonic with Muti and Repin

I was going to write a review of Wednesday evening's concert by the New York Philharmonic. Then I read the New York Times' review in Thursday's paper. I can't disagree with or add much to anything Allan Kozinn had to say about the performance. My friend Karyn came with me and she's played Beethoven's violin concerto before. She said that the piece is unforgiving in terms of length and technical skill. It's like a Mozart concerto in that it requires precise degrees of intonation and delicacy, but it's so long and monumental that it demands a tremendous amount of stamina from the soloist. Vadim Repin showed that he has the talent to play the work but his intonation wasn't always accurate and the entire concerto sounded under-rehearsed. Though like a good Guitar Hero player who uses “star power” at just the right time to boost his score, Repin won me over with his renditions of Fritz Kreisler's cadenzas in the outer movements.

I've seen Riccardo Muti with the Philharmonic before but it wasn't until Wednesday night that he struck me as looking like a prototypical conductor. He's tall, thin, and has a thick head of gray hair. His gestures are precise and not too syrupy. While leading the orchestra through Franck's Symphony in D minor, he used his baton like a violin bow, shaking it at the strings as they played tremelo notes, or stabbed it at the brass to open the finale. At the end of the concert the audience gave Muti a long ovation, reminding me that he had the opportunity to be the music director here. Even though he declined the job, New York audiences clearly love him and look forward to his guest appearances.

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