Friday, April 19, 2013

An Odd Beethoven Moment

We indulged in what I''d count s one of the oddest Beethoven experiences of my life down at the Mondavi Center at Davis last night.  The subject was the violin concerto in D major, Op. 61.  The conductor was Herbert Blomstedt (with the San Francisco Symphony).  The soloist was Augustin Hadelich except that's the thing: the two (symphony and soloist) scarcely seemed to be in the same room together; you had to wonder if they had ever met.   Hadelich was technically dazzling although he played like a kid, younger than you might expect for his 28 years.  And maybe that's the thing; at 85, Blomstedt is more than three times the young fella's age, easily old enough to be his grandfather.  You had to wonder what it might be like if they teamed young Gustavo Dudamel (now 32, after what seems already to have been a long career) with a soloist of, say, 96.  It was fun to bask in the sound of the Stradivarius, though, although you did feel a twinge of pity for the poor Strad as the young man assaulted it with pizzicati in the Paganini encore.

For the second half, we had the orchestra minus soloist doing Nielsen's fifth.  It was all comfortably Nordic in a Strindbergian/Munchian/Kierkegaardian/Mankellian sort of way. You got the feeling that Blomstedt the Swede felt a lot more at home with his Danish neighbor.  It was entertaining to reflect that the murky Dane's day job was to conduct the band at the Tivoli Gardens.

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