Mendelssohn, Elgar, Bruckner
Tonight was amateur night at the Musikverein. However, in this case we are talking about Vienna, and the amateur group is the Orchestral Society of the Vienna Association of Friends of Music – in other words, the concert hall’s own house orchestra founded in 1859. Robert Zelzer took the podium, and Othmar Müller (OK, he’s a professional) brought his cello (made in 1573).
On the program were Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and Bruckner’s Symphony #4. The orchestra was enthusiastic but not accurate. This generally carried the Mendelssohn and most of the Bruckner, but not so well the somber Elgar and the exposed Adagio movement of Bruckner’s symphony. In the case of the Elgar, however, Müller managed to hold the entire work together through his thoughtful playing. Not much could be done with the Bruckner adagio except to wait for the scherzo.
Someone (although I do not remember who) once described Bruckner as not so much a composer of music but rather as a man who captured music that already existed in the aether, so that human listeners could hear the sound of heaven. Certainly, enough Brucknerian aetherial sounds have established permanent residence in the rafters of the Musikverein Hall, so even an amateur orchestra could pull them down. These are amateurs who give only three concerts a year and their performance, even if rough, was to be appreciated.