Monday, February 26, 2024

Not with a bang « parterre field – “Probably the most important weblog in opera!” – New York Occasions


If that sounds flippant or insensitive, I don’t imply it to be. Barenboim is undoubtedly a musical large who deserves his honored place as a cultural icon, and his thirty-year tenure because the Staatskapelle’s music director raised each the profile and high quality of the orchestra. However lately, severe well being issues have meant that Barenboim is now as notable for his cancellations as for his appearances.

Nonetheless, there gave the impression to be a renewed sense of hope as Barenboim stored a number of European engagements over the summer season, and if his critiques weren’t all the time as rapturous as they’d been in years previous, they weren’t embarrassing, both. In the meantime, what initially appeared like a one-off efficiency in New York bloomed right into a mini-tour, with performances in Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia (the place I stay).

I made a decision to reap the benefits of the chance to listen to the Staatskapelle carry out Brahms’s Symphonies 1 and a pair of at Carnegie Corridor on November 30, then return for Symphonies 3 and 4 at Verizon Corridor in Philly on December 3. After all, it was frequent data by that time that Barenboim wouldn’t be making the journey to North America, and that Yannick Nézet-Séguin could be taking the rostrum for the East Coast engagements.

Provided that Barenboim’s illnesses embody a severe vascular situation, it’s attainable that his docs suggested him towards a journey schedule that might have him taking a number of airplane rides in brief succession. I ponder if he might need stayed on had the preliminary plan to only carry out in New York remained the case. However there’s actually no use speculating, and I’ve accepted that at this level that I doubtless heard my final stay Barenboim efficiency way back.

Nonetheless, the top consequence supplied a pair revealing contrasts. I can’t assist however admire the indefatigable Nézet-Séguin and his save-the-day spirit. He jumped into this engagement amid a run of Florencia en el Amazonas on the Met and forthcoming performances this week with the Philadelphia Orchestra. However on Thursday at Carnegie, I noticed little proof of what makes him a singular and memorable conductor.

As a substitute, he gave the impression to be shepherding another person’s imaginative and prescient onto the stage. I typically bear in mind a Nézet-Séguin efficiency for its riot of particulars—not all the time advisable, however normally distinctive and private—and I nearly all the time hear one thing new when he approaches a symphony. Right here, as an alternative, he took a big-picture method to Symphonies 1 and a pair of, and the night handed by pleasantly however with out a lot character. The Second sounded a tad fussy at occasions, whereas the First felt just like the musical equal of a Nice Books seminar.

Immediately, I discovered myself nearly dreading Sunday’s continuation, regardless that the commute was much more congenial.

As a substitute, I discovered the Staatskapelle and Nézet-Séguin reinvigorated in Philadelphia. Begin with the sound: it was hotter, livelier, and extra enveloping in Verizon Corridor, with an acoustic that higher suited the outfit’s elegant, well-blended fashion.

Maybe Nézet-Séguin discovered renewed inspiration within the Third and Fourth Symphonies, or he was basking within the adoring glow of a pleasant hometown viewers, however his interpretations appeared remodeled right here too. Each items had been stuffed with individuality, loads of quirky decisions (he ignored nearly all rests), and colourful solos woven into the material of the general structure. I’ll bear in mind Claudia Stein’s ethereal flute passages within the remaining motion of the Fourth with explicit fondness.

Performances of Brahms can typically come throughout as glowering, however underneath Nézet-Séguin’s steerage right here, the Third was marked by thriller and the Fourth by impish humor. Brahms might need been the last word Romantic, however there have been many forward-looking concepts on show right here. It was the sort of live performance that makes one re-evaluate their total perspective.

The Staatskapelle begins its subsequent chapter in 2024, when Christian Thielemann formally succeeds Barenboim as music director. And regardless of the future holds for Barenboim as a public determine, his legacy is safe. What doubtless started as a deliberate sendoff ended up as a testomony to the superb work one man achieved throughout his tenure and the valiant effort of one other to appreciate it.

Images: Fadi Kheir



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