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There was a sense that, after an adventurous and successful first night,
those programming the festival had sugared the pill with an easy listening
extravaganza on the final night which all but obliterated the Second Viennese
School from the scene.
Ironically, the orchestra was at its worst in the most familiar works
-- the Haydn lacked cohesion, whilst sudden shifts of tempo in the Beethoven
seemed to take even the players by surprise. And the final word on the Second
Viennese School Weekend? Brahms' Variations on a theme of Joseph
Haydn. An unusual choice to say the least -- and there was little to
be said for the performance, which once again suffered from vast fluctuations
in tempo and any sense of narrative. It was a sad way to end a weekend that
had started so promisingly and included many excellent performances. Nor
was this attempt at populism rewarded with particularly good audiences in
the National Concert Hall. Hopefully this, if nothing else, will serve as
a warning the next time around.
All this said, the weekend of celebration and exploration was more than
simply a 'worthy' event, giving air to some rarely performed works
before putting them back in the cupboard. The opportunity to hear these
composers' music in concert demonstrated that it is more than just
the application of technique, and perhaps offered us a glimpse of why Schoenberg
could never understand those people who called his music modern.
Copyright © 22 February 2002
Samuel A Brown, Dublin, Ireland
THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF IRELAND
THE VANBRUGH STRING QUARTET
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