why is this week different from all other weeks?
BERIO Ritirata Notturna di Madrid
SALONEN Piano Concerto
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
10-12:30 1:3-4 rehearsals
All in all, an enjoyable week in the house of notes. Of course the answer to the question posed above, and no small part of the allure of the week has to be because we get Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings off.
Salonen is not a very excitable conductor. If you ask me, that’s a big asset when it comes to the Beethoven 7th, which all to easily crosses the line into bacchanalia in the wrong hands. I’m a big fan of period instrument performances anyhow. That aside, I sometimes get the feeling as a modern orchestra, bulked up on Bruckner, Strauss, and Mahler, it is all too easy to go overboard on these late classical/early romantic symphonies, like a prizefighter pummeling his hapless undersized opponent trapped on the ropes. I’m referring mostly to the string playing, BTW. When you find wood chips and sawdust on the floor after the performance, you’ve probably been playing too vigorously. Fortunately, the demeanor of the guy on the podium can sometimes have a calming influence, as was the case this week.
Salonen’s piano concerto was one of the more interesting and well-written new works we’ve played. I hope his retirement from the LA Philharmonic leads to more composing, and more guest appearances here.
The Ritirata Notturna di Madrid proved an inoffensive bit of fluff – as Salonen said, his mother’s favorite Berio piece – remarkable mainly for the outstanding percussion playing stage-left.