Mozart, Bruckner, Sibelius
I decided to test the full range of acoustics in Salzburg’s Großes Festspielhaus – my first time hearing a concert in this hall – with a chamber work by Mozart and a Bruckner symphony. I approve. I got a seat way up top in the last row, and heard every nuance despite the cavernous amphitheater structure. The waves of sound rolled up to the top and back down again, washing the ears.
Unusually for me, I did not wear any Austrian Tracht to the concert. Much to my surprise, I found this put me into a minority. I am used to being one of the few to preserve this tradition, but clearly not tonight. Salzburgers may speak with an accent that sounds to my ears like it comes from the wrong side of the border, but I will give them credit for dressing appropriately.
The young Norwegian star Vilde Frang played the solos for Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5, producing a spicy tone like none other I have heard. Like well-seasoned food, it contained a robust complex flavor without too much salt – my mind, in fact, strayed to a fusion-Indian restaurant I like in London, which balances Indian spices and Western palates. Tasty. As an encore, she treated us to a rendition of a Norwegian folk song, more North Sea salmon than pickled herring.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste led the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cologne. A shell of an orchestra accompanied Frang in the Mozart concert, setting the table for her. The full orchestra turned out after the intermission for Bruckner’s Symphony #3 – but only the full orchestra, unaugmented, making it appear rather small for a Bruckner symphony. The acoustics in the hall stretched the sound to full. But the whole performance came off as abrupt and unfeeling, lacking fluency. The lines did not flow. So after such a fine appetizer, they served us a large pile of perfectly good but unexciting sauerkraut with sausage.
The final encore, Valse Triste by Sibelius, showed that these forces did indeed know how to make the music flow. Dark chocolate mousse for dessert.
I should probably have cooked dinner before I wrote this review.