Stravinsky, Mozart, Beethoven
Pinchas Zukerman and the Camerata Salzburg brought chamber music to the stage of the Khachaturian Hall. They provided beautiful and delicate playing, but had a hard time filling the large hall with sound, particularly the strings, who foud themselves regularly overwhelmed by the winds, who were certainly not themselves overplaying.
This issue became apparent right from the first piece: Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. Without thicker strings, the dischords Stravinsky intentionally put in the winds stood out more, making this neo-classical work odder than the composer intended. For Mozart’s Haffner Serenade, with Zukerman conducting with his violin, the situation improved somewhat. Still, Zukerman got a lush sound from his instrument, and it easily left the stage and reached our ears, which contrasted with the subdued Camerata strings.
The balance finally worked after the intermission, for Beethoven’s Romance #1 for Violin and Orchestra. Essentially a work for solo violin augmented by chamber orchestra, Zukerman took over the playing more assertively, and the orchestra did not need to stand out but rather just had to back him up. And with their gorgeous playing, they did just that.
Mozart’s Symphony #39 closed the program. Here, the strings put a little more oompf into their playing, but again the wind section dominated. An encore Mozart menuetto, scored with limited wind lines, demonstrated that the strings, playing almost alone, could make a bigger impact, even in this cavernous hall. I just left wondering if maybe they need to perform in a more intimate venue.