<< -- 2 -- Lawrence Budmen DYNAMIC PLAYING
In (K)ein Sommernachtstraum (composed in 1985) Schnittke creates a graceful Mozartean theme and then sets up a musical burlesque. This fiercely witty music recalls Shostakovich in his most satirical, acerbic vein. Dissonant brasses invert the theme. Suddenly late 18th century elegance (always accompanied by a tinkling harpsichord) becomes atonality. The score ends with a reprise of the theme but something has changed. In the last years of Communist rule, this type of parody became a dignified manner of artistic protest.
Schnittke's ingenious score was given a sizzling performance by Jarvi and the orchestra. I heard Jarvi lead a student ensemble in Stravinsky's bracing orchestrations of Hugo Wolf lieder this past summer at Tanglewood. His ability to draw magical results from an ad hoc orchestra was impressive. On this occasion he again showed exceptional mastery. Jarvi astutely pointed the seemingly elegant wind interjections and drew bristling salvos from the brass and percussion. In a work that depends on its conductor to pinpoint musical irony, Jarvi again demonstrated exceptional talent! Flutist Ebonee Thomas played her high altitude solos with spectacular breath control, sweetly spun tone, and dizzying command of the most angular phrases.
Roberto Abbado's sparkling direction of Beethoven's Symphony No 4 in B-flat Op 60 brought Toscanini to mind. Here was Italianate warmth combined with whiz bang intensity and awesome orchestral control. The mystery of the introductory Adagio was potently evoked while the sheer rhythmic dive of the Allegro vivace was riveting. The dialogue between strings and winds was beautifully detailed. Abbado sustained the cantabile line of the second movement Adagio with the grace of a bel canto operatic aria. The music seemed born aloft; Beethoven's inspiration burned anew. The Allegro ma non troppo finale raced with opera buffa spirit. Abbado had the New World musicians playing with edge of the seat intensity. The horns delivered their daunting third movement solos with clarion precision. The Beethoven Fourth Symphony has been called the gentle interlude between two stormy giants (the Eroica and Fifth Symphonies). Abbado's performance was a vivid reminder of the unflagging, fierce energy of Beethoven's music. This Beethoven Fourth never let up steam -- a stunning interpretation!
Copyright © 20 December 2005
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA